Whether you enjoy your steak grilled with a simple salt and pepper seasoning, or whether you are the more indulgent type (think lashings of your favourite steak sauce), there’s no disputing that a rich and flavoursome sauce marries beautifully with a juicy cut of perfectly-cooked steak.
Many of the most popular steak sauces find their origins in French cuisine – each with a well-balanced portion of wine or cognac for an added richness of flavour. Choose from your favourite cut of our grass-fed beef, grill to your liking, then use the pan juices as a base for your delicious sauce. Voilà!
Tips for the Best Steak Sauce
Most great cooks will say that utilising the pan juices is essential to a truly great sauce. Adding a little delicious fat and a touch of smokiness, we whole-heartedly believe that pan juices (or dripping) contribute the flavour components that set a great sauce apart from a good one.
With this golden rule up your sleeve, the following tips may also be helpful to ensure that your sauce turns out exactly as you had planned;
- If your sauce has a cream component, be sure to turn the temperature down before adding this to the pan. If the cream is allowed to boil it will often curdle and the fats will seperate, leaving you with an oily sauce. Bringing the cream to room temperature before adding to the sauce can also assist to avoid this happening.
- It’s advisable to use the best beef stock possible – we always use Provenir’s Best Broth bone broth in place of stock for an extra flavour and added health benefit boost.
- Don’t waste your leftover sauces! Most types of steak sauce freeze perfectly, meaning that you can defrost the leftover portions and then gently heat in a saucepan to serve at a later time.
Three Delicious Traditional Steak Sauce Recipes To Try
A stalwort of most Aussie pub steak menus, the faithful peppercorn sauce is a delicious gravy variation that adds a touch of peppery excitement and rich creaminess to your meal. Toasting the peppercorns before grinding gives this sauce an extra edge.
Follow the recipe below to prepare our Peppercorn Steak sauce.
- Preparation: 5 min
- Cooking: 15 min
- Ready in: 20 min
- Before starting to cook the meat, we highly recommend that you take a minute to toast the whole peppercorns. It will enhance the taste and aroma!
- Preheat a dry cooking pan that you will use to cook meat and sauce over medium heat.
- Add peppercorns and toast them for a few minutes until starts to lightly smoke and give out pleasant aroma. Make sure to gently shake the pan as peppercorns cook so they mix and don't burn.
- Transfer toasted peppercorns into a pepper grinder and grind them on a coarse setting. Set it aside. (You will use 2-3 teaspoons, depending on how much spice you'd like in your sauce).
- Cook your favourite steaks to the temperature that you prefer and take them out of the pan. While the steaks are resting, prepare the sauce in the same pan! Make sure to use the same pan because so much flavour will come from the steak drippings left in the pan that will be incorporated into the sauce.
- After you take the steaks out, add minced shallot and sauté them over medium-high heat until softened and browned.
- Pour in cognac into the pan and let it simmer for about a minute.
- Pour in beef stock. Stir and let it simmer rapidly for up to 3 minutes, you're looking for the stock to reduce by about half.
- Turn the heat down to about medium (or lower), add 2 to 3 teaspoons of crushed black pepper that you have set aside, and pour in heavy whipping cream. Stir and let it gently simmer for another minute or so, until you notice that it's thickening. (When you run a spatula along the bottom of the pan, you'll notice that the sauce takes some time to spread back).
- Take the sauce out of the pan and pour over your steaks.
If you prefer to avoid using alcohol, use extra beef stock instead and add 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. If you can, reduce beef stock first for a deeper, richer flavour. To reduce beef stock, simply simmer 1 cup of stock until it has reduced to 1/4 cup.
If you would prefer to prepare the sauce without cooking the meat first, instead start with 2 tablespoons of butter melted in the pan and then add shallots. Proceed the same as the recipe above.
French Bordelaise Sauce
French bistros are arguably the home of many a great steak sauce. This recipe traditionally uses wine from the Bordeaux region of France, which is famous for its blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Consequently, a medium-rare steak and Bordelaise sauce is a perfect match a glass of full bodied red. As mentioned earlier, a good quality beef stock or bone broth will really make this sauce sing.
French Bordelaise Sauce
- Preparation: 5 min
- Cooking: 15 min
- Ready in: 20 min
- In a small saucepan, place the red wine, shallots, thyme and bay leaf and set over medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and continue to cook until the contents has reduced to half of the original volume.
- Add the beef stock to the pan and bring the mixture up to a boil again.
- Using a tablespoon, skim and discard any foam that appears on top of the sauce.
- Continue cooking the Bordelaise by another 50% or until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, otherwise known as having a nappe consistency. In total, the Bordelaise should have reduced by 75% of its original volume by now.
- Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Use on grilled steak or slow-roasted beef and enjoy!
If you want to thicken the Bordelaise sauce, prepare a beurre manie (translated to kneaded butter in English) with about 1 tablespoon of softened butter and 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Use your fingers or a fork to make a smooth paste. Place the strained sauce over medium-low heat. Add about 1 teaspoon of this mixture to the sauce and whisk for about 1 minute. Repeat until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
If you are holding the sauce for later, lightly rub about 1 teaspoon of cold butter across the hot surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Alternatively, lay a piece of greaseproof paper cut to the size of the pan onto the surface of the sauce. When ready to use, reheat it gently in a small saucepan.
Cooking with Wine
Cooking with wine sounds simple – add a splash of this and a splash of that, or a more decent pour if you’re so inclined. However, for a balanced sauce that isn’t too overpowering, it’s important to stick with the quantities recommended in the sauce recipe that you are following.
The most important tip for including wine in your sauces or dishes is to use good quality wine or cognac. Many chefs over the years have been quoted to say that if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it! A safe approach is to use a little of the wine that you plan to enjoy with your meal.
When it comes to red wine, something reasonably full-bodied such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon will produce the best results for red meat dishes. However, try to avoid a wine that has too much tannin.
It’s also recommended to use a fresh bottle of wine. While it’s not necessary to open a new bottle for each dish and it’s fine to use wine that has become a little oxidised, avoid wine that has been opened for more than two weeks. Using particularly old wine in your recipe may mean that some of the most typical spoiled wine flavours will appear in the dish.
A favourite for many years, Diane sauce is both luxurious and surprisingly simple to prepare. Key to the richness of this sauce is the addition of cognac, called brandy in its non-French iteration. While brandy may not be as commonplace as in years past, high-quality brandies can still be found in Australia. If in doubt, you can always opt for the French original – cognac.
Diane Steak Sauce
- Preparation: 2 min
- Cooking: 8 min
- Ready in: 10 min
- Add the butter and oil to a frying pan and heat over a medium heat.
- When the butter has melted, add the shallots, salt, pepper and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shallots are just starting to soften.
- Add the cognac to the pan, bubble for 1 minute, then add in the stock, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Stir in the cream (if you have any juices from resting your steak, add them to the pan now too). Bring back to a simmer, then turn off the heat.
- Serve over steak.
If you’ve just cooked steak to go with this sauce, use the oils/meat-drippings that are left in the pan instead if the oil and butter.
If you don’t want to use alcohol, leave out the cognac and add an extra teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.
Why include wine in sauce recipes?
In short, red wine and cognac work to add a delicious richness of flavour to sauces and meat dishes. The alcohol in wine works to cut through and dissolve fats, resulting in an added release of the flavour molecules within the meat and the dish. Key to this process is allowing the wine to cook off, thus reducing the alcohol content in the dish but capturing the wonderful flavour effect.
Although a more noticeable experience when drinking wine with a dish rather than cooking with it, tannins are also key to the experience of food and wine pairing. These textural components of a wine interact with proteins in the meat, making for a softer mouth experience. The final key component – acidity – also contributes to the palatability of fats in meat.