Put down that bottle of A1 or whatever brand of brown sauce you usually put on your steak. There are so many other sauces that pair beautifully with a perfectly cooked steak that adds to the flavor and doesn’t compete with it.
The acidity in those steak sauces mask the flavor of the beef and end up covering up the wonderful beef flavor.
Instead, try making a sauce that marries well with the flavor of the meat instead of covering it up. Many sauces can be made in minutes that end up adding to the enjoyment of a classic cut of steak.
Simple pan sauce
The easiest way to take your steak to another level is to make a quick pan sauce from the drippings after the steak has cooked. If you seared a well-marbled steak like a Wagyu porterhouse, then you can create a rich sauce that pairs perfectly with the meat.
After you’ve cooked your steak in the pan, sautee some finely chopped shallots in the fat from the steak. Once it is cooked, then add some acidic white wine to deglaze the pan. This will literally create a sauce from the brown bits on the bottom of the pan from the meat. Let it reduce to almost a syrup and turn the heat off. Drop a few knobs of butter into the pan and stir it in quickly to create an emulsion.
The acidity from the wine plus the richness of the fat of the meat makes the ideal sauce that pairs perfectly with the meat. And the best part is that it only takes a few minutes. Which is the time it takes to let the meat rest before you cut into it anyway.
You can amp up the pan sauce with a few additions to make it as elegant as a steak house dish that you would pay quite a bit of money for. All you need to do is follow the pan sauce recipe above but leave out the shallots. Instead, add some green peppercorns from a jar that are sort of pickled.
The acidity from them will cut through the richness as you will also add some heavy cream off the heat instead of the butter. Which it up and serve it directly over the steak.
A bearnaise sauce is a lot more complicated than a pan sauce and likely will take some practice to get right. When you do get it right, it is a decadent addition to any steak and elevates it from simple to sublime.
It is basically a hollandaise sauce made with clarified butter and egg yolks that get emulsified into a sauce. It has a little bit of vinegar and mustard to give it a touch of acidity that counteracts the richness of the butter, egg yolks and fat from the meat.
It does take the right touch, however. You’ll need a double boiler with a bowl over a pot of almost boiling water. To which you will whisk egg yolks with vinegar and mustard while drizzling small amounts of clarified butter. Once the sauce thickens and comes together, then take it off of the boiler and add fresh parsley and tarragon.