I think I’ve mentioned my love of Steak-Frites before, haven’t I? It may make for a straightforward dinner but there’s a reason that you can order it in pretty much every restaurant. Indeed, there are few things in life that can bring as much pleasure as a properly cooked steak and a generous pile of chips.

Except maybe the almost retro charm that comes from serving it with a Peppercorn Sauce.

Although this is a fairly basic recipe I do think that it is apparent if you don’t quite get it right. I’ve made peppercorn sauces in the past that are either too peppery or totally lacking in any discernable punch. Or sauces that were so thick you have to spread them across the meat, rather than pour them. The one key thing is to make sure you use the juices from the pan as the base for the sauce. There’s a lot of flavour in there to get you going and it’s essential.

Oh and remember, you can always add more pepper if needed but you can’t take any away once it’s in the pan. Keep tasting the sauce as you’re reducing it down and adjust the seasonings as you see fit. Though in a worst case scenario, you should at least have a nicely cooked steak and some chips, so can always serve them with some mayonnaise instead!

Steak with Peppercorn Sauce

Steak-Frites is one of my favourite things to cook and eat, and here the peppercorn sauce brings plenty of retro charm. As the sauce is made either side of cooking the steaks it can all be done in one pan – saving on time and washing up!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Beef
Servings: 2


for the Steaks

  • 2 Sirloin Steaks approx 225g each
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt Flakes to taste

for the Sauce

  • 1 Shallot peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 4 tbsp Cognac
  • 250 ml Good Quality Beef Stock
  • 4 tbsp Crème Fraîche
  • 3 tsp Whole Black Peppercorns coarsely crushed
  • Sea Salt Flakes to taste


  • Remove the steaks from the fridge 10-15 minutes before cooking them. Brush with the olive oil and put to one side until needed.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and fry for 5 minutes or so until softened and translucent. Remove from the pan and put to one side.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high. Lower the steaks into the pan and allow to cook for 3 minutes – avoid the temptation to move them around the pan. When ready turn them over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes on the other side. When cooked, remove them to a warmed plate to rest. 
  • Add the cognac to the hot pan and allow it to reduce to a thick, syrupy consistency – this should take less than a minute. Use a wooden spoon to loosen any meaty bits stuck to the base of the pan and mix them into the sauce. Return the shallots to the pan, followed by the beef stock and bring to a simmer. 
  • Pour in the crushed peppercorns and stir well, before adding the crème fraîche and stirring to combine. Bring back to a simmer and allow the flavours to mix for a minute or two. You want it to bubble gently but don’t let it boil. 
  • At this point you can return the steaks to the pan and coat them in the sauce before serving. I prefer to serve the sauce alongside and let everyone decide how much of the warm, peppery flavour they fancy.
  • Serve immediately. 


The cooking times for the steak here should result in it being medium-rare to medium, assuming it’s a 2cm thick steak. If your steaks are a different size or you want them cooked differently then adjust the times accordingly. Reducing things by 1 minute on each side should give you rare and adding 2 minutes per side will get you to well done.

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