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What’s cooking today: Green peppercorn sauce



What’s cooking today: Green peppercorn sauce

Tony Jackman’s green peppercorn sauce for steak. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

When dried in the sun, green peppercorns turn black. But when picked while still green and preserved in brine they retain a fresh bite quite different from the sharp tang of the ripened peppercorn. And they make for a great pepper sauce.

This pepper sauce is quite different from the creamy, off-white sauce ubiquitous to many steakhouses or down at your local branch of Spur. I’m not knocking those at all, many of them are superb, though my favourite was always the one served at the old Buccaneer steakhouse in Gardens, Cape Town, which had lots of tomato in it.

My green peppercorn sauce is creamy, but the rich, dark brown colour comes from the other things in it, not least red wine, brandy (or Cognac) and some sweetening from Port (or Sherry if you prefer).

Serve it slathered over your favourite cut of steak cooked just the way you like it.


3 Tbsp butter

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

80 ml tomato purée

3 or 4 Tbsp green peppercorns, drained

500 ml beef stock

250 ml good red wine

3 Tbsp sweet Sherry or Marsala

1 Tbsp mustard

3 Tbsp Port

4 Tbsp brandy or Cognac

200 ml fresh cream

Salt to taste

A few generous grindings of ground black pepper (yes, you want that black pepper flavour as well as the green peppercorns)


Melt the butter in a deep heavy-bottomed pot.

Add the onion and garlic and sauté till lightly browned (not too blond, you want some caramelised flavour for this sauce).

Add the tomato purée and simmer, stirring, for three or four minutes for the tartness to soften.

Add the red wine and cook it down to about a fifth of its volume.

Add the green peppercorns, beef stock, mustard, Sherry, Port, brandy (or Cognac) and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook gently for about 15 minutes, stirring, for all the flavours to come to their full potential and meld.

Season with salt and pepper and taste, adjusting if you need to.

Stir in the cream and bring back to a simmer, and continue cooking it gently while the cream melds perfectly into the sauce and attains a luscious consistency. It’s ready… almost.

The final flourish, however, happens once the steaks are cooked. After frying your steaks in a frying pan or skillet (and while they’re resting in a warm spot), pour the sauce (or as much as the pan will carry) into the pan or skillet and quickly bring to a brisk bubble, while scraping up “the bits” at the bottom. A knob of butter, stirred in, and your sauce should be truly scrumptious. DM/TGIFood

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected]

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