Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seared Steak With Pan Sauce

Let me tell you about a magical little thing called searing. You heat a little bit of oil on high heat until it starts smoking, then you place the meat in. Once you do this, the meat will stick to the pan. Just wait for it. Wait. When it's done searing on that side - and this is so magical, I want to kill myself - it will naturally "unstick" itself from the pan. It's the food's way of saying, "I'm ready for you to turn me. Please turn me. Please, will you? I love you."

If that's not enough, there's another magical something called a pan sauce. When meat is done cooking, it needs to rest to allow the juices to redistribute, otherwise the moisture will just run out of it when you cut through it. This resting time is the perfect amount of time to make a sauce in the pan the meat just cooked in, and guess what? After searing the meat, some brown bits of caramelized meat - called fond - remain stuck to the pan. When you turn the heat up to high and throw a healthy portion of red wine into the pan, the brown bits will allow themselves to absorb into the sauce. All you have to do is scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and the sauce has now become an obvious compliment to the meat. Sauce, meet steak.

A few things about searing, however: The meat must be completely and totally dry. Find a cut of meat that you can get by without a marinade with. Next, the oil must be incredibly hot. Olive oil has a wonderful flavor, but will not get hot enough before it starts smoking. I suggest to mix it with canola oil for searing, because canola oil will get much hotter before it starts to smoke. Lastly, when you set the meat in the pan, you must commit to it being there. Don't try to move or touch it until it lets you know that it's done. If you like your steak medium or well-done, place the pan in a preheated oven to finish cooking.


4 (1) inch thick bone-in rib steaks or boneless rib-eye steaks
1 Tbsp. blended oil - 1/2 olive oil, 1/2 canola oil (you may use just canola oil, but do not use just olive oil)
1/2 Pound cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
1 shallot, minced
1 Clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp. sage, minced
1/2 Tbsp flour, more if needed
1 1/2 Cups dry red wine
1 Cup beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. chilled butter


Allow the steak to come to room temperature.

On the fat side of the meat, cut two slits through the fat about an inch apart to prevent the meat from curling in the pan. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Heat a 12-inch stainless steel skillet (do not use cast iron as it will react and be ruined by the acidity of the red wine, and do not use non-stick as the steak won't produce any fond for your sauce) over high heat until incredibly hot. Pour the oil in and shake the pan gently to distribute evenly over the bottom of the pan. When the oil starts exuding smoke, place the steaks in but do not allow the steaks to touch - otherwise they will just steam. Allow to cook without disturbing for about 3-4 minutes until the steak naturally "unsticks" itself from the pan. Flip the steaks. They should be incredibly brown and caramelized and delicious looking. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Allow to rest.

While resting, throw the mushrooms in and allow them to boil in the liquid they exude. Once their liquid has evaporated, pour a little oil into the pan and add the shallots, garlic, and sage. Cook for about 45 seconds longer until fragrant. Add the flour and a little more oil if needed. Stir together to incorporate. Allow to cook for about a minute to rid the flour of its raw taste. Add the wine and de-glaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan. Reduce to about half and add the beef stock. Boil quickly and reduce until thick. Season with salt and pepper. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and pour over the steaks.

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