Every cook should have a great steak topping in their repertoire. Either because you
A) enjoy having a sauce smothering your steak
B) want to to stretch out a piece of meat to feed the family or
C) attempt cover up a botched steak job. I’m in category A, especially if it involves heavy cream and whisky, but I’ve been known to practice C more often that I care to admit.
When my in-laws are in town, there’s always whiskey in the house. It makes for a more pleasant stay. But your in-laws might prefer bourbon, white wine or other such happy-drink. That’s fine too. Just don’t use red wine, as it makes your cream sauce pink and people in my house don’t eat pink food, especially if it’s on a steak.
How to make a creamy mushroom sauce (with booze)
For this recipe, I’ve used morel mushrooms, but you can use any type of fresh mushrooms you like. Anything from shiitake, crimini, baby portobello, Hokto Kinoko’s maitake, brown/white beech, king trumpet, to even the old standby white button mushroom. The mushrooms can be cut into big chunks, halved or sliced, depending on the type and the size. The general rule about mushrooms is to avoid washing them under water, and instead use a paper towel to brush off any dirt. Mushrooms are like sponges, and when you soak them or even rinse them, they will absorb the water, which makes it difficult to get a good browning in the saute pan.
1. Start with fresh mushrooms, clean the mushrooms by wiping surface with a damp cloth and trimming the stems off.
2. Saute onions slowly in butter or oil (or combo) so that they gently cook.
3. Once the onions are softened and browned (not burnt!) add the mushrooms and saute for just a couple of minutes.
4. It’s time. For the booze. Add a glug of bourbon, whiskey or even beer. Let it bubble a bit to burn off the alcohol.
5. Pour in some heavy cream – the amount is up to you. You can add as little as a tablespoon if you want. I like a lot of cream. I guess that’s why my jeans don’t fit.
6. Let it reduce for a bit.
7. And here’s the secrete ingredient….pour in just a touch of balsamic vinegar. This is to balance out the creaminess of the sauce….because the steak, the mushrooms and the cream is so rich, you need that little acid (or tang) to balance out the flavors. Trust me on this.
And here you go:
This steak was dry aged – see Dry Aging Steaks at Home.
It’s rich, decadent and the best part is that the recipe is flexible. In fact, check out Pioneer Woman’s cookbook – I made her Whiskey Sauce and then used it to top grilled LOBSTER. Oh yeah.
Steak with Creamy Whiskey Mushroom Sauce Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2-3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons whiskey, bourbon, beer or white wine
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream (though you can use as little as 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh herb of your choice (chives, parsley, tarragon, basil, etc.)
1. Rub both sides of each of the steaks with some cooking oil. Season steaks with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Heat a large frying pan or grill pan over high heat. When very hot, add the steaks. Cook both sides until desired doneness - timing depends on thickness of steak. Generally, for 1-inch thick steak, I grill 5 minutes per side then check with meat thermometer (145F is medium-rare, 160F is medium). Remove steaks to a plate and tent with tin foil to rest.
3. Return the same frying pan to the stove, heat the butter over medium heat. When the butter starts bubbling, add the onions and saute until the onions are soft, transluscent and just slightly golden. Take care not to burn the onions by keeping your heat on medium or even medium-low. This will take about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute until the garlic is fragrant.
4. Turn your heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms all at once. Immediately start tossing so that the onion/garlic/butter mixture is evenly distributed amongst the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they are browned and softened, about 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness and size of your mushrooms.
5. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour in the whiskey and the balsamic vinegar and let the mixture bubble a bit to burn off some of the alcohol. Turn the heat down just a bit and add in the heavy cream. Let it bubble for another 30 seconds and then taste to adjust the salt. Stir in the freshly minced herbs and pour over just-grilled steak.