1 pound, one-inch thick steaks (round steak or rump steak works well)
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup Cognac
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
salt to taste
Season steaks. Use a mortar and pestle to roughly grind the pepper - this takes about 2 minutes of grinding. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and using your fingers coat them with the ground pepper. Allow the steaks to come to room temperature - about 45 minutes.
Cook steaks. Warm a skillet on medium heat until it is heated through. Add the butter and olive oil. The butter should sizzle. When it has melted, add the steaks. Cook for 4 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for 4 more minutes on the other side. If you like very rare meat, decrease cooking time. If you like well done steak, eat something else. (Just kidding.) You can check the meat towards the end of cooking time, by slicing into it. Season the steaks with salt to your taste.
Make sauce. As soon as they are cooked as you like, remove the steaks from the pan and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm. Drain off the liquid from the pan and replace on heat. Immediately add the Cognac. Bring the Cognac to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to incorporate all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue boiling until the cognac is reduced by about half - about 2 minutes. Add the cream or half and half and bring just to a boil. You can also stir in juice from the meat that has been kept warm. Season to taste with salt.
Serve. Place the steaks on dinner plates, and pour sauce on top. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 to 4 servings (depends on how much you consider a serving).