culinary review

A Classic Approach To Beef Tenderloin: Steak Au Poivre

Last Modified: 10/12/07
First Published: 09/03/07
Views: 11180
Views: 11180
The other day we had the opportunity to create something out of a large center-cut beef tenderloin. This was a beautiful piece of meat and deserved a classic and gentle approach, and where did we turn if not to Alton Brown. He did two very good and informative episodes on beef tenderloin, where he created the classic “steak au poivre” among a few dishes. That seemed like the ultimate preparation for our fine cut of meat.

So, we started out with cleaning our beef: slicing off small pieces of tissue and fat and removing a small piece of silver skin. Next we divided our large piece into 3 smaller pieces, and the center piece we cut into four steaks, each about an inch and a half thick. Now we were ready to cook our steak au poivre.



  • 4 filet mignon, an inch and a half thick each, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppers, crushed with a hammer

  • 1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons of brandy
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt

Dip each steak into a dish with crushed pepper, apply generously and salt using kosher salt on both sides. Melt butter and oil in a sauté pan (we used a heavy cast iron pan) and set on medium-high heat. Place all four steaks in the pan, and cook for four minutes on each side for a medium-rare result.

Once they are done, put them in a pan and place in low temperature/warm oven while you make the sauce. Place sauté pan (or cast-iron) back on the stove on medium heat. Utilizing the scrapes (fonds) from the browning processes, pour in about 1/3 cup of brandy, and cook while scraping/whisking the pan. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and simmer and reduce. Lastly add the remaining 2 teaspoons of brandy and taste off with some salt.

Retrieve the steaks from the oven and place them in the pan. Cover with sauce and cook for a minute. Place a steak on each plate and top with some sauce.

This was a truly delicious meal which we served with some balsamic-sautéed potatoes, string beans and some fresh parsley sprinkled on top. And of course, a nice glass of Pinot Noir to top it off…


When you think about it, this is a ridiculously simple dish. Since the cut is so good, you don’t need to season the meat too much, nor cook it very long, and the sauce was perfect in its creamy – brandy simplicity. The meat literally melted in your mouth and turned out perfectly medium rare, (more leaning towards rare than medium, however that might depend on the fact that our meat wasn’t completely room temperature…) After the steaks were cut up, this dish didn’t take more then 12-14 minutes to make, so it’s quite perfect if you happen to have little time but want to create a very impressive, exquisite dish.