This creamy pepper pasta with steak strips is the ultimate comfort food recipe. Tender strips of beef cooked together with mushroom, red onion, cream and peppercorns to make a delicious sauce. It is so easy to make and comes together in under 20 minutes. You can use a cheaper cut of beef, such as flank or skirt steak, making it the perfect cost effective mid week meal. Plus it is so simple to adapt if you want to swap out the mushrooms and add in some bell peppers or broccoli.
Although this recipe is called Creamy Pepper Pasta with Steak Strips, you don’t need to use an expensive cut of steak. Here a skirt steak or flank steak is perfect. Plus the recipe serves 4 people generously and you only need 12oz of meat!
How to get tender meat when cooking skirt/flank steak
The key to having tender juicy steak is to cook it briefly and then cut it correctly.
The steak in this recipe is cooked as one piece to help keep it juicy. It needs just 2 minutes on each side. It then sits resting whilst the rest of the dish comes together. A final toss in the hot sauces keeps it hot.
But the story doesn’t end there. Once the whole steak has been seared and rested, how you cut it can have a big effect! You want to cut against the grain of the meat. This ensures that the fibers in the meat are short, meaning when you chew it, the meat just melts in your mouth.
The fibers in flank and skirt steak are quite easy to see. The picture below shows raw flank steak, but they are just as visible once the steak is cooked.
Which pasta shape to use for this Pasta with Steak Strips
I find that when I have chunks of meat in a creamy sauce I want a pasta shape that matches the size of the meat. This is why I would always choose something like a rigatoni or a penne rather than a small shape like macaroni.
You could definitely use a long pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle.
Why do the instructions say to reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water?
This is a trick I learnt years ago from an Italian chef (Jamie Oliver is also a big fan of this!). By adding some of the pasta cooking water to the sauce, it makes the cream go further (so less calories) plus the starch in the water helps to thicken the sauce so it becomes silky and coats every piece of pasta evenly. WINNER!!!
To do this I just grab a measuring cup and scoop out some water before I drain it. This is so much easier than trying to catch the draining water back into the pan.
What are green peppercorns in brine?
The recipe calls for green peppercorns in brine. But don’t worry if you can’t find them or don’t have any you can just leave them out. They are relatively cheap to buy (around $2) and they will last you for ages in the refrigerator. You find them in most grocery stores and they will be near the pickles and olives.
To use then scoop out the peppercorns and leave the brine behind.
They have a warm pepper flavor but not as much spice as black peppercorns.
We don’t like our food spicy, can I leave out the pepper altogether?
You sure can, the cream sauce is delicious without the pepper and peppercorns. I would still add a little pinch of black pepper to just balance the sweetness of the cream.
Serving Suggestions for this pasta with steak strips:
Side: To complement this rich creamy pasta serve with a side of toasted ciabatta, perfect for mopping up any leftover peppercorn sauce.
Wine: This beefy, peppery and creamy sauce really demands an un-oaked medium-bodied red. Avoid the heavier richer red wines as they will compete with the peppercorns. A Malbec or Grenache would be perfect.
For white wine drinkers go for a full-bodied white wine like an un-oaked Chardonnay. Or bring in the bubbles and pair this with a sparkling wine.
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For other delicious pasta recipes why not try these:
- Garlic Chicken Pasta
- Black Truffle Pasta
- Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Garlic Pasta
- Creamy Rosemary Chicken Pasta
- Vegetarian creamy herb pasta
- Pork Stroganoff with Buttered Noodles
- Creamy Saffron and Prawn Pasta
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Creamy Pepper Pasta with Steak Strips
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 oz skirt/flank steak
- 1 red onion
- 12 oz rigatoni
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp green peppercorns in brine
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Place a heavy based skillet over a high heat and leave it to get hot.
- Season the steak with salt and rub with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Add the steak to the hot skillet and sear for 2 minutes on one side before turning and searing for 2 minutes on the other side.
- Remove the steak from the pan and set aside tented with foil.
- Chop the red onion into a small dice and add it to the skillet along with the remaining oil. Cook over a low heat whilst move to the pasta.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then salt generously and add the pasta. Cook until al-dente (usually a minute less than the packet suggests) Set a timer and whilst the pasta is cooking finish the sauce.
- Increase the heat under your onion skillet, add the butter and sliced mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have turned golden.
- Add the white wine, stirring well and scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan into the wine.
- Once the wine has reduced by half add the beef broth, cracked black pepper, green peppercorns, crushed garlic clove, mustard and heavy cream . Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low.
- Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the sauce along with 1/4 cup of the cooking water, place back on a medium/low heat and stir to combine.
- Thinly slice the steak across the grain and then add it to the skillet along with any meat juices that have collected on the plate.
- If needed add a little more pasta cooking water to thin your sauce, stir well and serve immediately with a parsley garnish.
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