Steak au poivre

Steak au poivre

Margaret Fulton Favourites
Tanya Zouev and Armelle Habib

At a very young age I learnt that the most important thing when cooking was to have good ingredients, and that means shopping carefully. As a girl, if I went to the butcher and bought a piece of steak that was thick one end and thin the other I would be sent back to the shop with it. My mother would say, ‘Watch what you’re buying, Margaret. It’s good money that’s going into it. How can I cook this? It’s got to be the same thickness right through.’

Peppercorns are sold in different grades, but only freshly cracked black peppercorns will release the peppery oil that flavours the steak so perfectly in this classic dish. Crack the pepper with a mortar and pestle, or with a mallet between two sheets of plastic.


Quantity Ingredient
4 steaks, rump, porterhouse or fillet
2-3 tablespoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns
2 tablespoons brandy, (optional)
a dash tabasco sauce, (optional)
a dash worcestershire sauce
a little lemon juice
60g butter
sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or chives
2 tablespoons cream, (optional)


  1. Sprinkle both sides of each steak with pepper and press well into the meat with the heel of your hand. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled, large heavy-based frying pan over a high heat, add the steaks and cook on one side until brown, for about 3 minutes. Turn steaks and cook for another 3–4 minutes, until brown on the other side and cooked to taste. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place, loosely covered with foil.
  3. Return the pan to a medium heat and add the brandy, if using, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds. Add sauces and lemon juice to taste, then whisk in the butter until completely melted. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a little salt, and sprinkle with parsley or chives. For a creamy sauce, swirl cream into the pan sauce. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.
  4. Steak au poivre vert

    Prepare as for steak au poivre but replace the black peppercorns with poivre vert, the soft green peppercorns that are sold pickled in brine.
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