Best Basic Steak Sauce Recipe
It's time to think outside the bottle
Some say clothing makes the man. I say it’s his steak sauce.
There are two types of steak sauce: those that contrast with the meat’s flavor, and those that accentuate the meat’s flavor, somehow making it meatier, if you will. I prefer the latter. To this end, I've developed what I think is the best basic steak sauce recipe.
I took my inspiration from a wine reduction sauce recipe that I found in a 1997 Food & Wine magazine article. It involved boiling seven chopped shallots and a bottle's worth of Cabernet until there’s only about two tablespoons of liquid left; adding demi-glace; and boiling the mixture down to a cup. And voilà, steak sauce. Then, a friend lent me his grandmother’s copy of Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She had a recipe for fancy brown sauce that seemed like it might work to replace the demi-glace. Not only did it work, it became my go-to steak sauce.
The technique makes this more time-intensive, but it's the pot that’s doing most of the work. The sauce keeps in the fridge for a week, and it's perfect for sprucing up leftovers or adding depth to a burger. I also toss in a sprig of rosemary, and use the cheapest Cabernet I can find.
What's your steak sauce preference: Bottle or home-made? Tell us in the comments.
In pot one, start the brown sauce:
- Chop one slice of ham and 1/3 cup each carrots, onions, and celery.
- Cook the ham, carrots, onions, and celery in six tablespoons clarified butter for about 10 minutes. (Tip: to quickly clarify butter, heat six tablespoons in the microwave for 90 seconds and skim the white foam that forms on the surface).
- Stir in four tablespoons flour
- Cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes
- Pour in six cups boiling beef stock, blending with a whisk—this doesn’t need to be fancy stock, but it does need to be boiling. I usually just microwave this while cooking the vegetables.
- Optional: add a bay leaf and a sprig of rosemary and/or thyme.
- Simmer, partially covered, for two hours.
Pot two, wine reduction (begin after pot one has simmered for an hour):
- Chop seven shallots
- Add one bottle of red wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon
- Boil down to about two tablespoons of wine
- Pour into pot one and stir well
- Cook down for another 10 minutes
- Strain. (I just pour it all through a colander.)
Pour over whichever cut of beef you've cooked up!