Pepper steak has long been part of the classic French repertoire. This is a modern variation on that theme. It substitutes green peppercorns ('fresh' peppercorns sold bottled or canned) for the traditional black (dried) peppercorns used to season the steak in the past. Green peppercorns are not as hot as black peppercorns and have a fruitier taste.
30 ml (2 tbsp) green peppercorns
6 sirloin steaks, about 175 g (6 oz) each
15 ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
30 g(1 oz) butter
45 ml (3 tbsp) cognac
300 ml (10 fl oz) Brown Veal Stock
225 ml (8 fl oz) cream
Watercress, to garnish
The chef has some guidelines to determine when a steak is cooked.
Coarsely crush the peppercorns with the bottom of a small heavy saucepan. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and then sprinkle with the peppercorns, pressing the peppercorns onto the surface of the steaks.
Heat 7.5 ml (1.5 tsp) of the oil and 15 g (1/2 oz) of the butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Add 3 steaks, brown on both sides and then continue to cook until done as desired. Transfer to a serving platter; cover to keep warm. Discard the fat from the pan and repeat with the remaining oil and butter to cook the remaining steaks.
Return all the steaks to the pan, add the cognac and carefully light it. When the flames die, transfer the steaks to a platter. Add the stock and cream to the pan and deglaze over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any cooked particles. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half, then season to taste with salt and pepper and strain.
To serve, arrange the steaks in the centre of the platter and spoon the sauce over. Garnish the platter with watercress. Serve the remaining sauce in a sauceboat. Accompany with the Pommes de Terre Sautées à Cru.