The Ideal Cut Of Beef For Steak Au Poivre

Just because the phrase "steak and potatoes" is synonymous with "basic" doesn't mean your steak dinner has to be. When you're in the mood for a dish that's classic but uncommon, look no further than Mashed recipe developer Mackenzie Ryan's grilled steak au poivre. With origins in 19th-century Normandy, the dish features a cracked-pepper crust and a creamy cognac sauce. But with Ryan's American twist on the traditional recipe, there's a bit more flexibility regarding which cut of beef you can use. 

Typically, steak au poivre is made with pan-fried filet mignon. Because fat equates to flavor and filet mignon is a leaner cut of beef, more traditional recipes use the drippings in the pan to create a fuller steak flavor via the dish's signature sauce. Because Ryan's recipe calls for grilled steak, however, New York Strip is her go-to cut. "The New York Strip is a more economical alternative," she explained to Mashed, "Especially if you aren't extremely confident with the grill."

Try cuts other than the classic filet mignon

While New York Strip is tender like filet mignon, it's also rich in fat, making it the perfect candidate for low-pressure grilling. When a steak is pan-fried, the juices collect around it, keeping the meat supple and moist. On the grill, however, released fat tends to fall through the grates. The marbling interspersed throughout a strip steak adds moisture during the grilling process so the meat doesn't dry out.

The additional fat also provides the dish with plenty of meaty flavor. This is helpful, as the sauce in Mackenzie Ryan's recipe is made without pan drippings. While strip steaks can be pan-fried for a more traditional take on the French favorite, Ryan told Mashed, "Grilling the steak adds a smoky flavor that otherwise wouldn't exist."

Although you get more bang for your buck when you opt for New York Strip, Ryan points out that it's not the only cut that can be used to make steak au poivre. "Really, any steak can be used," she noted, "So don't miss the opportunity to enjoy the recipe because the right steak wasn't available." Even more important than the steak's cut is how well it's cooked. For recipes like Ryan's, which put the beef at center stage, experts recommend an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as it's cooked to medium-rare perfection, grilled steak au poivre can have the same tender texture and rich flavor as the pan-fried variety.