The fundamentals of cooking: Steak in pan sauce

Abhi Varma/Staff

While steak remains the most luxurious choice for this recipe, your choice of meat is close to irrelevant here. Chicken thighs, pork chops, lamb chops or really any cut of well-marbled meat could also work. Remember: Fat equals flavor! You could even substitute meat for a portobello mushroom cap or tofu on Meatless Mondays.


  • New York strip steak, well marbled and about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red wine
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 generous pats butter
  • Lemon, halved
  • Canola oil

Method — Steak:

  1. Remove steak from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking and generously season all around with kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large stainless steel pan over medium-high heat, adding one turn of canola oil to the pan.
  3. Once oil is shimmering, add the steak.
    • Do not move the meat once in the pan and stuck; it will self-release once ready to flip.
  4. Cook about 7 minutes on the first side, then 6 minutes on the other for medium doneness.
    • Take out the guesswork by getting a meat thermometer — aim for 145 degrees Fahrenheit internally before taking the steak off the heat.
  5. About 30 seconds before the second side is done cooking, add a generous pat of butter, a whole garlic clove and rosemary.
  6. Baste meat in the melting butter.
  7. Place steak with the fat cap side down and render for about 1 minute (this is the white strip of fat on the edge of your steak).
  8. Remove steak from the pan and set aside with garlic and rosemary to rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat off and leave the brown bits stuck in the bottom of the pan as is — this is the key to your sauce!

Method — Sauce:

  1. Peel and finely chop the shallot.
  2. Add shallot to pan over medium heat and cook until translucent and fragrant.
  3. Add 3-4 turns of full-bodied red wine to the pan, followed by whole sprig of rosemary.
  4. Scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  5. Once sauce has reduced by half, add a generous pat of butter and stir to incorporate.
  6. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan and discard the rosemary sprig, stirring to combine.
  7. Continue to stir and reduce sauce until it flows slowly across the pan when tilted.
  8. Chop the caramelized garlic (from basting the steak) and add to the sauce.
  9. Spoon sauce over steak and serve.

In this recipe, learning how to develop a good crust on a cut of meat, deglaze a pan and rest your food are the main takeaways. Each kitchen has its own unique intricacies that you will figure out over time. For any home cook, the most important skill is to learn that cooking is a forgiving enterprise. With each new experience, you gain confidence that will make the next one even more enjoyable and rewarding.

Contact Abhi Varma at [email protected].