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SmokED Peppercorn Steak

A standard on the menu of any respectable steakhouse is Peppercorn Steak, or “steak au poivre” as the French call it.

What Is Peppercorn Steak?

There is some debate over the exact origins of this recipe (which French chef, or French king, and what era), but a thick juicy steak served with a peppercorn sauce has been popular in American homes and restaurants for at least 50 years.
The steak is usually crusted with cracked black or green peppercorns and served with a sauce with cognac, and cream or demi-glace.
The following recipe uses SmokED Black Pepper, brandy, beef stock, and cream.

The Secret to This Steak au Poivre Recipe

In many recipes, the peppercorns are pressed into the steak before cooking. In this recipe (adapted from the Joy of Cooking, same ingredients, slightly different method), the steak is seared first, so you can get good flavorful browning without burning a bunch of peppercorns.
After searing, then a peppercorn sauce is made and served over the steak.

How to Crack Peppercorns for Steak au Poivre

I offer a Grinder Top that grinds peppercorns but cracked peppercorns should be courser and larger than ground peppercorns. To crack peppercorns, use this easy technique:

  • Place the desired amount of peppercorns in a zipper bag to keep them from flying around while being cracked.
  • With a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pot, smash the peppercorns in the bag until they’re broken into the desired consistency.

Prep Time      30 mins
Cook Time     25 mins.
Resting Time 15 mins
Total Time     1 hr. 15 mins
Servings:        4 – 6 people


  • 4 good-sized (½ to 1-pound) steaks (allow for ½ pound per person)
  • SmokED Kosher Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons SmokED Black Pepper, cracked
  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallots or onions
  • ¼ cup cognac or other brandy
  • 1 cup beef broth or stock
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley


Step 1: Prepare the Steaks

  1. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and lay on a cutting board.
  2. Sprinkle SmokED Kosher Salt generously over both sides of the steaks.
  3. Let the steaks come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Step 2: Sear the Steaks

  1. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, take the pan off the heat.
    • Use a pan that can handle high heat. Cast iron works well for this, or hard anodized aluminum.
  2. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels (steaks brown better if they are patted dry first) and place in the hot pan. Return the pan to the heat and turn the heat down to medium-high.
  3. Sear, without moving the steaks, for at least 4 minutes. Try to pick up a steak with tongs, and if it comes clean, flip it and turn the heat down to medium. If it sticks to the pan, let it cook for another minute or two on that side.
    • For this recipe, we seared on one side on high heat, and cooked the other side on lower heat. This way we got great flavor from the seared side, and better control over how done we wanted our steak by cooking the other side more slowly.
  4. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. Follow table below for Internal Temp to remove meat:
    1. Rare:                   120°F,
    2. Medium Rare: 130°F,
    3. Medium:            140°F,
    4. Medium Well:  155°F.
  5. Once the steak is done to your liking remove the meat to a baking sheet and sprinkle on a generous portion of the crushed SmokED Black Pepper on both sides of each steak. Tent with aluminum foil and let the steak rest while you are preparing the sauce.

 Step 3: Make the Sauce

  1. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the brandy and as it boils, deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge all the browned bits.
    • It helps to have a spoon or scraper one with a straight edge.
  3. Once the brandy is almost cooked away, add the beef stock and turn the heat to high.
  4. Boil the sauce down until there’s a noticeable trail when you drag a wooden spoon through the center of it (4 to 5 minutes).
  5. Pour in the heavy cream and resume boiling. Again, boil down until you can make that telltale trail from the wooden spoon.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the parsley and any remaining SmokED Black Pepper.
    • No more than 1 tablespoon, the rest should have already been used to pepper the steaks.
  7. Taste for salt and add SmokED Kosher Salt if needed.

 Step 4: Rest

  1. Remove the steaks from the heat, carefully – they’ll be HOT.
  2. Let these steaks ‘rest’ for at least 10 minutes … up to 15.
    • Simply place the steaks on a wood cutting board and lightly cover them with aluminum foil. Use enough foil that you can tuck it under the edge of the steaks all around and leave a peak, like a tent, above the meat.
    • This allows the moisture inside the steaks to redistribute so they will be moist and delicious. If you cut into the steaks right away, the liquid will actually pool out and your steaks will end up dry.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Pour the sauce over the steaks when they are served.
  2. Begin bragging (loudly) to your spouse, kids, and/or guests that this is quite possibly the best SmokED Pepper Steak ever concocted on planet Earth.