My Best Sauces: Rib-Eyes with Red Wine Pan Sauce

Sunday February 10, 2013

center cut ribeyes

Rib-Eyes with Red Wine Pan Sauce

When writing NYM Weeknight Cooking, I spent time making sure all the basic French style pan sauces were included for the stove top dishes. After all, they are fast and they are incredibly delicious, as well as being so basic to make, even a new-to-the-kitchen who never cooked before can master them in a flash.

Red wine pan sauce is one of the workhorse sauces of the kitchen. It can take even a simple hamburger and make it really special. But here it is paired with a rib-eye, which is basically your standing rib roast, cut into individual portions and deboned. It is tender and tasty, but not as lean as a trimmed fillet. One of the taste secrets is to use shallots, that diminutive onion that is a cross between garlic and a big onion flavorwise. you only need one of them instead of cutting a few tablespoons off a big onion and having it leftover in the fridge.

The technique here for the sauce is one that is familiar to those who have ever taken a French cooking class–remove the cooked meat–then you pour the liquid ingredients into the hot pan, then let it boil to evaporate quickly and the sauce will naturally thicken and dissolve those little brown bits on the bottom of the pan. This is known to the professionals as deglazing the pan (be sure to pour off any fat). A little swirling in of butter at the end adds a nice texture and glossiness to the sauce. And ever so tasty.

It doesn’t get any more classic than this and you can keep that favorite bottle of red wine right by the stove, just like the chefs do. Use this all-purpose sauce on any manner of beef steak. Even with a 12-inch skillet, plan on cooking the steaks in two shifts since only two will fit in the pan at one time. Serve with roasted potatoes (or as the French do, pommes frites), and simple steamed green beans, broccoli, or asparagus. Serve your leafy greens vinaigrette afterwards to cleanse the palate.

Serves 4


  • 4 rib-eye steaks, each 7- to 8-ounces, grass fed if possible
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, or olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet, Merlot, Chianti, or Zinfandel
  • 1 cup canned salt-free beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, regular or whole-grain


Pat the steak dry with paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet or sauté pan (can be non-stick) over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. If using olive oil spray, spray the pan before placing it on the heat. Add the steaks to the hot pan and cook 3 minutes each side for medium-rare, 4 minutes for medium, and 5 minutes for well-done. Remove from the pan to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Pour off or dab with paper towel to remove any fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons butter. Add the shallots and cook until softened but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook 30 seconds. Add the broth, vinegar, and mustard and bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the brown particles that cling to the pan. Continue to cook until reduced by half and thickened nicely, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and divide remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces; toss into the pan and whisk in to the hot sauce until dissolved. Season to taste. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Place the steaks on dinner plates and top each with about 3 tablespoons of the red wine sauce. Serve immediately.

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2009, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2013

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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