Summer steaks on the grill beg for acid accompaniments. Vinegar bases for hot-weather months are much more enjoyable than dominant, winter-heavy sauces. Additions of fresh herbs will beautifully accessorize and bravely stand up to denser meat cuts. Grab some steaks and let’s drop some acid.
It’s a flower. It’s an Avett Brothers album from 2004. It’s also a term for a special nugget of prime choice meat (like lamb noisettes or filet) or bits of vegetables, a peppercorn-flavoring sachet for soups, and finally, the most famous version- a simple dipping sauce for oysters. Mignonette usually waits for oyster season, which means the sauce doesn’t accompany much during the summer time. Which is so sad. Mignonette is one of the simplest, most versatile sauces on the planet, and it's especially perfect for hot weather. The punchy sauce is perfect for summer steak: simple, pushy, peppercorn-heavy with a tangy vinegar base. No, there is no oil – so we bulk up the traditional mignonette with just a little extra shallot. We recommend it for sliced steak dipping – then just eat as is or lay over a piece of crusty bread.
Make with 1.5 Tbsp minced shallot, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, simply stirred. Although not traditional, a pinch of ground cloves added to the mix partners with the beef and can really help bring out any caramelization that transpired during the grill process.
The famous home for good beef, chimichurri’s Argentinian origins serve it well for steak. It's a gorgeous green sauce similar to pesto, but spicier. Loads of finely chopped herbs, namely parsley and oregano, rest in an olive oil medium. Red wine vinegar gives chimichurri just the cut it needs to penetrate over the steak and activate the sauce’s herbs. Often used as a marinade, but amazing as a dipping sauce or spooned over meats, chimichurri's vibrant green dollops glisten and pop over charred meat. Have a bunch of parsley in the garden? Don’t let it go to waste – the recipe uses plenty of it.
Chimichurri needs to sit for about 2 hours before being served with meats. The longer those components mingle, the more developed and complex the sauce will be. Spoon over charred skirt steak. Don’t be afraid to plunge bread in it, spoon over mignonetted potatoes (see what we did there?), or use as a dip for asparagus tips or fries. Drink it, whatever.
Combine 1 finely chopped shallot, 4 finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 finely chopped red jalapeño, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Mix in 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (trimmed of stems), 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano, and 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; season with salt.
In A Pinch:
- The 2 Tbsp fresh oregano can be replaced with 2tsp dried oregano.
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes can also replace the jalapeño
- Sub in mint and cilantro for the oregano as super fresh variations.
Part of historical cocktail culture, shrubbing is making a comeback in urban bars. Shrubbing is a fairly easy “set and forget process,” and starts by adding sugar to the ripest fruits you can find at the farmer’s market. The mix is left to rest and ruminate for a few days. Vinegar is added after the fruits have started to break down, warping the mix into a charming tangy-sweet pickled fruit mush. The solids get strained and cocktails are created with the perky leftover liquid.
Here’s the deal: read this article on shrubs first. After straining those shrub solids, do not throw them out. This is solid gold steak sauce material. Save the leftover vinegary vestiges to brighten up meats on the grill. Spoon that pickled fruit over your cooked meat for a perfect tangy chutney-esque accompaniment. Think star fruit, peaches, and add your own kick of jalapeno. Bad ass, unexpected, and so not wasteful.