Scantily Clad Steak au Poivre

Story and recipes by Debbi Snook l Wine Commentary by Gary Twining

Photo by Beth Segal

We’ve ditched the classic cream sauce that can muddy the flavor of the best of steaks. Ours is perfectly dressed for flying sparks with only peppercorn jewelry and a splash of cognac. Make sure your steak is at least an inch thick, if not an inch and a half. You’ll get the best results using a cast iron skillet and an instant-read thermometer.

Scantily Clad Steak au Poivre

  • 1 1/2 pound ribeye, strip or filet mignon
  • 1 TBS grapeseed oil
  • 1 TBS kosher salt
  • 1 TBS black peppercorns
  • 1 TBS cognac
  • Few grinds of green peppercorns, to finish

Place black peppercorns in a zippered plastic bag and lightly crush with a rolling pin. Brush steak with oil and season liberally with kosher salt. Coat both sides with peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Let stand 15 minutes.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, 3-4 minutes. Swirl in oil. Add steak and cook 5 minutes, flipping and cooking another 5-7 minutes until a thermometer reads 130 degrees (medium-rare). Stand a bit away from the stove and splash on cognac, which could flare. Transfer to a plate and dust with ground green peppercorns. Let rest 15 minutes.

Serves 2

Gary: The peppercorns in this recipe present intense spice and heat character to the entrée, which is absolutely wonderful for those who appreciate it. Wines like Zinfandel, with its hot-pressed berry fruit, and Grenache/Garnacha (Châteauneuf-du-Pape and other Southern Rhone reds) with its echoing black pepper notes, would be lovely pairings. These wines have increased alcohol levels that can enhance spiciness. Other big reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Barolo/Barbaresco, Chianti Classico Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino or some of the darkly-fruited reds, made from Aglianico in Southern Italy, would also be nice accompaniments. Consider using youthful wines to enable their flavors to stand up to the spice in the dish.

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