Best Basic Steak Sauce Recipe

Apr 4, 2011 12:00 pm

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.

Homemade steak sauce
Photo: stu_spivack on Flickr
Better than anything in a bottle
Servings: 1 cup


1 slice ham
1/3 cup carrots, chopped
1/3 cup onions, chopped
6 tablespoons clarified butter
4 tablespoons flour
6 cups beef stock
7 shallots
1 bottle red wine

In pot one, start the brown sauce:

  1. Chop one slice of ham and 1/3 cup each carrots, onions, and celery.
  2. 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).
  3. Stir in four tablespoons flour
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes
  5. 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.
  6. Optional: add a bay leaf and a sprig of rosemary and/or thyme.
  7. Simmer, partially covered, for two hours.

Pot two, wine reduction (begin after pot one has simmered for an hour):

  1. Chop seven shallots
  2. Add one bottle of red wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. Boil down to about two tablespoons of wine
  4. Pour into pot one and stir well
  5. Cook down for another 10 minutes
  6. Strain. (I just pour it all through a colander.)

Pour over whichever cut of beef you've cooked up!

Level of Difficulty: 
Prep Time: 
15 minutes
Cooking Time: 
2 hours
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