Steak #11: Pan-Cooked with Mushroom Sauce and Spinach

The Big Idea: Was kind of a lazy one: cook a steak, with sauce and side, without going to the grocery store. That was also my starting point last time, but this time I had even fewer ingredients on hand, so the sauce was a combination of dried mushrooms (store-bought) and dried apples (house-dried) soaked in water, blended, and mixed with some sage, because it was the first thing to come off the spice rack.

The Steak: I dried the steak to start, as I’ve been learning, but still didn’t have any paper towels, so did it with newspaper. I let it rest with some salt and pepper. Since there was no particular marinade or rub flavor to preserve, I decided the Flip Once technique this time.

Steak in the Pan

I heated the pan ’til it passed the water test, cooked it, flipped it, and cooked it a little more, waiting for the blood drops to time my flip and finish. Rested on a rack tented with tin foil. Once again, this technique produced a wonderful medium-rare steak. Steaks 8 and 9 were so instructive! However, the char was sub-par, perhaps due to poor drying – I resolve to purchase paper towels before cooking my next steak.

Soaking Mushrooms

The Sauce: How to describe this sauce? It was…fine. I rehydrated dried mushrooms and dried apples in boiling water, blitzed them with an immersion blender, and used the mixture to make a pan sauce. I sauteed a shallot in the pan once the steak came out, then added the liquid-mushroom-apple mixture with some salt, pepper and sage, and cooked it all down while the steak rested. At the end, I added a little butter.

It was…fine. Kind of eh. It didn’t add anything to the steak, but it didn’t seriously detract from it, either. I think it was just not well suited to the steak – maybe the apple made it too sweet? Maybe the sage wasn’t quite right? I’m not sure. But it was actually pretty good as a sauce for the spinach, and it was good with some scrambled eggs this morning. Something about it just didn’t really go well with steak.Steak 11 on the Plate

The Side: While not exactly classy, the package of chopped frozen spinach I reheated to accompany this steak was also…fine. The sauce actually dressed it up decently. There’s not really much to say here – it was frozen spinach.

The Verdict: This whole meal was…fine. The steak itself was quite good, but the ill-paired sauce and throw-away side downgraded the overall meal.  You can’t win ’em all!

Notes for Next Time:

  • Buy paper towels for a properly dried steak.
  • Go to the grocery store when necessary! A fresh vegetable like some sauteed kale would have required only slightly more effort, and made the meal seem much nicer.
  • Learn the secret to improvising sauces that fit the things they’re supposed to go on. That sounds like a whole separate project – sixteen sauces?


  • Why is this timing-by-blood-drops thing not common knowledge? Or is it just something that everyone else knew and I didn’t? It seems like a foolproof route to a medium-rare steak. Have you heard of it?
  • What is the secret to improvising sauces that fit the things they’re supposed to go on? Suggestions? Links? Other resources?


2 responses to “Steak #11: Pan-Cooked with Mushroom Sauce and Spinach

  1. I have never heard of the timing by blood thing. Is it because I still broil steaks? I wonder. Here’s a thought: If you really hate paper towels, try an old cotton t-shirt or “flour sack” toweling. Newspaper is probably better at blotting oil than absorbing blood.

    • It’s definitely harder to do under the broiler, since you can’t watch them. Since starting this project, I’ve actually become quite uninterested in broiling steak…the pan has won me over.

      I think you’re right about newspaper and oil vs. blood (and I know it isn’t actually blood, just red liquid, right?). I broke down and bought paper towels for the next one!

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