To sauce or not to sauce?
A really good quality steak, properly cooked, should stand by itself. A nice Akaushi or Black Angus filet mignon really needs nothing more than a little ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Get a nice char on the grill and finish it in the oven with a pat of butter melted on top and you’re good to go.
But sometimes you might like to try a little sauce (no, not A1 sauce, or anything store bought). You can really make almost any kind of sauce for a steak, from cheese to booze, right at home. There used to be a cafe in Alamo Heights in San Antonio that served an appetizer of tenderloin chunks topped with chili con queso that was delectable. Although I have yet to find that on any other menu I do occasionally make it at home, because cheese and steak pair rather well together.
Sometimes a naked steak is just fine, but sometimes it’s fun to make a topping for a great cut of beef .
For a less Mex cheesy steak, try a sauce of blue cheese. It’s easy enough to crumble some blue cheese into a small saucepan, warm over a medium heat and add garlic or onions, milk and/or butter, maybe a splash of hot sauce and stir for a couple of minutes. Then pour over your steak for a cheesy meaty delight.
And Smith & Wollensky has a trio of tenderloins with different toppings one of which is a Gorgonzola crust that is wonderful. I have yet to try to recreate this at home but it looks pretty simple.
Not a cheese fan? You can also make a French cognac cream sauce that goes well atop steaks. It’s a simple sauce made with cognac, crème fraîche, beef stock and black pepper. Or if you’re feeling really French, go with a Béarnaise sauce. Here’s a good recipe from the Food Network’s Ina Garten.
And while you might think of horseradish sauce as something for the prime rib roast on the Sunday brunch carvery table, it’s actually quite good on any type of steak, even a nice filet mignon. And, according to Web MD, horseradish roots have medicinal benefits as well.
One of my favorite cookbooks, The Gourmet Cookbook Volume 1 (I love old cookbooks and this two volume set is one of the best) from 1950, has a lovely recipe for this sauce based on a basic béchamel sauce, one of the mother sauces of France. There’s a pretty easy recipe here by William Sonoma.
So The Gourmet Cookbook horseradish cream sauce recipe is simple: To one cup béchamel sauce add one tablespoon of well-drained prepared horseradish and a tiny dash of mustard. Serve with corned beef, boiled beef or boiled lamb. (Or a filet mignon.)
I usually wimp out and buy a jar of horseradish but you can also grate fresh horseradish root (about 1/4 cup). And if you don’t want to make béchamel sauce from scratch you can make do with a sauce of horseradish, sour cream, a dash of white wine, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
So sometimes a naked steak is just fine, but sometimes it’s fun to make a topping for a great cut of beef.