The quickest, easiest and – some would say – best way to cook a steak is to pan-fry it. Certainly, this is an attractive option in the depths of winter, but the results are exceptional enough to make it a preferred method year round.
After a quick sear on both sides, the steak can be cooked to perfection in 10 minutes or less without all the fuss and mess of a broiler or grill. With the steak right there in full view, it’s easier to test for the precise degree of doneness that you prefer.
And to top it off? The classic Bordelaise sauce, a rich reduction of dry red wine and veal stock, updated with earthy morel mushrooms and the essence of spicy-garlicky ramp bulbs, is nothing short of sublime. The sauce is easier to make than you might think and can be prepared hours or up to a day in advance, then finished just as the steaks hit the plates.
Some might find the amount of butter in this dish alarming, but if there was ever a time to splurge, this is it. Every bit of it is absolutely essential, so don’t be tempted to skimp. One savory bite will be all it takes to understand why.
Pan-Fried Bison Steak with Morel & Ramp Bordelaise Sauce
Bordelaise literally means “in the style of Bordeaux,” the important red wine producing region of France. While there are many variations on the classic reduction of wine and stock (including some with mushrooms), as far as we know, our version with morels and ramps is unique.
If fresh morels are out of season, just use reconstituted dried morels as suggested in the recipe. If fresh ramps are unavailable, try frozen or dehydrated ramp bulbs instead. The results will still be fantastic.
2 Tbsp butter, divided
- 3-4 oz fresh orchard morels or other fresh morels (substitute 1/2 oz dried morels, reconstituted)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh or frozen ramp bulbs
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 1 cup veal or beef stock
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 2 6-8 oz bison strip steaks, about 1 inch thick
- 1 Tbsp olive oil combined with 1 Tbsp melted butter
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
Start the sauce before you cook the steak, or up to 1 day earlier
Clean the morels thoroughly by soaking them in cold salted water for 20 minutes. This will flush out any “hitchhikers” and help remove and forest debris or grit. Drain and rinse gently under cold running water. Drain again and place on paper towels. Very small morels may be left whole, but larger ones should be cut lengthwise into halves or quarters.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the morels and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked morels into a small dish, leaving the butter behind.
Return the saucepan to the heat and add another tablespoon of butter. Stir in the finely chopped ramp bulbs, cooking over moderate heat until translucent, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the wine, stock, bay leaf, and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered until reduced by two-thirds. Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pressing down hard on the solids with the back of a spoon to squeeze out all the liquid before discarding. Return the strained wine to the pan and set aside until later.
When you’re ready to cook the steak, make sure the butter, morels and steak are all at room temperature. Start the wine simmering again on the lowest possible heat.
Heat the olive oil/butter blend in a heavy frying pan over high. When the pan begins to sizzle, add the steaks, searing them over high heat for about a minute. Turn them quickly with tongs and sear for about a minute on the other side.
Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, turning again every 2 minutes or so for a total of about 6 to 8 minutes or until done to your taste. Raise or lower the heat as necessary while cooking.
You should be able to judge the doneness of the steaks by pressing lightly with your finger: very rare meat is soft and pulpy; medium-rare is slightly resistant; and well-done is quite firm.
When the steaks are done, remove the immediately to warm plates, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, and allow to rest while you quickly finish the sauce.
Quickly whisk the softened butter into the simmering wine mixture, a tablespoon at a time. Gently stir in the butter-cooked morels. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve immediately.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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