Bordelaise Sauce

A classic French sauce from the Bordeaux region, traditionally requiring a daunting multiple day commitment. But after having some at Tocqueville the other day, I was craving more, and decided to try a less elaborate version. The sauce is a reduction of shallot-infused red wine (Bordeaux of course), mixed with demi-glace, and fortified with melted bone marrow. Instead, I used the open bottle of Malbec from Cahors, and beef broth from a box. I relied on the rendered pan drippings from the steak to take the place of the marrow, and fortified the wine with a bit of Irish Whiskey. Results were surprisingly close to the real stuff, with a lot less work. Although intense, it’s relatively light and extremely silky, as it relies on reduction rather than thickening with a roux or with cream.


  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 TB whiskey
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp capers (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 TB butter
  • Rendered pan drippings from steak


  1. Slice the shallot thinly, and divide in half.
  2. Melt 1 tsp of the butter in a wide shallow pan over medium heat, and add half the shallots. Stir for a minute to coat with the butter, then pour in the beef broth, along with the bay leaf, peppercorns, and capers.
  3. Increase heat to high, and cook down until only ¼ cup of liquid remains.
  4. Meanwhile, in saucepan over medium heat, add the wine and the whiskey. Carefully ignite to burn off the alcohol more quickly. Once the flames have subsided, add the remaining shallots. Cook down until only about ¼ cup of liquid remain.
  5. Add the reduced broth mixture to the wine, and continue to reduce until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, and whisk in remaining butter and pan drippings.
  6. Strain the sauce through a wire mesh strainer, pushing down on the solids to extract all of the juices. Stir in the pan drippings.
  7. Return the strained sauce to the saucepan and reduce further until only a few tablespoons of syrupy sauce remain.
  8. To serve, put a spoonful of the sauce on the plate, add the sliced steak on top, and drizzle the remaining half of the sauce over the top. Accompany with a nice Bordeaux.
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