Simple Sauces for Steaks

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Have you ever noticed how, at restaurants, even lean cuts of steak come to the table glistening?  Then, with the first bite, they taste so rich--and they're never dry! No matter what you do, you just can't figure it out. Is it the professional stove that does it? A wood-fired grill? A fancy cut of meat?

Nope. The secret's in the sauce--and I'm about to spill.  The secret is butter.
Maître d’hôtel butter is a mixture of raw butter, parsley, and lemon juice.  The butter is spooned over a steak just as it leaves the grill, then melts onto the surface to leave behind only a sheen.

While I'm sharing a major trade secret here, I feel it’s my duty to report to all those trying to make healthy and positive changes in food they eat.  

The next time you order a lean steak at a restaurant ask your waiter if the chef finishes the steaks in butter and just say, “No, thank you.”  Better yet, save money and grill at home--then add color and flavor to your lean meat with these easy ideas and recipes. (We think these ideas are perfect for a simple Valentine's Day meal!)

Keep it simple: Pick up a prepared sauce
Leave the bottled steak sauce on the shelf. Most brands are prepared with loads of salt (280 mg per 1 tablespoon serving to be exact). Choose one of these instead.  Just spoon it over your just-cooked steak, then serve!
  • Pico de gallo
  • Salsa verde
  • Barbeque sauce (thin it out with a bit of orange or lemon juice)
  • Olive tapenade (thin out a teaspoonful with lemon juice)
Easy "cream" sauces: Just one more step
Start with 1/2 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt as a base, then stir in…
  • Mustard Sauce: Add 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar to thin to desired consistency
  • Creamy Salsa Sauce: Add 2 tablespoons prepared salsa and chopped fresh parsley
  • Wasabi Sauce: Add 1 tablespoon prepared wasabi paste (or to taste) and juice of one lemon
  • Creamy South of the Border Sauce: Add 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium taco seasoning and chopped cilantro
Start from scratch (but still ready in no time):
  • Pan reduction sauces are so simple and flavorful.  Use when cooking a steak in a grill pan or sauté pan.  Remove the cooked steak from the pan, and set aside.  Quickly add 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 4 ounces low-sodium beef or vegetable stock to the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon to remove any fond (crust), then swirl in 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard or 1 tablespoon miso paste.  Finish the sauce with drained and rinsed capers, chopped thyme or parsley.
  • Try a fresh green sauce on any sliced flank or flat-iron steak for a burst of color and citrus.  My recipe for chimichurri will make enough for dinner and then some.  Use leftover sauce as a spread for a sandwich the next day.
  • Some like it cool.  If you season your steak with a heavy dose of black pepper or spices, try this cooling cucumber sauce.  Thin to desired consistency with lemon juice.
  • Some like it hot.  Try this chili-garlic paste recipe then thin out with red wine vinegar to turn it into a heat lover’s sauce. (Perhaps this is the best choice for Valentine's Day!)
Here's a bonus recipe for you: Peppercorn Steak with Herbed Blue Cheese
Keep your steak sides simple: steamed broccoli or asparagus and boiled potatoes with herbs are great choices.
What is your favorite way to top your steak?
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Like this blog? Then you'll love "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight."