Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

How to make a magic red wine sauce

I want to assure y’all that on the new blog, you’ll see fewer celebrity-snark posts, but I won’t abandon posts about food and wine, and some of the personal stuff (e.g., updates about my sister). You’ll still get Ruthie, and farmer’s markets, but probably a lot less Charles Nelson Reilly and Lindsay Lohan. Somehow, I’m going to have to stay out of the Prytania (that’s a “Confederacy of Dunces” joke, to the uninitiated).
Look, because I love you, I have to share something hugely important with you right this very second. We have a dear friend visiting us from Texas today, and I cooked dinner tonight for us. I made pan-fried New York strip steak in a marchand de vin sauce. I’d never made that sauce before, but the fact that it made us all levitate four inches above our seats guarantees that I’m going to make it again. You could serve me roast haunch of squeezil, and I’d devour it as long as marchand de vin sauce was on it. Man! This sauce was very simple, but unbelievably delicious. Seriously, this is one of those things you can make that offers rewards far in excess of the effort required to prepare it. You can do a much more complicated version of the sauce (for example), but the recipe I’m giving you below is super-simple and completely delicious.
Read below the jump for the recipe.


Choose your steaks, and salt and pepper them well. I told the butcher that I hated how I usually set the smoke detector off when I pan-fried steak at home. He suggested buying New York strips, and getting them cut length-wise. So you get two steaks out of one — and because they’re half as thick, they cook in much less time, with much less smoke. Sounded good to me; I struggle to eat a whole NY strip most nights anyway. As it turned out, this thickness of steak worked out very well, not only in terms of ease of preparation, but in that it was just enough for all of us.
Anyway, before you cook the steaks, start the sauce. Here’s what you’ll need to make enough sauce for a pound, pound and a half of steak.
1 cup dry red wine
1 minced shallot
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan, combine the wine and the shallots (N.B., I added chopped mushrooms to mine). Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, until the wine is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Remove from flame, let cool. Meantime, mix butter, lemon juice and parsley in a bowl. Combine the cooled wine-shallot mixture, along with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Put it to the side.
Now, in a black iron skillet or whichever pan you use to pan-fry meat, heat two teaspoons of olive oil until it’s close to smoking. Put the steaks in the pan and let them cook. The length of time depends on how rare you want your meat to be, and how thin the steaks are. I let the half-thick New York strips go for two, two and a half minutes on each side, and they came out medium. When done, remove steaks from pan, put on a dish. Pour off the fat from the pan, then pour in another 1/2 cup of dry red wine, and two tablespoons of water. Cook this over high heat, stirring to make sure the yummy bits from the bottom and sides of the pan are scraped up. Let this go until the wine has been reduced down to one tablespoon. Take it off the fire, let it cool slightly, then whisk in the marchand de vin butter. You’ll want to whisk this for a minute or so until the sauce emulsifies and get a bit thicker.
Put the steaks on a serving platter, or on individual plates, spoon the sauce over them, and settle down for bliss. Trust me on this. Single males seeking to impress dates, pay attention!

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posted July 19, 2010 at 8:02 am

Great to hear the lighter and human side of Rod won’t disappear on the new blog. Some of us thought they wouldn’t let you incorporate some of that at Templeton. But when they hired you, they hired an established brand as well as a person so makes sense that they wouldn’t demand that you shed all that. They would lose key parts of what makes you the person you are on the web. Some of us have worked in places where corporate image really rules and people have to adjust much more so than they expected when hired.
Hearing you say you’ll still write about wine and food and Ruthie at times makes me regret more than ever that all that changing work and family stuff is going to cut down on my surf ‘n comment time soon. Well, I should regain some freedom soon, maybe I’ll be able to join you all at the new blog then.

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posted July 19, 2010 at 8:16 am

Thanks for that recipe – I bet that a judicious amount of Dijon mustard added at the end might be a nice variation.

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posted July 19, 2010 at 9:18 am

Hmmm, sounds like a good simple pan sauce, but marchard de vin really needs that extra boost from demiglace. A half cup or so of a good commerical product would work.

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Lord Karth

posted July 19, 2010 at 9:39 am

No more Charles Nelson Reilly ??? I grew up watching him on all those MatchGame shows in the 70s. Always good for a laugh as I pored over my math homework.
One could even learn important Life Lessons from Mr. Reilly. Valuable things like: Don’t Wear Stupid-Looking Glasses On National TV, Never Embarrass Your Host and, most importantly, Polyester Suits Are NOT Good For You.
No More Charles ?? Say it ain’t so, Mr. Dreher ! Say it ain’t so !
Your servant,
Lord Karth

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posted July 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Damn, that’s a lot of butter.
I’m not really used to cooking with wine, but maybe I should start. (Though I don’t really eat steaks, so if you have some good white wine sauces for fish, I’d certainly be interested).
And I’ll miss the Miley Cyrus trainwreck posts, for one…:)

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James P.

posted July 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm

As the “dear friend from Texas” Rod and his dear family so lavishly and lovingly entertained this weekend, I should clarify that the levitation we experienced from the marchand de vin was due to sheer ecstasy derived from butter, wine, steak, and mushrooms and NOT due to another phenomenon associated with legumes and beer.

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posted July 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Rod –
You may already know this trick, but in case you don’t, try this the next time you’re going to do any pan frying.
It’s the best way to cook evenly and not have to worry about sticking, etc.

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Rawlins Gilliland

posted July 19, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Shoot me from Philly? Au contraire. I made this sauce recpe using olive oil instead of butter. Superb! (As an option, whisk in a little plain yogurt as one would cream.) “C’est la vie say the old folks…….”
1000 or bust!

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