Steak: it’s Dad’s first choice when it comes to what he wants to eat for that special Father’s Day meal, but you don’t need to fire up the grill or go out for the best steak in town.

The French dress this recipe up with the fancy sounding name, Steak au Poivre, but don’t let the name intimidate, this little steak is nothing short of amazing. It’s a pan-fried fillet with a rich cognac and cream reduction, topped off with baked potato and steamed vegetables. Best of all, with a few hacks, it can be ready in about the time it takes to drive to the big-city steakhouse.

Pan fried steak congers images of overcooked grisly cube steak, but when you’re spending premium dollars, the controllable method is more reliable and consistent than an outdoor fire ever can be.   

First of all, pick the best meat. When it comes to fresh meat, String St. Market is known for its consistent quality and freshness. Ken Duke, owner of Spring St. has tenderloin medallions (filet mignon) for $19.49 per lb. Or opt for the whole ribeye, a better value at $8.99 per lb.

Season the steak with salt (sprinkle on too much, then add a little more). Dust with black pepper. That’s it, forget the fancy rubs, seasonings and marinades. Less is more.

Then comes the cognac, Interstate Liquors owner Tammy Harrington suggests Hennessy Cognac for the job. The French brandy (a bourbon would work too) is the perfect tool to loosen all the yummy flavorings seared into the pan.

The secret is to deglaze the pan while the steaks rest. All that brown stuff that you’ve been scraping off when doing dishes, you should have been using as flavoring.

You can simply boil off the alcohol while deglazing the pan, but flambé is more fun. Never use a nonstick pan; stainless steel is best.

Finish by adding heavy cream at a soft boil for a few minutes. Microwave the potatoes, then a frozen steamer bag of dad’s favorite veggies while the sauce reduces.

 A light toss in the sauce to coat the steaks and you have a meal that dad won’t soon forget.


Steak au Poivre


4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each, 1 1/2 inches thick

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup cognac, plus 1 teaspoon

1 cup heavy cream

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt.

Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, the bottom of a cast iron skillet, or using a mallet and pie pan. Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the fillets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, gently

place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean. Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or fire stick. Gently shake pan until the flames die. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and season, to taste, with salt. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.

Use extreme caution when igniting alcohol. Remove the pan from the heat source before adding the alcohol. Pour the alcohol into the pan and carefully ignite with a match or click lighter. Return the pan to the heat and gently swirl to reduce the flames.


John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

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