whisky peppercorn sauce recipe

Steak and Scottish Whisky Peppercorn Sauce

A whisky peppercorn sauce is a twist on a classic steak sauce and it works really well. If you use a high quality whisky or bourbon, you’ll get an incredible smokey flavour which pairs beautifully with a grilled steak.

For this recipe we use Torabhaig’s Special Reserve Batch Strength whisky from Scotland. It’s highly peated providing incredible sweet smokey notes and has a light golden, natural colour which comes from the aging process in ex-bourbon casks. This whisky works so well with the smokey flavour shining through in the final sauce and marries perfectly with the spicy, hot green peppercorns. It’s a steak sauce you will really want to make again and again and it will stay in your repertoire. Perfect for a special occasion or even a week night meal, it’s quick and doesn’t require much prep work.

Scottish whisky peppercorn sauce recipe

For this recipe, the whisky peppercorn sauce is served with a grilled sirloin/strip steak and triple cooked chips.

Whisky Peppercorn Sauce for Steak

A classic peppercorn sauce is a thing of beauty – rich, decadent and luxurious. The green peppercorns swim in a thick, capuccino coloured sauce and give bursts of heat which pair amazingly well with the umami of a well seared steak.

The sauce is relatively quick to make and can be made in the same pan as the one you cook your steak in. While your seared steak rests, simply sauté aromatics (shallot, garlic, herbs), add green peppercorns and deglaze with alcohol. Typically a peppercorn sauce uses Cognac or, cheaper brandy as a flavour booster but in this recipe, we’ve gone for Scottish whisky. The whisky imparts an incredible smokey flavour and a small amount of acidity which works so well in the rich sauce.

Steak peppercorn sauce

Beef or veal stock is then added and here, I’d recommend going with home made to get a real restaurant quality sauce. If you can’t make home made beef stock then you can always amp up store bought stock. By frying minced beef, shallots, garlic and mushrooms and then adding stock you can impart in even more flavour. Finally the sauce is finished with cream and butter to achieve a thick, luxurious texture.

What You’ll Need

The sauce is relatively simple but requires the proper, high quality ingredients. The first thing you’ll want is to get a thick, prime cut of beef:

sirloin steak

Here are the wet ingredients that you’ll need for the sauce:

sauce ingredients

And these are the base aromatics and herbs that you’ll need:

ingredients 2
  • Green Peppercorns: It’s important to get green peppercorns in brine – these are usually available in big supermarkets or in speciality markets. Green peppercorns jarred in brine are softer, milder and more aromatic compared to white or black peppercorns. You cannot use black peppercorns for this – it’ll be far too hot! If you can’t find green peppercorns I’d suggest instead making a Diane sauce.

  • Aromatics & herbs: Shallot and garlic are sweated off in butter to add some sweetness and extra flavour into the sauce. I also added a teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme but you can omit this.

  • Whisky: I use a Scottish whisky for this recipe – Torabhaig’s Special Reserve Batch Strength. It adds smokiness and a lovely acidity which cuts through the richness of this sauce. You can also use bourbon or cognac/brandy.

  • Stock: Home made, well reduced beef or veal stock should be used for the recipe. It makes all the difference as the gelatine will help keep the sauce nice and thick. If you use store bought stock, add beef and aromatics (see above) to amp up the flavour as well as powdered gelatine to add thickness.

Ingredient List

Makes enough for 4.

  • 1.2kg of thick cut steak (ribeye, sirloin, fillet, flank or bavette)
  • 300ml of well reduced beef or veal stock
  • 1 shallot, minced finely
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 35g of Green Peppercorns in brine
  • 50ml of Scottish whisky
  • 50ml of thick cream
  • 6 knobs of butter

How to Make Whisky Peppercorn Sauce

  1. Sear your thick cut steak on a high heat until a crust has formed, flipping frequently. Sear until the centre of the steak hits 30c. Add butter, crushed garlic and fresh thyme and baste for 1 min each side. Remove and rest for 7-8 minutes.

  2. Pour out butter and oil from the steak and add 2 knobs of butter to the pan along with the minced shallot and garlic and thyme. Sauté until the shallots are translucent and aromatic.

  3. Add the drained peppercorns and sauté for 10 seconds. Add the Whisky and boil off the alcohol. Add the beef/veal stock and reduce down until the sauce is thick and glossy.

  4. Finish by stirring in the cream and butter and emulsify into the sauce. Serve immediately.
steak whisky peppercorn sauce triple cooked chips

Can you use black peppercorns?

No, black peppercorns are far too hot and you’ll end up with one spicy sauce! You could season the sauce at the end with a bit of black pepper and omit the green peppercorns but this will closer to a steak diane sauce.

Can you use whisky in a peppercorn sauce?

Yes! Whisky is a great replacement to cognac or brand to this sauce. A good quality whisky pairs perfectly with a BBQ’d steak with its sweet smokey flavour. We use Torabhaig’s incredible Batch Strength single malt:

What alcohol can you use in peppercorn sauce?

Peppercorn sauce traditionally uses cognac or brandy, flamed or boiled and reduced until syrupy. You can use a splash of white wine to add acidity which is needed considering how rich this recipe is!

Whisky peppercorn sauce without cream?

A traditional peppercorn sauce uses a small amount of cream for thickness, richness and colour. If you want to omit cream, you’ll need to use well-reduced, home made beef stock to ensure that you have a thick sauce. You could also add a small amount of milk and more butter to achieve the same result.

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