Valentine’s Day can often lead to forced gestures for those not so versed in the romance department. We can blame Hallmark or consumerism for the dread some fear when this holiday approaches. Luckily Parisian men don’t tend to fall into this category, as many are romantic on most days of the year. I remember being impressed on more than one occasion by the gifts a French man would bring me even on a first date. So instead of asking your man where he’s going to take you this Valentine’s Day, why not turn the tables and cook him a luscious dish from the privacy of your own home? There are so many great French recipes from which to choose to romance your mate.
Because most people have been experiencing some extreme winter temperatures, it’s a perfect time to make something hearty and warm to set the mood. Save the light salads and healthy grains for your night catching up with the girls. There are not many men who will turn down a big beefy steak, but with this recipe you’re going to class it up with a silky sauce.
Now, what kind of steak to get? Filet mignon is a luxurious piece of meat but will also set you back a little cash. With a sauce this flavorful, you can use a cheaper cut like an entrecôte or faux filet if you’re in Paris, or strip or sirloin steak elsewhere. This is French cooking, so naturally butter is involved, but you can substitute olive oil for it or simply keep the butter to a minimum like I did.
There are really only two main ingredients to the recipe, but these two pack all the punch to make this a strong, sexy sauce. I like using a well-aged balsamic vinegar because it will impart complex notes and depth. The addition of demi-glace also brings a deep richness that keeps the sauce robust without needing to spend hours roasting and cultivating flavors. The two combined with some heat will produce a thick, velvety sauce that should set a nice tone for your evening.
The few choice ingredients and one-pan preparation means less time prepping and cooking in the kitchen—after all, you have better things to do.
Sautéed Steak with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons beef or veal demi-glace
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
1. Generously season steaks with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium-high heat until melted and nearly smoking. Add steaks to pan and cook approximately 3–4 minutes on each side, until cooked to your desired level. Remove steaks from pan and allow to rest under foil.
3. Turn down heat to medium and place shallots and garlic in pan, cooking until fragrant. Then add vinegar and demi-glace, scraping the bottom of the pan to combine all drippings into the sauce.
4. Cook sauce a minute or two until it thickens. Pour the juices from the resting steak plate into the pan, and then finish with the final tablespoon of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Drizzle sauce over steaks and serve.
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