This is a French bistro classic which is also known as steak au poivre. Cook your steak the way you like it. Serve with homemade matchstick fries and crunch green beans. This delicious dish only takes 25 mins to make and is well worth the wait. Good quality Cognac gives the steak a delicious, succulent flavour.
- For the steaks:
- 2 sirloin steaks, trimmed of the outer layer of fat
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp white peppercorns
- 75g unsalted butter
- 2 good glugs of quality Cognac
- A few twists of salt
- For the fries:
- 5-6 non-floury potatoes, such as Charlotte
- 1 litre sunflower or vegetable oil
- For the beans:
- 2 handfuls fine green beans, topped and tailed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the fries, peel the potatoes and slice into matchstick-sized piece. Add the oil to a large frying pan, wok or deep fat fryer then cook on a medium heat for around 15 mins until the fries become crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside in a warm place.
While they’re cooking, crush the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar and put through a sieve to get rid of excess fine powder. Press the crushed peppercorns into one side of each steak.
Heat 50g of the butter in a large frying pan until foaming, then add the steaks, peppercorn-side down Cook for 2-3 mins each side, depending on how you like your steaks done 30 seconds before the end of cooking.
Add the cognac and set it alight with a cigarette lighter or match it to burn off the alcohol (this step is optional. If you do it, take great care).
Transfer the steaks to a hot plate and season with salt, then whisk in the rest of the butter to make a pepper-brandy sauce.
You can prepare the beans in advance by cooking in salted water for 8-10 mins until they are very tender, but still crunchy. Plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. Preparing them this way ensures you don’t get that squeaky texture that, personally, puts my teeth on edge. Then finish the beans by stir-frying in a little butter with salt and pepper.
Serve the steaks with the fries and beans and the pepper-brandy sauce drizzled over the top.
This also works brilliantly with pork chops or chicken breast. Just flatten them out a little with a meat mallet or rolling pin to tenderise.