It’s No Secret
These signature sauces enhance steaks
No self-respecting gourmand is going to top filet mignon with a bottled steak sauce. But, a signature sauce prepared by your chef—now that’s a sauce worthy of consideration. A well-made sauce can be a tremendous enhancement to steak, adding an extra dimension of flavor, texture and color to the meal.
A sauce can be simple and straightforward, or tricky and temperamental. Once the techniques are mastered, however, these savory gravies will be an important element of your steak secrets. Sauces can augment an operation’s signature appeal tremendously, whether adding French flair or a trendy edge.
Let’s check in at several outstanding steakhouses to see who’s getting saucy.
- At Kayne Prime Steakhouse in Nashville, the menu listing just under the steak selection is called “Signature Chapeaux.” Here are the coverings that top off the steaks to a tee, each listed with an upcharge. truffle béarnaise; tamari bordelaise, creamy anticucho; yuzu chimichurri; foie gras; blue cheese butter; bone marrow butter and truffle butter. There's also a trio, quartet or quintet of sauces.
- At Charlie Palmer Steak in New York, the wagyu and Kobe beef are complemented with these sauces: béarnaise, red wine shallot, green peppercorn, horseradish cream, dijon mustard and the signature house blend, CP Steakhouse Sauce.
- Ruth’s Chris offers a trio of sauces for its prized steaks, including black truffle butter, shiitake demi-glace and honey soy sauce.
- The oldest (established in 1941) and what many believe to be the finest steakhouse in Chicago, Gene & Georgetti, features ala carte steak sauces for a nominal extra fee. These include béarnaise, red wine reduction, peppercorn and dijon demi-glace.
In the old days, French chefs had the corner on sauce. While traditional béarnaise is still ubiquitous, today’s innovative chefs are jazzing up steaks and stirring palates with new trends. Here are a few of the special sauces—old and new—that will truly enhance your steak offerings:
This classic French sauce is the classic pairing for steak. Related to Hollandaise, it’s made with eggs and butter, and flavored with wine, shallots, tarragon, salt and pepper. A great béarnaise is a show-stopper.
Another French creation perfect for pairing with steak, it originated in Bordeaux. It is a red wine and demi-glace reduction, with shallots, thyme, peppercorns and butter. The original version incorporated bone marrow.
This zippy dip has great affinity with prime rib and other cuts. Its zip comes from horseradish, mustard and vinegar, which are whisked into a roux-based white sauce. Heavy cream is often added for richness.
Blue cheese and its cousin, gorgonzola, have tremendous affinity with steak. For a simple enhancement, just sprinkle cheese crumbles atop steak after cooking. The cheese will melt slightly and add bold, sensual flavor. Or, blend the cheese into a white sauce for creamy, pourable consistency.
The roast beef itself helps make this simple sauce. While the meat rests after roasting, skim fat from the pan juices, which are then augmented with beef broth.
After sautéing steaks seasoned with peppercorns, the pan is de-glazed with brandy or cognac and demi-glace or beef broth is added to increase volume. Heavy cream and butter are employed for enrichment.
Originating in Argentina, this green sauce is made from parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano and white vinegar. Lots of variations have morphed from this basic recipe, with different herbs and spices and red pepper flakes added for flavor nuance.
The earthy taste of mushrooms marries perfectly with steak. For this sauce, one or more mushroom varieties are sautéed in butter, along with garlic, salt and pepper. Some chefs opt to add heavy cream for additional richness.