Recipe: Strip Steaks Au Poivre

Strip steaks au poivre
Molly Baz’s strip steaks au poivre Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House 
Strip Steaks au Poivre
Serves 4
1 large shallot
4 garlic cloves
3 thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
2 (1½-inch-thick) New York strip steaks (about 1½ pounds total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons vegetable oil1⁄3 cup cognac, dry sherry, or brandy
Flaky sea salt
①Prep your mise:
✦Pat 2 New York strip steaks dry with paper towels. Season all over with 2½ teaspoons kosher salt and a generous amount of ground black pepper. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.*
✦Finely chop 1 large shallot.
✦Thinly slice 2 garlic cloves. Firmly smash 2 additional garlic cloves to really break them open so that they are able to release a lot of flavor when theyhit the skillet.
✦Place 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns in a sealable plastic bag, seal the bag, place it on your countertop, and crush with the bottom of a small saucepan to coarsely crack them. If you have a mortar and pestle, use that! They should be coarser than ground black pepper.
②Cook the steaks:
✦Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 4 minutes.
✦Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the steaks and cook, undisturbed, until a deep golden brown crust forms underneath, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the second side until equally golden brown, 3 minutes longer. (If the steaks have a fat cap, upend them on their sides, stabilizing them with tongs, and sear the edges, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per edge.)
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 1 tablespoon butter, 3 thyme sprigs, and the 2 smashed garlic cloves to the pan. Use a spoon to continuously baste the steak, about 2 minutes. If you’ve never basted a steak and want to learn how, right this way! Insert your instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the steak. Once it registers 120°F, transfer it to a cutting board to rest.
④Make the pan sauce:
✦Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet along with the sliced garlic, shallot, and crushed peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot and garlic are softened but not browned, 4 to 5 minutes.**
✦Turn off the heat (cognac is flammable!) and add 1⁄3 cup cognac. Return the skillet to medium heat and cook until the cognac has mostly evaporated andyour spoon leaves streaks in the skillet when you stir, 1 to 2 minutes.
✦Add ½ cup heavy cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until it coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Season with kosher salt.
✦Slice the steak against the grain. Not sure what the grain is or how to find it? Right this way. Transfer to a serving platter.
✦Pour any resting juices back into the skillet and stir them into the sauce. Spoon the sauce generously over the steak, season with flaky sea salt, and serve immediately.***
*This will give the salt a chance to penetrate the meat, so it won’t fall off the steaks when you sear them.
**Cooking the peppercorns helps bloom their flavor and infuses the butter with peppery heat in a way that simply stirring them in at the end does not.*
**The sauce will thicken and congeal as it cools down, and it won’t feel as luxurious on your palate.

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