This is a quintessential French dish and every time I make it it transports me back to the streets of Paris. A dreamy pepper sauce blankets the rich steak in extra fatty goodness, with the bite of the pepper cutting through and adding balance. Green beans are tossed in a fragrant herb butter, and au grain potatoes are crispy and cheesy. It's pretty much the perfect meal.
- 4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup Cognac, plus 1 teaspoon
- 1 cup heavy cream
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Bringing them to room temperature before cooking ensures a lovely crust. Sprinkle all sides with salt.
Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the fillets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface evenly. Set aside.
In a medium skillet over medium heat (I love using my cast iron pan), melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to sizzle, gently place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 5 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.
Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 6 minutes. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and season, to taste, with salt.
Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.
If you don't feel comfortable flaming the Cognac, just simmer it for a minute to cook off the alcohol, then add the cream. Watch carefully, because you don't want to simmer it so much the sauce completely evaporates. It will go quickly, so don't leave the stove!