Steak au poivre
This is a French steakhouse favourite that can be made with whichever cut of well-marbled boneless steak you like. The steaks shouldn't be too thick, though, or they'll take longer to cook.
If you want the dish to be less peppery, use only black peppercorns, rather than a mix of black and white, because white peppercorns are hotter.
2 steaks, about 200 grams each and 1cm thick, at room temperature
1 heaped tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 heaped tbsp whole white peppercorns
Fine sea salt
Olive oil, for brushing the steaks
Cooking oil, for the skillet
1 large shallot, minced
80ml cognac or brandy
Fresh chives, minced
Roughly crush the peppercorns in a mortar.
Brush both sides of the steaks with olive oil then season them with salt.
Sprinkle the crushed peppercorns over both sides of the steaks and firmly press them with your fingertips so they adhere to the meat.
Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron) over a medium flame then brush it with cooking oil.
When the pan is very hot, add the steaks and cook for three to four minutes on each side (depending on thickness) for rare, or until done to your liking.
Remove the steaks from the skillet and set them aside while preparing the sauce.
Pour off all but 15ml of the fat from the skillet, then add the shallot and stir over a low flame for about a minute.
Carefully add the cognac - it might ignite.
Simmer for one minute, stir in the cream.
Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any burnt bits from the bottom of the pan then simmer until the sauce is reduced so that it lightly coats the back of the spoon.
Taste for seasoning.
Spoon the sauce over the steaks, sprinkle with chives and serve immediately.