Mushroom Sauce for Steak
June 22, 2020 | Updated February 27, 2022
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This is a classic French mushroom sauce for steak that you can manipulate depending on what sort of mushrooms, as well as steak, you happen to have on hand.
Whichever route you go, this is classically French. Lots of butter, shallots, a splash of brandy or Madeira or Marsala, a pinch of thyme, and parsley or chervil at the end.
For the pictures, I used elk steaks and spring porcini mushrooms, but obviously beef and button mushrooms from the store will work fine. I’ll get into some mushroom recommendations in a moment.
I have to thank the great Julia Child for this mushroom sauce for steak. It’s very close to her tournedos sautés chasseur from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which if you don’t own you are missing out on one of the greatest cookbooks in the English language.
There are two ways to go about this mushroom sauce: You can dice the mushrooms and make this more of a cohesive sauce, as I did — or you can slice the mushrooms thin but otherwise whole, which makes a brown sauce that has mushrooms in it rather than a mushroom sauce, if you get my meaning.
And while this is a mushroom sauce for steak, you will want to serve it with something else to eat it with: Mashed potatoes with lots of butter, cream and some garlic is a good call. Crusty bread would be, too, as is polenta or grits.
(You can find more recipes for sauces that go well with fish and game here.)
As for the steak, Julia Childs’ recipe calls for beef filet mignon, and by all means use that if you have it. I used elk backstrap, seared medium-rare, and then sliced so I can see the pretty rosy color. Any venison backstrap or tenderloin would be a good choice, as would any cut of beef steak that pleases you.
And even though this is billed as a mushroom sauce for steak, try it on a pork chop, which is, more or less, a pork steak. Or grilled chicken. It’s actually very good with salmon, too.
Once made, you really do need to eat it, though. While this sauce will reheat OK after a day or two in the fridge, it won’t be quite as good.
Here is another excellent recipe using venison steaks and mushrooms. Hope you like it!)
Mushroom Sauce for Steak
- 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, diced or sliced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- Salt and black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup venison, mushroom or beef stock
- 1/3 cup brandy, Madeira or Marsala wine
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Minced parsley, tarragon or chervil
- The best way to make this sauce is something of a two-step: Sear the mushrooms first, then cook the steak in the same pan, then, while the steak is resting, finish the sauce. So start with a large saute pan set over high heat. Add all the mushrooms. Shake the pan and let them release their water, which should happen in a minute or three.
- Add the butter and toss to combine. Saute the mushrooms until nicely browned, then remove them to a bowl with any stray butter. Wipe out the pan and cook the steaks.
- When the steaks are resting, add the minced shallot to the pan, adding a little butter if it's too dry. Brown the shallot for a minute or two -- it will pick up any browned bits from the pan quickly -- and add the mushrooms and any juices from the bowl. Toss to combine.
- Add salt, pepper and thyme, then the tomato paste. Mix well and let this cook a minute. When the tomato paste is well incorporated, add the venison or beef stock and mix well. Pour in the brandy and bring everything to a boil. Let this boil until it thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, which will take a couple minutes depending on how big your pan is.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream and the minced fresh herbs. Taste once more for salt and serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Delirious and confused with this sauce. I used shitakes, and served it with Argentine picania and an Argentine Cabernet, and grilled asparagus.
The sauce is fantastic, but I can’t see how it goes with red meat–even something with more natural, earthy flavor like venison. I served the sauce on a little part of the steak, and noticed that after a few bites we scraped it off, ate the meat with the wine…and then ate the sauce as if it were desert. By the spoonful. I take that to mean that the sauce is delicious, but out of place.
It’s all cream and butter and brandy. How’s that supposed to combine with red meat? Maybe it’s the French palate I don’t understand. And what wine would you pair it with? I guess I should read Julia Childs and learn.
Darn sure it would be amazing with wild fowl like quail or goose or turkey.
In any case, thanks for the recipe and the puzzle.
Thanks Hank, made it tonight to go with leftover Father’s Day grilled steaks so I skipped the steak part. My sauce was a beautiful brown, tasted as good as it looked.
Would reconstituted dried mushrooms work for this?
Stella: Yes, I think so, but I have not made it with them as of yet.
I have used dried morels and dried chanterelles, both work fine, but save the liquid and use it. I had this basic sauce in France in 1961 with fresh chanterelles and it was superb. Little country inn on a side road in Brittany. One of those things you never forget
In Step 1, do you really mean “Sear the mushrooms first, then cook the steak in the same pan”? Or, is it supposed to be “Sear the steak first, then cook the mushrooms in the same pan”?
Gene: Yes, I really mean it. You want this sauce to come together quickly while the steak is resting, so you need to pre-sear the mushrooms to make that happen. You use the same pan three times: Sear mushrooms, cook steak, finish sauce.
Sorry, nevermind. I had to read it again. I see what you did.
I always enjoy your recipes.
Thanks for the reminder about sautéing the mushrooms without fat in a hot pan first – if they’re wild and fresh, they’re probably going to be pretty wet. Chervil is also a nice touch: almost impossible to buy and not easy to grow at home because there are few things pigeons like more. I know – get a cloche and stop complaining!
Sounds good. Will it work with puff balls? Do you have suggestions for them?
Cindy: Hmmmmm… I’d be hesitant to try it with puffballs because of their texture. Maybe rehydrated puffballs?
How about fresh right off the sawdust pile at the sawmill, slice those up and eat them like steak.
Wish I had this recipe a couple years back at turkey camp. We found a few morels and I just sautés them in butter. This would have made the perfect topping for our fire cooked steak.
I’m curious what you mean by “even chanterelles”? Are chanterelles not great for recipe like this? With chanterelle season coming up what would you use chanterelles for?
Michael: Chanterelles, to my mind, go better with fish and white meats. I rarely pair them with red meat, except in German jagerschnitzel. But admittedly, that is a personal preference.
I love your site. The recipes are very well thought out and delicious for an adventurous cook like me .
Since my childhood 70 years ago I have been a forager, squirrel hunter, mushroom connoisseur and avid fisherman.
I would love to try exotic meats like moose, elk, bear but they are not readily available to me here in CT..
Could you recommend something like “Omaha Beef” for wild game meat?
Peggy: Yes, I can. Look up Broken Arrow Ranch or Nicky USA. Both are great companies that ship game meats.
Looks fantastic. On the short list.
Oh, you always come up with the goodies. I would go parsley in the Summer and Thyme later in the year and always a slosh of brandy. Thanks again for suggesting my next treat.