The Absolute Best Cuts Of Steak For A Classic Steak Au Poivre

There are times when nothing but a big, juicy grilled steak will satisfy. No condiments, just salt and pepper to come between you and the beef. But other times you want a more elegant presentation, and steak au poivre is a classic choice. Crusted in spicy peppercorns and napped with creamy pan sauce, this steak dish allows you to show off your sauce skills and still enjoy a meaty dinner. There are so many cuts of beef available that it's worth taking a moment to consider which cuts work best for a recipe like this, where the bold flavors of the pepper and sauce are as key to the meal as the meat they're served with.

The classic cut of steak used for steak au poivre is filet mignon, cut from the beef tenderloin. There are a couple of reasons filet reigns supreme for this preparation. First, they are the least flavorful of beef cuts, lacking the connective tissue and marbling that add flavor and texture to other steaks. The crushed pepper and flavorful sauce enhance the mild flavor of a filet steak, giving it more character. Next, the lack of marbling requires a quick cooking technique to not dry out the expensive cut, and steak au poivre needs a fast sear to prevent burning the peppercorns. That's a win-win for any grill master. Although the filet mignon might be the best choice, other steaks could stand in.

Breaking down the other cuts to consider

When you look at other steaks, keep in mind why tenderloin is the perfect choice for this recipe, and let those concepts be your guide. Because a steak au poivre is coated in cracked peppercorns, it can't spend too much time in the pan pepper side down, or the spice will burn. That means choosing a steak that's not too thick, or too thin, depending on the interior temperature you prefer. You'll also want to avoid bone-in steaks because they create an uneven surface where the pepper might not toast properly. Steaks with thick exterior fatty layers will leave excessive melted oil in the pan, which interferes with making the tasty pan sauce, so avoid those, or trim them well.

A few steaks commonly available that fit those limitations are well-trimmed New York strip steaks, sirloins, hanger steaks, and flank steaks. You can trim those cuts into round medallions if you like the look of traditional steak au poivre, or enjoy them as is.