A Classic French Brown Sauce From Bordeaux
A classic French sauce named for the famous Bordeaux wine region in France from where it was first developed. I have looked high and low on the Internet to find an individual source to give credit for this sauce, but have not been able to find anyone.
What I did learn by researching this sauce is there are a lot of variations featuring a variety of ingredients. What they all have in common is a Bordeaux style red wine and I guess if you truly want to call it Bordelaise, it should be made with a French Bordeaux wine which is typically a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot grapes.
Why So Many Variations?
My guess is because this sauce comes from a region and not an individual chef, different families in the Bordeaux region made their own family variations, used Bordeaux wine and called it Bordelaise sauce.
One family used bone marrow, another didn’t. One family finished the sauce with butter, another cream. If you make a sauce using a nice red Bordeaux wine and some demi glace, you have a Bordelaise.
Bordeaux is one of France’s premier wine regions. Ergo, “Bordelaise” in its most general form, refers to a wide range of dishes that incorporate wine, most notably Bordeaux wine. Bordelaise sauce is a classic French sauce made from brown sauce infused with shallots, bone marrow, herbs, and of course, wine.
Bordelaise sauce works particularly well with fillet mignon. (The actual cut of meat in its whole form is called the tenderloin. When cut into individual steaks or medallions it is then called fillet mignon.)
While being the tenderest cut of meat, tenderloin is not the most flavorful. Here’s where a Bordelaise can really shine. Employ a heartier red such as Cabernet Sauvignon or ideally, a Bordeaux. You don’t need an expensive one; just one that is good enough to drink.
Did You Know New Orleans Have Their Own Bordelaise Sauce?
Yes, they do but their versions are not too similar. Theirs feature garlic, parsley and butter but no red wine or demi glace. I have no idea how they came up with their sauce but they serve it with steak, chicken, oysters and their famous escargot bourguignionne.
Bordelaise Sauce Recipe
- 1 ounce butter ¼ stick
- ¼ cup finely chopped shallots
- ½ cup Bordeaux red wine Substitute any claret style red wine
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black peppercorn
- 1 cup demi glace
- 4 ounces diced beef bone marrow
- Prep the ingredients by removing the thyme leaves from the stems. Save the leaves and discard the stems. Crack the black peppercorns.
- To prep the bone marrow, dice the bone marrow, and simmer in a small pot of water for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the diced marrow and reserve.
- Heat up a sauce pan over medium heat. When hot, add the butter, melt and then the shallots.
- Sauté the shallots for a couple of minutes until they become translucent but be careful not to let them burn.
- Remove the pan from the heat source, add the red wine, return the pan to the heat and reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fresh thyme & cracked peppercorns
- Continue reducing the liquids until most of the wine is cooked off.
- All the cookbooks say, “cook to an essence” and to me that just means cook until there is very little liquid left in the pan.
- Add the demi place to the pan and simmer for approximately 6 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. Be sure to stir every so often so the sauce does not burn.
- Add and stir the reserved bone marrow to the sauce and continue simmering until the marrow has melted and becomes well incorporated into the sauce.
- Reduce the sauce until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- This sauce is good on most cuts of grilled meats including venison but is especially great on beef tenderloin or juicy sirloin steak.