pan-seared steak with red wine pan sauce

I try not to participate in many blog events, since about a third of my entries are already committed to Tuesdays with Dorie and the Daring Bakers. But Elly’s Eat to the Beat is such a great idea, and I thought it could be a fun way to meld my favorite hobby with Dave’s, which is music.


Dave learned to play guitar from his uncle, who plays lead guitar in this song. His best friend, Sid Faiwu, does the drums and synthesizer in this song. The three of them played together for years until Dave and Sid both moved away from their home town as well as from each other. Now they try to send around mp3’s of new songs, but that obviously doesn’t work well.

Dave wrote this song, Bustle, in grad school after a particularly stressful test. It’s one of my favorites. The song is very dark, and really not about food in any way. The only line that I could think to apply to food was “dripping red.” Because of the nature of the song, I wanted something that would look as bloody as possible. And what’s bloodier than red wine sauce dripping down animal flesh?

I know I’ve been overdoing the Cooks Illustrated recipes lately, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I turn to their recipes for classics, like this steak with pan sauce. I feel like their recipes are less mass-produced and therefore more carefully developed than a lot of those from the Food Network or epicurious. And I’m generally bad at cooking steak, so I needed as much detail as possible.

The steak came out really well. I only undercooked it a little, and at least I didn’t burn the outside like I often do. The sauce was good as well. I think next time I’ll reduce the sugar by half, but other than that, it was perfect with the steak. And it certainly looks as gory as the song sounds.

Pan-Seared Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce for Two (from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves 2

CI note: Pan sauces cook quickly, so prepare the ingredients before you begin cooking the steaks. Use a heavy skillet with a nonreactive cooking surface.

Bridget note: I used strip steak, because it’s my favorite.

2 boneless 8-ounce rib-eye steaks or top loin steaks, 1 to 1¼ inches thick, thoroughly dried
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
¼ cup dry red wine , such as Cabernet Sauvignon
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1. Heat heavy-bottomed, 10-inch skillet over high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, season both sides of steaks with salt and pepper.

2. Lay steaks in pan, leaving ¼-inch of space between each; reduce heat to medium-high, and cook without moving until well browned, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks; cook 4 minutes more for rare, 5 minutes more for medium-rare, and 6 minutes more for medium. Transfer steaks to large plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

3. Off heat, add shallot and sugar to empty skillet; using pan’s residual heat, cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are slightly softened and browned and sugar is melted, about 45 seconds. Return skillet to high heat, add wine, broth, and bay leaf; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom with wooden spoon. Boil until liquid is reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar and mustard; cook at medium heat to blend flavors, about 1 minute longer. Off heat, whisk in butter until melted and sauce is thickened and glossy. Add thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf, spoon sauce over steaks and serve immediately.


  1. Hubby is a big beef guy, I think I am going to have to make this.

  2. What a great idea to use a song your husband wrote. This looks so delicious, even at 8:30 in the morning. Steak with wine sauce is one of the best things on the planet. Thanks so much for participating!

  3. sidfaiwu says:

    I never thought that my name would become associated with steak in any way. 😉

    Music and food are too of my favorite things. Great idea to combine the two in a post. Thanks for using our song for this post. The “dripping red” in the song matches well with your images of the steak.

    Are you going to do more “Elly’s Eat to the Beat”?

  4. WOW!! This looks and sounds amazing!

  5. Sid – Yeah, I thought using steak as my entry was sort of ironic, since you don’t eat red meat, but whatever.

    I’ll participate in EttB as long as you guys provide me with songs to use. Since EttB is a quarterly event and Dave only produces maybe a song per year, I thought I might try to use some of your electronica, if I could find any way to relate it to food.

  6. This looks great! We don’t have steak very often, but I’ll have to keep this in mind next time we do. My husband loves a good steak dinner 🙂

  7. Great song and delicious looking meal!

  8. That’s Dave in the song? Nice voice! It’s very current, if that makes any sense 🙂 I’ve never made a pan sauce before. In fact, it’s been an age since we had beef in this household (grandma doesn’t eat it, so… no one does). You are making me miss it big-time!

  9. Wow! this looks amazing! Thanks!!

  10. This really looks quite delicious. Love those CI recipes, and recipes for two are a bonus!

  11. bunnies4buddha says:

    EttB sounds like a fun challenge. I wonder, are you going to limit it to just songs by Dave or branch out into songs by other artists you both like?

    As far as the steak goes I am sure you worked hard on it and it is “dripping”. I bet coming up with the recipe to match the song was a challenge in itself. For me though, – it’s nice…not thrilling, but nice 🙂

  12. This looks perfect. I’m making steak tomorrow, so I’ll refer to this again! Thanks!

  13. Great recipe we added a bit of garlic to the pan sauce as well as piled fried onions on top, delicious!

  14. Laura says:

    I have made this numerous times using filet mignon steak, and it is absolutely amazing. My husband loves it too! Great way to have steak in the winter, without having to BBQ in the freezing cold! Thanks for the recipe!!

  15. Made this a heap of times since discovering it last year, one of the tastiest (and relatively easy) steak recipes…

  16. First, let say I love your steak photos.
    It’s not a easy item to photograph and still convey the passion that has obviously gone into the cooking.
    I read your method and liked it’s simplicity but i would to add a couple of provisos.
    When you season any food with salt it draws out the moisture so I prefer to season the steak in the pan,
    so if there is any delay to the beginning of the cooking process (such as an untimely phone call) no moisture
    is lost. Secondly, many modern houses and apartments have smoke detectors (often situated close to the kitchen)
    so I suggest opening windows as well as turning up the extraction fan on your hood to avoid setting them off.
    Best Wishes
    Kevin Ashton
    Chef and Food Writer
    Ps…I will keep slobbering over your food pics from time to time


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