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

Sunday April 2, 2017

The best cuts for weeknight cooking are the tender cuts from the lesser used muscles at the rear of animal, including the rib and loin cuts. This translates in our everyday terms as the rib eye (also known as the Delmonico or market steak) which as a bit of fatty patch but is known for being so flavorful; the boneless top loin (also known as a New York Strip, strip steak, or sirloin strip steak); the most tender tenderloin slice (a filet mignon or fillet steak); a top sirloin (also the shell sirloin), is less tender than the other steaks but very popular and economical; Porterhouse and T-bones, which has a strip of of New York and little piece of fillet; flank steak; and the hard to find restaurant favorite, flat-iron steak or blade steak. Steaks are easily pan seared but vary due to thickness, size, and shape.

Ribeyes come in all shapes and sizes, but finding one roughly an inch (2.5 cm) thick is ideal. These steaks typically have the nice, fatty marbling on the interior that makes it delicious and moist. Additionally, there is little waste because of minimal gristle and a only thin strip of fat on the edge.

Depending on the size of the steak and the thickness, cooking times vary. The same can be said for how hot the pan is. In general, however, the steak should be on each side for 2:30-4:30 minutes, depending on the level of doneness you prefer. This helps it cook all the way through, as well as cook off some of the fat.[21] For a 3.5cm/1.3in. steak, the following is a good guideline:
Rare – 2:15 per side (125 F/ 51C) – There will be significant redness inside. A very pliable ribeye.
Medium-rare – 3:15 per side (135 F/ 57C) – More pink than red, this steak will be slightly tougher than rare and have considerable juices flowing.
Medium – 4:15 per side (140 F/ 60C) – Slightly pink inside, there will be minimal juice escaping.
Well-done – Over 4:15 per side (155 F/ 68C) – Cooked until thoroughly dark, the level of doneness ranges from spongy to hockey puck, depending on the desired result.
Some prefer to get the initial char and then put it into the oven. This is a good way to retain moistness and flavor.
Red wine pan sauce 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 filet. The technique here for the sauce is one that is familiar to those who have ever taken a French cooking class–you pour in the ingredients, then let it boil to thicken and dissolve those little brown bits on the bottom of the pan known to the professionals as deglazing the pan (be sure to pour off any fat), then swirl in a little butter at the end which adds a nice texture and glossiness to the sauce. And ever so tasty. It doesn’t get any more classic than this. 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 simple steamed green beans, broccoli, or asparagus.

Cooking Method: Stovetop

Cook Time: About 15 minutes

Serves 4


4 rib-eye steaks, each 7- to 8-ounces

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 or Zinfandel

1 cup 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 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and divide remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces; toss into the pan and whisk until dissolved. Season to taste. Makes about 3/4 cup. Place the steaks on dinner plates and top each with abut 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 2017

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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