The Pepper Steak with Brandy Sauce is a classic of Bistro-style French Cuisine. A thick and juicy steak, adorned by a creamy and fragrant peppercorn sauce, with subtle notes of cognac… It must be enjoyed with a side of French fries, of course!
Bastille Day is just around the corner (it’s July 14)! And what better time than the French National Day to cook the iconic Pepper Steak with Brandy Sauce, with a side of French fries? Or as the French would say, the “Steak Frites”.
“Un Steak Frites, s’il vous plait!”.
Yes, if you’re planning a visit to France, you better remember this phrase. Because wherever you’ll go, it would be hard not to find a bistro that serves the Steak Frites. This truly is a classic and timeless dish, worshiped by the entire French nation.
If you’re not planning a visit to France anytime soon (but hopefully you will!), here’s your chance to get a taste of this French bistro staple.
But just before we dive into the recipe, let’s read this little recipe introduction, pulled from “Mastering the Art of French Cuisine”, which to me, perfectly summarizes the keys to this dish…
“Steak au poivre can be very good when it is not buried in pepper and doused with flaming brandy that the flavor of the meat is utterly disguised.”
(Very Julia Child, isn’t it?)
And indeed, the pepper steak with brandy sauce is a delectable dish, that can quickly become overwhelming if not served properly. You know the deal now: respect the proportions and please, do not drown your steak in sauce. Instead, I suggest you serve the sauce on the side (and that way, dipping your fries in the sauce is even easier!)
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. Bon appétit, and Happy Bastille Day!
Pepper Steak with Brandy SaucePrint This
4 tbsp of a mixture of black and white peppercorns.
4 steaks (I used Striploin)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced shallots or green onions
½ cup beef stock
¼ cup cognac
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp softened butter
Place the peppercorns in a big mixing bowl and crush them roughly with a pestle or the bottom of a bottle.
Dry the steaks on paper towels. Rub and press half of the crushed peppercorns (2 tbsp) into both sides of the meat with your fingers and the palms of your hands. Cover with waxed paper. Let stand for at least half an hour; 2 or 3 hours are even better, so the flavor of the pepper will penetrate the meat.
Add salt just before cooking!
Grill your steaks on a frying pan, a barbecue or charcoal grill: Either method works, but my husband and I SWEAR by using lump charcoal for an irreplaceable taste. Place the steak on a piping hot grill, and do not touch the steaks for about 1-2 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill). Gently lift to view the char (don’t burn it) Once this side has a beautiful deep brown look, flip and cook to your desired doneness (Medium Rare for me, please!)
Move to a plate, and cover with foil (see note)
In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan, add the shallots (or green onions) and the rest of the crushed peppercorns and cook slowly for a minute.
Pour in the beef stock and boil down rapidly over high heat while scraping up the coagulated cooking juices. Then add the cognac (or other type of brandy, see note) and boil rapidly for 2 minutes, to evaporate its alcohol.
Pour in the heavy cream, sprinkle in the flour, and boil again, whisking rapidly the sauce for 2 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
Remove from the heat, and swirl in the butter.
Serve the sauce on the side, and accompany with french fries.
1. The original recipe calls for Cognac but I wouldn’t worry about using a great quality brandy, since it will be boiled off to evaporate the alcohol and blended with a generouns amount of cream and butter. // 2. Letting the steaks rest a few minutes after cooking is essential. It allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and gives you a juicy steak, at the perfect temperature.