Swordfish au Poivre

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.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Heat 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.
  2. Step 2

    Heat 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.
  3. Step 3

    Add 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.
  4. Step 4

    Remove 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.