Pepper Steak

So you’ve bought your aged fillet steak from the butchers - the challenge is cooking it to perfection. It’s not rocket science.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 x 170gfillet steaks
  • 3tbspblack peppercorns
  • 3tbspwhite peppercorns
  • 2tbspcoriander seeds
  • 1tbsppink peppercorns
  • 1 1/2tspfine sea salt
  • 2tbspvegetable oil
  • 2tbspsoft butter
  • 75mlCognac
  • 200mlbeef stock
  • 180mldouble cream
  • 3tbspsoft green peppercorns in brine

Tips

  • Tip 1Way to go. • The simpler the method and the accompaniments, the better. Don’t be intimidated. • Never cook a steak straight from the fridge. Allow it to come up to room temperature (30 minutes for an 8oz steak.) • My preference is to season the steak the second before it goes in the pan, not before. • Heavy, cast-iron pans are the best as modern aluminium cools incredibly quickly. Ridge grill-pans are ideal if you want to char the meat. • Use a combination of oil and butter; oil for the high heat, butter for flavour.
  • Tip 2How to serve steak. My repertoire is very small: peppered steak, Béarnaise sauce, sauce Bordelaise (red wine with sliced poached bone marrow) and a simple red wine sauce with chopped raw shallots. If I’m really pushing the boat out, I might do a flavoured butter, such as shallots in white wine, chopped parsley and a tiny bit of garlic. And chips, of course. That goes without saying.
  • Tip 3Is it done? For a home cook the problem generally revolves around figuring out when it’s done. Professional cooks rely on a touch test. A rare steak should feel like the fleshy triangle of skin between the thumb and index finger of a relaxed hand. A medium steak will feel like the same spot on a clenched fist and if you want it well done, compare it to the tip of your nose. A point worth remembering is that thicker steaks will continue to cook for a while once removed from the pan.
Pepper Steak

Method

Step 1

Pepper Steak step 1

Coarsely grind the black, white and pink peppercorns together with the coriander seeds and sea salt using a pestle and mortar

Step 2

Pepper Steak step 2

Roll the steaks in the spice mixture, pressing firmly to embed them into the meat – set aside at room temperature

Step 3

Pepper Steak step 3

Heat a heavy frying pan over a high heat. Add a little vegetable oil and then the steak (it’s vital that the pan is very hot at this stage)

Step 4

Pepper Steak step 4

Cook for two minutes over a high heat before adding the butter and continue cooking until blood rises to the surface

Step 5

Pepper Steak step 5

Turn the meat at this point and cook on the second side for a further 2 minutes for rare or continue until the blood rises to the surface again which indicates that your steak is medium

Step 6

Pepper Steak step 6

Or use a digital instant–read thermometer. Cook to around 45°C for rare, 52°C for medium rare, 55-60°C for medium and 75°C for well done

Step 7

Pepper Steak step 7

Discard any excess fat from the pan, reduce tahe heat and add a good splash of Cognac

Step 8

Pepper Steak step 8

Then add a glug of white wine

Step 9

Pepper Steak step 9

Remove the steaks from the pan and transfer to a plate which has a smaller upturned plate on top (to collect any juices from the resting meat). Cover loosely with foil, leave to rest in a warm place, either above the stove or on the open door of a low oven. Add the stock, gently simmer to reduce by 2/3

Step 10

Pepper Steak step 10

Add the cream and soft green peppercorns

Step 11

Pepper Steak step 11

Simmer to reduce a coating consistency

Step 12

Pepper Steak step 12

Return any juices released from the meat while resting

Step 13

Pepper Steak step 13

Coat the steaks generously with the sauce and accompany with a bundle of fine French beans and of course a big bowl of thin, crispy chips