Steak au Poivre is amazing. A bit of a kick with the fresh ground pepper, and the super luscious sauce makes this classic steak amazing. Break up the whole peppercorns with a heavy skillet between two pieces of wax paper or a spice grinder.
Spread 1/4 cup of the cracked pepper on a clean surface. Dredge the steaks through the pepper, shaking off excess. Don't try to cover the entire steaks in the pepper. There should still be red visible from the steaks after they have been dredged.
Melt butter in a large saute pan over high heat. Working in batches, add the steaks and sear each side for 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook the steaks for another 8 minutes, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare (135°F) or 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium (155°F). Remove and tent under foil, or place on a baking rack and pan and keep warm in a low-temp oven (200°).
MAKE THE SAUCE
In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
Add the shallots and saute until the shallots are soft, about 2 minutes. Stirring frequently with a wooden sppon.
Add Cognac and wine (stand back - it may flame!). Bring to a strong simmer and cook until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cook for 12 minutes until thickened and almost syrupy.
Turn off the heat and stir in the cream. Turn the heat back to medium, and cook until thickened again, about 8 minutes. Stirring frequently.
Add the reserved cracked pepper (about 1/4 cup), balsamic vinegar, and salt, to taste.
ASSEMBLE THE DISH
Remove the steaks from the oven and place on warmed plates.
Spoon a layer of the sauce over the top of each steak and place the remaining sauce in a bowl for passing at the table. Serve at once!