So, is my current fascination for Chinese food subsiding? Well, probably not, but sometimes you just can’t beat a good steak, and this was definitely a very decent steak.
However, what I really wanted to write about was the sauce, which took longer to make than it took to cook the rest of the meal, but it more than paid off in terms of depth of flavour.
A good sauce adds depth to a meal and raises something enjoyable to the level of being something memorable. Red wine-based sauces work well with steaks, and the addition of mushrooms gives flavour and texture.
100ml white wine
100 ml red wine
A small handful of dried mushrooms, ideally cèpes, soaked in hot water
200ml beef stock
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of tomato purée
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper
a neutral oil, such as sunflower or grape seed oil
Sliced fresh mushrooms to finish off the sauce.
First, melt the butter in a saucepan with the oil, which stops it burning. Then soften the shallot and and garlic. Add the white wine and bring up the heat so that the wine reduces slightly. Add the soaked mushrooms with their soaking water, making sure that you don’t pour any gritty residue into the saucepan (dried mushrooms are always a bit gritty), together with the thyme and bay leaf. Bring the heat back up and add the beef stock. If your stock is already adequately seasoned with salt and pepper, fine, otherwise add a little salt and pepper at this stage.
Then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Then, using a sieve with a fine mesh, strain the liquid off into a jug until required. Discard the vegetables.
When you want to finish off your sauce fry the sliced mushrooms in a little butter and oil until soft and then pour in the red wine. Allow this to bubble and stir in the tomato purée. This helps give the sauce some sweetness and also helps with the colour. Add the mushroom stock base you made earlier and simmer until reduced to a nice consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the sauce seems a little thin, you can whisk in some beurre manié.
So, there it is. Your sauce should be rich and savoury, with depth and a good colour. It would be nice with all kinds of dishes, steak for sure, but also with rare roast beef, boeuf en croute or even with some roasted beef or veal kidneys.
Anyway, it worked brilliantly with the rib-eye steaks, which were griddled to medium rare and served with petits pois à la française and frites.
You need a full-bodied and mellow wine with a sauce as rich as this and, to my mind, nothing goes better with steak that claret, so look no further than Bordeaux for your wine and you won’t go far wrong. Of course, you could also drink a New World wine made with Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are the three main ones) or something from Spain or Portugal.