Is there anything better than Peppercorn Sauce to take your steak up a notch?
There are 2 kinds of ‘pepper’ steak in my mind. One has a gravy-like consistency with peppercorns, often tri-coloured peppercorns, throughout. The other is cracked black peppercorns often rubbed into the steak so they adhere.
This is a little bit in-between. It is a creamy sauce, thinner than gravy, with cracked black peppercorns. You could use 3 coloured peppercorns if you like to fancy it up.
Pepper steak reminds me of classic steakhouses – not quite sure why. Perhaps because I don’t usually make pepper steak at home so I usually only have it when I am at a steakhouse!
The sauce takes a bit of time to make because it has to reduce. You can make it early in the day if you like and reheat or finish it off when the steaks are coming off the grill.
You can use any cut of steak you like. I used bone in strip loins.
The sauce also goes well with mushrooms and/or baked potatoes to round out your meal.
I served these Blood Orange Squares for dessert. They make a nice light something-sweet at the end of the meal and they go well with a Tawny Port with its nutty, apricot flavours.
Chef’s Tips for Steak with Peppercorn Sauce
- Aim for 1 1/2″ thick steaks minimum if possible. Thinner than that tends to be tough and can overcook very easily.
- Serious Eats tested the theory that meat should be brought to room temperature before grilling to promote more even cooking and found there to be no discernible difference. They found that drying the meat’s surface before cooking gave a better ‘char’ to the steak. So…suit yourself!
- Grill steaks over high heat (roughly 400 degrees) about 2 1/2 minutes per side for rare, 3 minutes for medium-rare, about 5 minutes for medium (140 degrees F) or about 8 minutes for medium-well (150 degrees F). The most accurate way to test for doneness is with an instant read thermometer. You want the finished internal temperature to be about 125 degrees F for rare, 135 for medium rare, 140 for medium and 150 for well-done. BUT…
- You are going to tent the steaks and let them rest for about 5 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise during the tenting so take the steaks off the grill about 5 degrees before your finished target temperature. Resting allows the juices to re-distribute evenly throughout the meat and not bleed out all over your plate.
- Use the best broth you can source for the sauce. Do not use bouillon cubes because your sauce will be too salty. Homemade stock is ideal but you can also use the canned or boxed liquid broths.
- Sauce can be made earlier in the day but don’t add the whipping cream. Add the cream and reheat just before serving.
- Whipping cream is less prone to curdling in a sauce. Do not substitute milk or light cream.
- The sauce takes at least 35 minutes to reduce. Actual time will depend on the size of your saucepan and heat level. You want to get it the point that it coats the back of a spoon. This is still a relatively thin sauce. If you prefer a thicker sauce take a 1/4 cup of sauce out of the pan near the end and transfer to a jar with a tight lid. Add 1 Tbsp cornstarch and shake vigorously until cornstarch is dissolved. Add slurry back into the sauce and stir until it thickens.
Wine Pairing for Steak With Peppercorn Sauce
The protein in the steak and the flavour of the sauce mean that you can pair a substantial red wine with this dish. The proteins will tame the tannins so you might consider an red Bordeaux, a Malbec, a Rioja. I would look for an oaked medium to full bodied red. I had this with a Cotes du Rhone Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend and it was lovely.
If you are a die hard white fan look for big, bold, and oaked. A oaked California or Australian Chardonnay that falls in the full-bodied category.
- 6 1 1/2" thick steaks I used strip loin
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 Tbsp black peppercorns coarsely crushed (can substitute 3 coloured peppercorns)
- 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 3/4 cup beef broth
- 1 tbsp corn starch optional
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- Bring white wine, shallot and peppercorns to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Simmer about 5 minutes until mixture is reduced by half. Add the beef and chicken stock and boil until reduced to about 2 cups (may take 25 minutes or more). Add whipping cream and cook another 6 minutes or so until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- (Optional -if you want a thicker sauce, before you add the whipping cream, remove 1/4 cup of stock, transfer to a jar with a tightly sealed lid. Add 1 Tbsp cornstarch and shake vigorously until evenly mixed. Return slurry to the stock mixture and stir until thickened. Add the whipping cream and stir till evenly mixed.)
- Heat the grill on high.
- Grill steaks over high heat (roughly 400 degrees) about 2 1/2 minutes per side for rare, 3 minutes for medium-rare, about 5 minutes for medium (140 degrees F) or about 8 minutes for medium-well (150 degrees F). The most accurate way to test for doneness is with an instant read thermometer insertedin the side of the steak. You want the finished internal temperature to be about 125 degrees F for rare, 135 for medium rare, 140 for medium and 150 for well-done. BUT...remove steaks from the grill about 5 degrees before the target temperature above. Steaks will continue to cook dring the tenting process.
- Tent the steaks and let them rest for about 5 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise during the tenting. Resting allows the juices to re-distribute evenly throughout the meat and not bleed out all over your plate.
- Drizzle steak with sauce or pass sauce seperately.