One Ingredient Gives This Classic French Dish New Life

Steak au poivre sounds fancy, but it's the perfect dinner for busy weeknights. All you need is a pan.

September 17, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

Steak au poivre is the perfect dinner. It calls for a mere handful of ingredients, many of which you’ve likely got on hand. It’s quick-cooking enough to have as a weeknight meal yet très chic enough to serve at a dinner party. And did I mention it only requires one pan?

If you’re unfamiliar with the classic French dish, it’s a meal worth getting to know. Steak au poivre is a simple steak supper with two key components: First, the beef, typically filet mignon, is crusted in coarsely ground black pepper. After the steak is seared in a pan, the brown peppery bits left behind in the pan get deglazed with either sherry or cognac and whisked into a snappy sauce.

One might argue that a dish so perfect doesn’t need any tweaking. But when I come across such a dish, I like to find new ways to enjoy it so I can make it more often and never grow tired of it.

With this recipe, I gave steak au poivre an update while still honoring everything there is to love about it: its short ingredient list, fast cooking time, and one-pan casual attitude. Surprisingly enough, all it took was the addition of one ingredient: mustard. But not just one type of mustard—deux!

Instead of coating the steak in just peppercorn, I upped the ante with some yellow mustard seed. The addition of the mustard seed gives the steak a mellow, less pungent crust with a touch of sweetness, making it more delicate-tasting than a straight-up peppercorn crust while still embodying its signature crunchy exterior.

After the steak is seared and removed to rest, I added in some shallot with a few tablespoons of butter to begin the pan sauce. Once sautéed, the pan is deglazed in typical fashion. I used cognac (instead of sherry) because it’s what Julia Child recommends in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But if you’ve only got sherry on hand, that works too. Once the booze burns off a bit, heavy cream and a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard are whisked in.

The Dijon does two things in the sauce: It thickens it into a luscious, creamy texture and adds acidity, creating a rich yet slight tanginess that pairs perfectly with the boldly flavored steak.

I like to serve the steak with a few thick slices of heirloom tomato and a hunk of blue cheese. Since it only takes one pan to cook, these no-fuss, no-pan sides make cleanup a breeze, giving you more time to enjoy that chilled glass of Beaujolais nouveau.

What's your favorite way to cook filet mignon? Let us know in the comments below.
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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning producer, recipe developer and food writer. His favorite food is chocolate chip cookies (with salt.)


yumzen September 19, 2019
Yummy. I usually do not like tomato but after seeing it I just love tomatoes.
HalfPint September 17, 2019
I like generous topping of duxelles on my filet mignon.