Sunday, March 29, 2015

Steak Marchand de Vin

French cooks believe that good meat deserves a sauce.  These words were written by Anne Willan, the author of one of my favorite French cookbooks, The Country Cooking of France.  Anne Willan is a member of the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame.  She received that honor for her cookbooks, which have focused on French Cuisine.  She wrote those books with the goal of helping home cooks, like myself, learn the techniques and recipes used by French cooks and chefs.

One of these recipes is called "Steak Marchand de Vin," also known as "Winemaker's Steak."  A "Marchand de Vin," is a quick jus or sauce made with wine and fresh herbs.  In this case, the sauce is made after pan frying a steak.  Willan says that any cut of steak can be used in this recipe, from a filet to T-bone or entrecote.  With all of the fond in the pan, a cook uses wine to deglaze the pan and incorporate those flavors into what becomes the sauce.   As the wine reduces, with the alcohol evaporating, along with some of the liquid, the pan is removed from the heat and fresh herbs are added.  The end result is a very simple sauce that is full of flavor.

One last note, as any chef or cook will tell you, you cook with a wine you want to drink.  For this recipe, I used a Saumur Champigny, a wine from the Loire region of France.  The wine worked very well with this recipe, because of its ripe cherry and cranberry elements.  If you can't find that wine, look for a Côtes du Rhône or another red wine from France, especially if you want to keep with the French inspiration.   If you are looking for other inspirations, many consider a Carmenere from Chile.  Those wines often have a spice or pepper element to them that could provide another layer of flavor to the sauce.

Recipe from Anne Willan, The Country Cooking of France, p. 135
Serves 4

4 steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons of butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup of full bodied red wine
Leaves from 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped
3 to 4 fresh chives blades, chopped
3 or 4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped

1.  Brown the steaks.  Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper.  Melt half of the butter in a frying pan over high heat until it stops foaming.  Add the steaks and fry until well browned 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn them, lower the heat slightly, and continue frying until brown and cooked to your taste, 2 to 3 minutes for rare steak, 3 to 5 minutes if you prefer it more done.  Lift out the steaks and set on warmed plates, keep warm.

2.  Make the wine sauce.  Pour all of 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and return to high heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the wine and boil rapidly until reduced by half.  Take from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter in small pieces.  Stir in the herbs, taste, and adjust the heat.  Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve at once.



Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

Hello Chef Bolek,

I just clicked "next blog" from my blog homepage and I am so glad I did! I've only reviewed a few of your recipes but am eager to read and try more.
I am one of those who thinks about food, reads about food, grows and preserves my own food, loves to cook and I especially love to eat good food.
Although I am just a simple southern country cook, I look forward to the many new culinary lessons your blog has to offer.


Keith Bolek said...

Thank you very much for the kind comments. I am glad you took the time to read my blog.

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