Stroll through the neighborhoods of Paris and you will discover the city's famous bistros, where you can enjoy hearty, home-style food and friendly conversation. Steak au poivre or pepper steak is a well-known French dish that you will most likely find on every bistro menu. It consists of a steak, traditionally a filet mignon as shown here, coated with cracked peppercorns and then cooked.
I used the Williams-Sonoma peppercorn paste, which combines a hint of garlic and allspice with a blend of cracked peppercorns – black Tellicherry, pink, green and white, in an oil base. The peppercorns form a crust on the steak when cooked and provide a pungent but complementary counterpoint to the rich flavor of the high-quality beef. While usually prepared in a skillet, I grilled the steak taking care to not let the peppercorns burn. Steak au poivre is often accompanied by a pan sauce consisting of reduced cognac, heavy cream, and the fond from the bottom of the skillet. As I had no skillet with fond from with which to make a sauce, I prepared a classic mushroom sauce using red wine and beef demi-glace. Accompanied by a traditional side of mashed potatoes, it made for an excellent and different take on steak on the grill.