Dec 052011

Steak Au Poivre Du Diable- Before and After

I developed this recipe as a submission to a Food52 contest, the theme of which was “Your best dish you (intentionally) set on fire.” When I think of foods intentionally set on fire, classical Steak Au Poivre springs to mind.  I came up with a riff on that stalwart French dish, and took it through the pantry of Puebla, Mexico… all the better to include the darkest and most devilish ingredients suitable for a dance in the flames. I held on to the technique, as well as the key elements (peppercorns, cognac, cream, and butter), but added a molé-reminiscent list of spices, plus the devil’s brew in the form of ground coffee, to the steak rub. Out of the flames comes a rich, dark, and spicy pan sauce, perfect over a seared steak topped with a charred chilé.

Steak Au Poivre Du Diable


  • 2 boneless strip steaks (such as NY steaks)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, coarsely-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coffee
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon ground chile pasilla molido (may substitute ground New Mexico chile)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated into 1 tablespoon portions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 fresh jalapeňo or large serrano chiles
  • to taste sea salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Salt steaks generously a few hours in advance.
  2. Make dry rub: Combine ground black peppercorns, coffee, cocoa, ground chile, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and brown sugar, and stir until incorporated. Set aside.
  3. At preparation time, char jalapenos over stovetop flame (hold with metal tongs) until skin is bubbly and blackened, and set aside.
  4. Pat steaks dry. Work dry rub into both sides of each steak.
  5. Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter together in large saucepan.
  6. Once oil and butter are hot, add steaks. Flip only once in order to get a nice, dark sear on each side. (2-4 minutes per side depending on thickness of steaks and desired done-ness.)
  7. Remove steaks from pan and set aside; tent with foil. Pour off remaining butter and oil.
  8. Keeping pan off heat, pour in the cognac.
  9. Dip pan, away from you, so that the cognac settles to where it is just touching the burner, as you return it to the heat. You should be rewarded with a nice flame emanating from the edge of the pan that touches the burner. Level the pan and shake vigorously and carefully over the heat until the flames subside.
  10. Stir in cream and bring to a boil. Stir often until sauce thickens and reduces.
  11. Stir in last tablespoon of butter until incorporated and the sauce looks glossy, and remove from heat.
  12. Slice steaks on a bias and plate each of them; drizzle with a generous helping of pan sauce and top each with a charred chile. Sprinkle with a good finishing salt, and serve.


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