by John Tesar
A pan sauce can’t be made completely ahead of time; it requires the cooking of the meat itself to provide the integral flavoring. It’s a classic fundamental technique, though, that should be in every home cook’s arsenal. At Knife, we make the pan sauce from France (poivre is French for “pepper”)—but you can use the technique with shallots, garlic, mustard, cognac, or whatever you want.
You can use any cut of beef you want—but I tailored this recipe for a Flat Iron, as it works perfectly when I’m cooking in a pan at home. At Knife, we use a Strip Steak for steak au poivre and serve it with frites, as the French do at pretty much every bistro. The cracked black pepper is strong, but cooking tempers it, allowing its sweetness to come out and harmonize with the meat
Pan basting, or poêlé, comes into play here, as we like to get the salt and pepper that came into the pan on the steak back into the butter. As a rule, I only use butter because
of how the fat distributes the heat and binds with the meat juices. Also, I only make pan sauces in the stainless-steel pan, because it’s nonreactive and clean. I would not suggest making the sauce in the carbon steel pan, because the heat is a little too intense and can burn the ingredients.
While the beef rests, use the same pan to make the sauce, making sure to pour out the fat before serving the sauce. Some people like to finish the sauce with butter, but I’m getting more health conscious these days, so I skip it. I’ve given instructions for cooking a single steak, but the sauce recipe makes enough for 4-6. If you’re not going to use it all at once, the sauce will keep for two days, covered, in the refrigerator, and can be reheated gently over low heat.
Flat Iron steak, 10 oz.
1/2 plus 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp. butter
1 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 heaping Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup bordelaise sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus 1-2 Tbsp. additional, if needed
1 Tbsp. ground peppercorns in brine, drained (optional)
- Season steak evenly on both sides with 1/2 tsp. of the salt and 1/2 tsp. of the pepper.
- In a stainless-steel pan over very high heat, cook the butter until brown. In French cooking, it’s called noisette, which means “hazelnut”. That’s the color you want the butter to be.
- Place the steak in the pan and make sure the entire surface makes contact with the butter. Cook the steak 4-5 minutes, basting the beef once or twice with the juices and fat in the pan. Turn the steak and cook the other side. Using a digital thermometer, test the beef; you want it to read between 125-128°F. Put beef on a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes for a perfectly medium-rare steak.
- Pour out the butter and fat, leaving brown bits behind.
- Add the coarsely ground black pepper and mustard to the pan and whisk to combine, picking up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add brandy and pull the pan off heat (unless you like high drama). Turn flame to very low and whisk in bordelaise sauce until you have a homogenous sauce.
- Whisk in the heavy cream; the sauce should be a light brown. Add the remaining 1/8 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of black pepper, and whisk to combine.
- If using green peppercorns, stir to combine. Turn heat to medium and let the sauce cook. It should bubble a little around the edges of the pan, but shouldn’t boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. If sauce gets too dark, you can whisk another Tbsp. or two of cream.
- Slice the steak and place on a plate. Pour the sauce over and serve.
Thank you Beef Loving Texans for helping with this.