Steak in Red Wine Sauce

Red wine, Worcestershire, Dijon, garlic, steakNeed I say more? This marinade-turned-sauce couldn’t be easier to prepare and it’s so delicious, you’ll find yourself wanting to lick the plate clean. This dish is quick, easy, hearty, and yet so elegant at the same time. Make it on a weeknight with mashed potatoes or a weekend with crisp oven baked fries; you won’t regret it.


THE RECIPE


Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Hanger Steak with Red Wine Marinade-Turned Sauce

Don’t forget to check out my Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions at the bottom of the recipe.

Ingredients

Marinade/Sauce

  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for grilling
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

Steak

  • 2 lbs hanger steak (or your choice of steak)
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Directions

Marinate the steak…

I consider marinating completely optional and often don’t bother. If you like, just turn the ingredients into sauce. If you do want to marinate, though:

  1. In a large Ziploc bag or baking dish large enough to hold the steak in one layer, combine all the marinade/sauce ingredients except the garlic, and whisk to combine.
  2. Rub the steaks with the smashed garlic.
  3. Add the garlic to the marinade.
  4. Add the steak to the marinade, turning to coat completely.
  5. Close the bag or cover the dish and chill for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, turning the meat occasionally so it marinates evenly.

Bring steak to room temperature before cooking…

  1. About half an hour before cooking, remove the steak from the marinade (if used) or refrigerator.
  2. Pat it dry (regardless of whether it was marinated).
  3. Generously sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. Allow the steak to come to room temperature, about half an hour.

Cook the sauce while the steak comes to temperature…

Optionally, you could cook the steak first, set it aside to rest, and cook the sauce in the pan used for the steak. See how in “Optional Pan Deglaze” under my Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions.

  1. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and lightly boil, stirring frequently, until reduced and thickened to a pourable sauce that just coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  4. Set sauce aside.

Cook the steak…

  1. Once the steak is room temperature, brush the steak or a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) with a light coating of vegetable oil and put the skillet over high heat.
  2. Just when it starts to smoke, add the steak.
    • If your pan isn’t big enough for all the steak, cook it in batches, otherwise it’ll steam.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes.
    • Keep an eye on the steak and turn the heat lower, if necessary, so that it doesn’t burn.
  4. Flip the steak and cook about another five minutes for medium-rare or eight minutes for medium.
  5. Transfer the finished steak to a cutting board and allow to rest for five minutes before serving.

Serve…

  1. Plate the steaks.
  2. Remove the garlic cloves from the sauce.
  3. Pour the delectable sauce all over the steak in as great a quantity as you like 😉

Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions

Red Wine: As always, the most important thing is that it’s a good quality wine, ensuring the sauce tastes good. A dry wine would be most appropriate, but use whatever you like or have on hand.

Dijon Mustard: Obviously all mustards are different, but if you don’t happen to have Dijon on hand, feel free to replace with any mustard. The flavor of the sauce will change, but it’ll still be delicious.

Steak: What cut you choose and how thick it is will determine how you cook it (as well as how well you like your steak done!). No matter what you get, though, cook at a high heat, just altering the cooking time for your preference of doneness. If you use a really, really thick cut like filet mignon, though, you’ll likely have to finish it off in the oven to keep it from being wildly rare.

If you’re not a steak fan or prefer something less expensive, feel free to use this sauce on any kind of meat! Sure, these ingredients go particularly well with steak, but that doesn’t mean they don’t taste good with other cuts of beef or other meats. You could cook a less expensive roast of beef (long and slow), use the sauce to top meatloaf, or if you still want to cut down on time, make chicken cutlets and consider switching to white wine. I bet it’s delicious 😉

Vegetable Oil: This is for lightly coating the pan to cook the steak. Vegetable oil has a high burning point, so it’s the most appropriate to use for cooking steak. Olive oil doesn’t have as high a burning point, so the oil, itself, could burn at this high a heat, which is why I’d recommend against using it instead of vegetable oil despite the fact that I use it for most pan sautes.

Turning Marinade into Sauce: I know some people are really iffy about this because the marinade is filled with meat bacteria. But let’s get a little logical here. The meat is also filled with raw meat bacteria, but when you cook the raw meat, you get rid of the bacteria and it becomes safe for you to eat. Why would it be any different for a marinade? If you braise meat, you’re cooking it in a liquid–a liquid that’s filled with raw meat bacteria since there’s raw meat sitting in it cooking. It’s safe to eat the sauce that results from braising, so why wouldn’t it be safe to cook a marinade into a sauce and eat it?

The fact is, it’s perfectly safe as long as you take the right precautions. Don’t allow the marinade to sit around at room temperature after the meat’s been taken out of it–the bacteria will just grow. I like to immediately boil my marinade into a sauce. Otherwise, put it back in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it and, remember, it only lasts in the fridge as long as the raw meat would have lasted in the fridge.

Also, make sure to bring the marinade to a full rolling boil, which ensures it’s gotten as hot as possible. Then, cook for several minutes at a normal boil (even a low boil) to ensure the bacteria has been killed–this also allows your sauce to reduce and thicken. Just pay attention to make sure it isn’t reducing too much.

Full Rolling Boil: This means that a liquid continues to boil even when you stir it.

Cooking Steak: Always dry the steak well because it will brown better and form a beautiful, delicious crust. Moisture on the steak will create steam and inhibit the browning process. It’ll still be delicious, but it won’t be quite the same.

Cook a room temperature steak because, if a steak is cold when it hits the pan, it’ll cook unevenly. The outside will heat up much faster than the inside, so that will begin to become overdone before the inside hits the right temperature. A room temperature cut of meat will heat and cook evenly throughout. That being said, don’t worry about it if you forgot to take the steak out and need to cook it right away, especially if it’s a thinner cut. I’ve done this on plenty occasions with little to no problem because I usually use 1/2 to 1-inch steaks. The thicker the cut, the more you need to worry about this.

Optional Pan Deglaze: If you’d like to save yourself an extra pot (or add a little extra beef flavor to the sauce), don’t cook the sauce until after the steak is finished. Once you remove the cooked steak to a cutting board to rest, add the sauce ingredients to the pan, scraping the bottom to grab all those delicious cooked-on brown bits from the steak, and boil it for several minutes to reduce and thicken (and kill bacteria if you used it as a marinade). Once the sauce is finished, add the steak back to the pan to gently rewarm it in the sauce before serving.


THE STORY


I am exhausted…ALL…THE TIME. As most know by now, I’m nearly fourteen weeks pregnant and though I have had no symptoms whatsoever (no morning sickness, no mood swings, no cravings, no increased appetite–though mine was large enough as it is–no real weight gain yet!) I am far, far beyond fatigued during all hours of the day. Being awake is exhausting! Apparently even a peach-sized baby can tire you out.

Add to that the fact that it’s winter in Michigan–the most glorious season of all! (Sarcasm). It’s cold…it’s dreary (though I do enjoy dreary, seriously this time)…and it’s dark by five o’clock, which means it feels like bedtime, not dinner time. I get home from nine hours at the office and do not feel energized enough to cook. Not only am I tired from work, my twenty minute drive, and the increasing darkness, but I’m tired because I’m starving–it’s a neverending cycle and always has been. When I get too hungry, I get tired, which means I don’t want to cook, which means I don’t get to eat…which leaves me hungry…and tired! And crabby 😉 This is pre-pregnancy too, so imagine how bad it is now.

So, I’ve had to come up with a solution. Today starts my new routine of making loads of leftovers that can easily be reheated and of resorting to delicious quick-cooking meals, which brings us to STEAK. Sweet, juicy, tender, quick-cooking steak 🙂

Growing up, I loathed steak. I really am not a beef eater (I think hamburgers are so unappetizing unless made with turkey–and even then, only homemade because restaurants just don’t do it right!) and I especially wasn’t as a child. My mom had to cook multiple meals because my brother and I were so picky. I definitely was not ever going to touch beef of any kind–not even meatloaf covered in ketchup.

A few years ago, though, I finally grew up and decided it was up to me to break my terrible habit and start trying foods that I used to hate and may love now. Enter steak. I love it!! B and I keep a decent set of steaks in the freezer (along with loads of chicken), but my problem (our problem, really) is that I can’t ever remember to take one out to defrost. So, I come home from work and there’s no fresh meat to cook. I’m not about to put something frozen in the oven; I just think that’s a sin…so we have to deal somehow by either eating pasta or sandwiches…or ordering out (gasp!).

Today was like any other day–no thoughts of taking out meat before work (or last night, which would have been better). I knew that I wanted to hit up Whole Foods after work so I could pick up a chicken (we only have two drumsticks and a load of wings left), but my intention for that was to either poach it whole or roast it (to have plenty of leftovers for situations just like this!).

While at the store, I noticed a beautiful section of perfectly crimson, on-sale beef. Most cuts were geared toward slow roasting, but two were perfectly fine for a quick meal (as I discovered by phoning my mom, hehe)–exactly what I needed as I was more hungry than usual! So hungry, in fact, I resorted to devouring an overly sweet Zimmerman’s candy bar in the car along with a couple huge squares of super dark chocolate filled with salted caramel (I am not a candy eater, but I was desperate!).

I decided to go with the sirloin tip steaks as they were less than half the price of the New York Strip (and these are already expensive because they’re organic). This was incredibly, incredibly exciting.  The first thing I did after getting out of the store was text B. to let him know I picked up some meat and he’d have to start the potatoes while I drove home. It was perfect timing! He could get the potatoes going the entire time I was on the road. Then, when I arrived home, it would only be a matter of minutes before dinner was finished. These are some of my favorite meals. I mean, steak is incredible, so of course that’s an automatic fave, but it’s really an indulgent meal for me because we don’t eat it often. So not only is it super fast, but a real treat.

Steak Diane. A previous meal because I was too hungry to take time to photograph this one 🙂

The point of this entry is to appeal to those of you who don’t like to cook or don’t have time to cook. Yes, steak is a little more expensive than chicken, but it’s fast and you can likely afford to eat it (especially non-organic) at least once a week!

If you don’t want to wait for a side to cook, think about leftovers. I always try to cook more than I need because then that’s less for me to cook later in the week. Last night, B helped make some mashed potatoes and we purposely made enough so that there’s a second meal’s worth. So, if B weren’t going to be home before I was tonight, we could have easily reheated the mashed potatoes to go with the steak. Beyond that, you could always just put a snack with it–grab some bread, top it with a little oil, some herbs, maybe a little cheese (and pop it in the oven to toast up while the cheese gets melty) and you have an instant side of crostini–or just have steak and chips!

Either way, when you’re in a hurry, remember that you can have the most delicious dinner in ten minutes or less. For a little inspiration, I’ve included a steak recipe with a marinade/sauce because I think making your own will not only help you feel accomplished but taste a whole lot better than anything you find in a bottle! And it requires barely any extra effort or time, I promise.

This was my very first steak, cooked using a recipe in Mad Hungry, one of my many go-to cookbooks. Though the recipe was for hanger steak, I used rib-eye, which my mom recommended as the most tender cut (next to a filet mignon)–she was right, by the way. After eating a sirloin tip tonight, I can definitely tell the difference. Anyway, the original recipe simply has you marinate the steak and grill it. I, however, wanted more 🙂

So, while the steak cooked on the grill, I boiled the marinade to turn it into a sauce. I know…everyone says never to use a marinade as a sauce once it’s come in contact with raw meat, but that’s only if you don’t cook it properly! Once the liquid has reached a certain temperature, the bacteria is gone, just like when you cook meat. I have to say, the sauce that this created was the best thing I’ve ever eaten–I think it was the best thing B. has ever eaten, as well. No sauce since then has compared, though most have been on-the-fly pan deglazes of beef stock, wine, and random items such as mustard or Worcestershire sauce. This is much better…much.

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