If Yan Could Cook. . .

L’Entrecôte Attempt #1: Tarragon & Parsley Butter Sauce

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Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, mentioned earlier, is part of a family of restaurants in Europe that serve steak frites in a magnificent, unforgettable sauce. The sauce is regarded – at least by journalists and huffy cooks in internet forums – as impossible to reproduce. You want it? Go back to Paris and get in line!

Ah, if only.

This is my first attempt at re-creating it. The resulting sauce bears almost no resemblance to the one of fame, but is nevertheless delicious and amazing on steak.

In a deep pan of butter on very low heat, I smushed some stewing beef until it melted away all its outer bits and left only tough, butter-soaked stringy pieces, some of it to be reserved and the rest “thrown away” (meaning eaten. Meat that has paradoxically absorbed that much fat but given up all its moisture to the pan is transcendent and dirty at the same time, like jerky made from angels). JP walked in at this point and said, “Hey, it smells like the L’Entrecôte sauce!” before I had told him what I was trying to do and I got dumbly excited.


To this meaty butter I added a mirepoix of sorts: celery rib, one carrot, one onion, one shallot, four gloves of garlic, all chopped very fine. While that cooked, in the blender I put a couple pieces of the beef with a little bit of water, and then liquified it into meat-mulch. I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to do this. I then added parsley and tarragon leaves, as well as lemon juice, to the blender. In Paris, I had been convinced that the sourness in the sauce was from vinegar, but the forum debaters were so unanimously convinced it was lemon juice I decided to believe them.


The fresh herbs, the mirepoix, and the meat mixture all got blended together (with an additional 1/4 cup of melted butter and tons and tons of black pepper) into a pea-green sauce that matched other people’s descriptions of the colour but not my own memories. I cooked the two steaks (rare, oozing all over the plates, mmm…) in the same pan that the mirepoix had been in, and then deglazed the dark bits with red wine.


The deglazed liquid was added to the sauce in a pan (to keep it warm and keep the butter melted) and stirred in, and it was only then that it started to resemble the L’Entrecôte sauce to me at all, in taste, colour, and texture.

Probably correct: parsley, deglazed red wine liquid, black pepper, and beef fat in butter. I still think it’s supposed to have vinegar and mustard, not lemons. Whatever the heck I made, it tasted wonderful on oven fries and steak, the best meal I’ve had in weeks.

Other such people say that they can taste anchovies, liver, lemon grass, and/or marrow; we’ll see if my experimentation gets to that point before I can no longer remember the original.


Written by skimfu

March 23, 2009 at 12:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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