Your Next Peppercorn Steak Sauce Batch Deserves Whole Peppercorns

While bottled steak sauces may be tomato and vinegar-based, there are different condiments that can complement the meat. One of these is a brandy-peppercorn sauce, and developer Catherine Brookes raves that her recipe for this is "super creamy, peppery, and flavorful." She not only says it "pairs so perfectly with steak," but feels that "it's also great spooned over mushrooms, on mashed potatoes, chicken, or to dip fries in." Sounds pretty versatile, all right.

One thing that you'll need to have on hand if you want to make the sauce exactly as Brookes does is some whole peppercorns. She prefers using these to pre-ground pepper as, in her opinion, "Using whole peppercorns adds a deeper black pepper flavor to the sauce." While she prefers to crush her peppercorns with a rolling pin, it might be easier and less messy to use a pepper grinder. If you find that your spice mill makes the pepper flakes too fine, though, you can instead make cracked pepper by placing the peppercorns on a cutting board and squashing them with a cast-iron pan.

How to make your peppercorn sauce alcohol-free

While Brookes tells us, "I love the slight kick that the brandy gives" to the pepper sauce, it is still possible to enjoy this condiment even if you're abstaining from alcohol. Zero-proof brandies might not be quite as prevalent as some other types of alcohol-free liquor, butĀ Best Regards and Arkay are two brands that will work quite well in this recipe.

If you would prefer a less expensive brandy replacement, you can always purchase a small bottle of brandy extract. This may not be entirely alcohol-freeĀ but will at least allow you to use a much smaller amount. Fruit juice, too, is often touted as a brandy substitute (most types of brandy are made from grapes, but some are made from apples or other fruits), but it might be too sweet for this sauce. Instead, you could use a small splash of vinegar. Again, if you're not averse to using a tiny amount of alcohol such as might be found in a flavoring extract, you can even add a few drops of vanilla. The combination works well because the vinegar provides some bite while the vanilla tempers the tang with a certain je ne sais quoi that goes surprisingly well with the cream and pepper in the sauce.