And to complete your French bistro meal, you’ll need a little something more than just shoestring fries.
A tender, perfectly cooked filet of beef au poivre is just the thing. Add a simple green salad, and all you’re missing is a fabulous Parisian sidewalk on which to enjoy your dinner.
I’ve heard of steak au poivre many times and seen it on many a French bistro menu, but it’s something I’ve never ordered. I knew that the steak was encrusted in peppercorns, but I never realized that another key component of the dish is the Cognac sauce. Something I’ve really come to love about French cooking is their heavy hand with Cognac – in fact, I just went through my first bottle and had to go and buy a second one (I went larger this time!). Some recipes opt to add heavy cream, but I don’t think you need it; the Cognac and the shallots provide plenty of complex flavor.
Though you don’t have to use filet, it’s the most commonly used cut of beef for the dish. It happens to be my favorite cut, and one I cook at home at least once a month. Usually, I use both the stove top and the oven to make my filet, but here you’re pan-frying the entire time. If you follow Ina’s exact cooking times, you’ll end up with a perfect medium-rare.
Filet of Beef au Poivre
From Ina Garten
- 6 filet mignon, cut 1 1/4 inches thick
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped shallots (3 to 4 shallots)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/2 cup good Cognac
Place the filets on a board and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the filets with salt and then press the black pepper evenly on both sides. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the butter almost smokes. Place the steaks in the pan and lower the heat to medium. Saute the steaks for 4 minutes on 1 side and then for 3 minutes on the other side, for medium rare. Remove the steaks to a serving platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Meanwhile, pour all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the saute pan. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the beef broth and cook over high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, until reduced by half, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the Cognac and cook for 2 more minutes. Off the heat, swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve the steaks hot with the sauce poured on top.