Steak Au Poivre With Cream Spinach and Double-Stuffed Potato

By Cal Virgilio

It’s the dead of winter and going outside to light the grill isn’t exactly on my to-do list. But even though it’s February and 20 degrees outside, I’d still love to enjoy a good steak. My favorite steak to cook indoors is Filet Mignon. It’s delicate flavor and tender meat bodes well when seared in a cast-iron pan and finished in a high-heated oven.

Filet Mignon is delicious, but not nearly as rich and marbled as a rib-eye or porterhouse cut of meat. So making a pan sauce will add a richer flavor to the steak.


Steak au Poivre, translated as “steak with pepper,” is a classic French dish. The steak is coated with cracked pepper, seared in a pan and then finished off in the oven. While the steak cooks, deglaze the pan with cognac or brandy, scraping the good bits off the pan. Either light the brandy with a flame or wait until the liquor burns off. Sauté minced shallots and add heavy cream and reduce until slightly thickened. Finish the sauce with a dash more of cognac and a few whole peppercorns. Voila! You should pair a great steak like this with delicious Bordeaux wine of Napa Cabernet.


Keys to Great Steak:

  1. High Qaulity Meat: Choose meat that is either USDA top-tier choice or prime grade. There are other certifications and brands to choose, such as Angus beef. My personal favorite has been Braveheart Black Angus steak. It is sold at “The Meathouse” in Summit, NJ.
  2. Salt the meat, then salt some more: People rarely salt their meat well enough. When I took a cooking class in New York focused on beef, I couldn’t believe how much salt the chef coated on the steak. But once it was done cooking, I could taste the difference in flavor. I’m not saying you should leave a layer of white around your steak, but grab some kosher salt and make it rain!
  3. Sear It Well! Give a nice crust to your steak. When cooking on a stove top, I recommend using a cast-iron skillet and using a cooking fat with a very high smoke point. I prefer searing steak in Duck Fat. It is flavorful, has a high smoke point, and surprisingly, it is lower in saturated fats than butter.
  4. Cook It Perfectly: Medium-rare is the preferred doneness for Filet Mignon. It shouldn’t still be mooing, but it should have a warm red center. You can use a thermometer and it should read 120 degrees for medium-rare. But the more you cook steak, the more you’ll learn if its cooked by pushing down on the top of your steak with your index finger. Medium rare meat should have the same spring as the skin that is just below your thumb.
  5. Let it Rest: Once your steak is cooked, place it on a cutting board and cover it with tin foil for 5 minutes. This lets the juices of the meat settle and the flavors to meld. If you cut the steak as soon as you finish cooking it, all of the juices will pour out of the meat onto your plate.

Steak Au Poivre With Cream Spinach and Double-Stuffed Potato


    For The Steak Au Poivre
  • 2 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of duck fat or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon cognac, brandy or cream sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • For The Spinach
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • For the Potatoes
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. Salted Butter
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste


    For the Steak
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Remove the steaks from the fridge and salt the meat on both sides. Let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or the bottom of a cast-iron skillet. Spread the peppercorns evenly on a play and press each side of the steaks into the peppercorns so that the surfaces are coated.
  4. Heat a cast-iron skillet and melt the duck fat or olive oil in the skillet is very hot and just smoking.. Place the steaks in the skillet and sear for 3 minutes on one side. Then, flip the steaks and sear the other side for two more minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat on the skillet and move the steaks to a parchment-lined tray, place in the oven for another 8-10 minutes. Check the doneness of the meat with either a meat thermometer (should read 120 degrees for medium rare) or by touching the middle of each steak with you clean finger. ( The firmer the meat, the more cooked it will be; remember, it will continue to cook when removed from heat.)
  6. Take the steaks out of the oven, place each on a cutting board and cover with foil to keep warm.
  7. In the skillet you used to sear the steaks, add the brandy or cognac and carefully ignite it with a lighter to burn off the alcohol.
  8. Once the flames die down, turn the heat to medium and add the minced shallot. Sauté until fragrant.
  9. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Whisk until the sauce coats the back of the spoon, about five minutes.
  10. Turn off the heat and add a dash more of the brandy. Season with salt to your liking . To serve, spoon sauce over the top each steak and garnish with crushed peppercorns.
  11. For The Potatoes
  12. Wash the potatoes and fork each potato several times. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for one hour or until soft on the inside.
  13. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  14. Cut the top third of each potato off with a knife and scoop the insides of the potato into a large mixing bowl. Be sure to not cut through the skin since you'll be using it to stuff the potatoes.
  15. Add the heavy cream and sour cream and butter to mixing bowl and mash a potato masher until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  16. Scoop the potato mixture back into the larger skin portion of each potato. Each potato should be look over-stuffed.
  17. Place the stuffed-potatoes on a parchment-lined tray and put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with the steak.
  18. For the Spinach
  19. Heat a medium-sized sauté pan and add the olive oil. Add the shallot and sauté for two minutes until soft and fragrant.
  20. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for another minute.
  21. Add the cream and all it to thicken for 4-5 minutes so that it coats the back of a spoon.
  22. Add the spinach, turn the heat to low, and cover with a lid for 3-4 minutes. It will initially look as though the pan is overflowing with spinach, but once the lid is placed on top the spinach will wilt drastically.
  23. Take off the lid, season with salt, pepper, and add the grated nutmeg and parmesan. Stir the spinach to mix the flavors and prepare for serving.


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