2 shallots ( or half a small mild red onion) very finely chopped or minced.
50g unsalted butter
50 ml brandy
50ml red wine
100ml beef stock
2 to 3 tablespoons of black peppercorns (cracked)
60ml double cream
Seasoning to taste.
Crack the peppercorns coarsely. If using a mortar and pestle take care not to turn into powder! The peppercorns can also be cracked by placing them in a freezer bag or clingfilm and hitting them with a rolling pin or meat tenderiser. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the shallot, cook gently on a low heat until soft and translucent, do not let the shallot/onion turn brown. (Around 3 to 5 minutes depending on how finely they’ve been chopped). Add the wine and brandy, increase the heat and bring to the boil for 3 minutes to evaporate the alcohol and to reduce the overall quantity of liquid slightly.
Then add the stock and peppercorns, stir and bring back to boiling for a further three minutes. Reduce the heat and add the cream, stir until thickened but do not allow to boil as your sauce will split1. Taste and add seasoning if necessary.
Serve with your favourite steak, garlic and rosemary potatoes and crusty bread.
Not a steak fan?
Try substituting white wine (for the red and brandy) and chicken stock for beef, add a few sliced mushrooms or celery and serve with chicken or turkey. A teaspoon of mustard, a splash of Worcester sauce2 and a cider based stock goes very well with pork or how about whisky and red wine with venison or haggis for Burns Night?
For the more health conscious, substitute creme fraiche for double cream, or avoid the butter, make with half milk /stock and thicken with cornflour.
The sauce can be made ahead of time and gently reheated but is best eaten on the same day.