What kind of steak? Any good quality cut of steak will work,
for example top sirloin, ribeye, filet mignon, porterhouse, T-bone, or
New York strip. (Avoid chuck, that's best left for pot roasts.) We used
inch-thick steaks, but you could go as thin as half-inch to as thick as
- 4 good-sized steaks (1/2 pound to a pound each, allow for 1/2 pound
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, canola oil, or other high smoke-point
- 3 Tbsp black peppercorns, cracked
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots or onions
- 1/4 cup cognac or other brandy
- 1 cup beef broth or stock (for gluten-free version use gluten-free
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 Sprinkle salt generously over both sides of the
steaks and let them come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
2 Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. (Use a pan
that can handle high heat. Cast iron works well for this, or anodized
aluminum.) When the oil begins to smoke, take the pan off the heat. 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. 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 sear on one side on high heat, and cook on lower
heat on the other side. This way you get great flavor from the seared
side, and better control over how done you want your steak by cooking
the other side more slowly.
3 Use the finger
test for doneness or a meat thermometer. For rare, remove the meat
from the pan when the inside reaches 120°F, for medium rare 125-130°F.
Once the steak is done to your liking remove the meat to a baking sheet
and sprinkle on a generous portion of crushed black peppercorns on both
sides of each steak. Tent with aluminum foil and let the steak rest
while you are preparing the sauce.
4 Make the sauce. Add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the brandy and as it boils, deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom
of the pan with a wooden spoon (helps to have one with a straight edge)
to dislodge all the browned bits. Once the brandy is almost cooked
away, add the beef stock and turn the heat to high. Boil the sauce down
until there's a noticeable trail when you drag a wooden spoon through
the center of it (4-5 minutes).
Pour in the heavy cream and resume boiling. Again, boil down until
you can make that telltale trail from the wooden spoon. Turn off the
heat and add the parsley and any remaining black pepper (no more than 1
Tbsp, the rest should have already been used to pepper the steaks).
Taste for salt and add if needed.
Pour the sauce over the steaks right when you serve.
Serves 4-6, depending on how big the steaks, and how hungry the