How to make a red butter for your favorite steaks or fish
Sauces are a great way to enhance just about any dish; add butter to a lot and you’ll knock it out of the park. Butter makes everything better. Butter has been used in French cuisine since the Middle Ages and was once known as the fat of the poor. We use butter in cooking and baking for moisture, flavor and of course fat content. It helps breads, pastries and cookies rise and gives foods a richer texture.
When we talk about texture, we are talking about mouthfeel. The way food feels with every bite. Using butter in pastries or other baking recipes is completely different from using it in savory dishes. Savory dishes use butter as an emulsifier, like in a sauce. Sometimes a knob of butter will be added to a dish just before serving. It’s all about creating a rich, silky finish to coat the dish and thicken the juices in a quick sauce.
When a few knobs of butter just aren’t enough for your dish, you can create sauces such as beurre blanc, herb sauce or maybe you need Hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce. The extra steps you take will make your dishes even more remarkable. One such sauce is the butter-enriched red wine butter sauce known as Beurre Rouge.
What is Beurre Rouge?
Beurre Rouge is a French butter sauce that literally translates to red butter. It was created by accident when a French chef was trying to make Béarnaise sauce and forgot to add tarragon and egg yolk. The recipe is the same base as Beurre Blanc but substitutes red wine for white wine. The cooking time will be the same with a reduction of red wine then whisk in the cubes of cold butter. It’s a rich sauce that will go well with most fish and seafood dishes – due to the richness of red wine, it would be a perfect accompaniment to steak.
When making Beurre Rouge, you should use a dry red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or perhaps a Zinfandel. The sauce should be a dark but rich red color and you can achieve this by using a young dry red wine. The sauce may have its origins in classic French cuisine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enhance the flavors by introducing additional fresh herbs or spices.
Red Butter Sauce Recipe Variations
Try any combination of flavors in your sauce or you can try these classics.
- Fresh parsley, fresh thyme and fresh oregano
- Fresh tarragon for a salmon or veal dish
- Fresh garlic and mix of fresh herbs
- Rosemary and fresh garlic
- Use pomegranate in place of red wine for an alcohol-free red butter.
How to make red butter
Red Butter Recipe
- 8 ounces of red wine
- 1.5 ounces dry red wine vinegar
- 1 ounce shallots, chopped
- 1 pound cold unsalted butter, cubed
- Salt to taste
- Place the wine, vinegar and shallots in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce until about 1 ounce of liquid remains.
- Add the cubed butter to the hot liquid. Put the saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk. When the butter is melted and starting to incorporate, remove from the heat and continue whisking until the sauce becomes smooth and glossy.
- Adjust the seasoning and salt to taste.
- The sauce should be kept warm and not hot. You may need to whisk the sauce occasionally to keep it thick.
Tips and tricks
- Make sure the butter is hard and cold. If you use soft butter, it will be more difficult to obtain an emulsion.
- Traditional French cuisine says to strain the sauce to remove the shallots but you can leave them in.
- If you see the sauce starting to bubble or break up, reduce the heat or remove it completely. The residual heat will still allow the butter to melt.
- Add a small amount of cream to the sauce to help stabilize it and prevent it from breaking. This will also add to the creaminess of the sauce.