Swordfish au Poivre
Au poivre, the peppery French finish for a steak, is simpler and more versatile than its fancy-sounding name suggests. A quick pan sauce of cream and Cognac enrobes a seared piece of meat fueled with crushed black or green peppercorns. But the preparation doesn’t have to be just for meat. At Veronika, a new restaurant in Manhattan that was attracting pre-pandemic attention, the English chef Robert Aikens used the seasoning and sauce to finish a thick fist of tender celeriac, with excellent results. Boneless chicken breasts are another choice. Here I opted for swordfish steaks, though you could use another densely textured slab of fish, like halibut, instead. But producing au poivre is strictly à la minute: Have your ingredients ready to apply so the wait time for serving is minimal. The recipe is easily reduced to serve two for that date-night dinner while sequestered at home with a good bottle of Burgundy to share.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 24ounces swordfish about 1-inch thick, skin removed, in 4 portions
- Fine sea salt
- 1 ½tablespoons crushed black peppercorns
- 2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1large shallot, minced
- ½cup Cognac or brandy
- ⅔cup heavy cream
- 1tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
Step 1Heat the oven to 150 degrees. Have an oven-proof platter that can hold the fish in a single layer ready. Dust the swordfish lightly with salt. Sprinkle the pepper on both sides, pressing the grains into the fish.
Step 2Heat the oil to medium hot in a heavy skillet, about 12-inches in diameter, to hold the fish in a single layer. Sear the fish, pepper and all, until barely cooked through and still a bit pink in the center, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to the platter and place in the oven. Turn off the oven.
Step 3Add the butter to the skillet. When it melts add the shallot and sauté, stirring, until translucent, a couple of minutes. Add the Cognac and swirl in the pan a minute or so until somewhat reduced and syrupy. Add the cream and parsley and continue cooking, stirring, until somewhat thickened. Remove from the heat.
Step 4Remove the fish from the oven and pour the sauce over it, then serve, or transfer each portion to individual dinner plates, spoon on the sauce and serve.