Quite simply the ultimate red wine sauce for steak, that’s Bordelaise folks. Hailing from the Bordeaux region of France, Bordelaise sauce is one of those classical sauces every keen cook should have in their repertoire. Now you may serve Bordelaise on a great manly hunk of steak, but for me this sauce is essentially feminine. The Parisian woman of sauces if you will – complex, elegant, sophisticated.

Recipes differ considerably with some featuring bone marrow, some mushrooms, some neither. Whatever your preference, at the heart of a good Bordelaise you’ll find a great Bordeaux-style red wine, an exceptional demi-glacé beef broth and… patience. For, like anything worthwhile, a good Bordelaise takes time.

I give a recipe without bone marrow, as I know it’s not always that easy to find. This Bordelaise is rich, dark and incredibly velvety. Serve it with any steak of your choice and a glass or two of good red. You’ll be glad you made the effort.

All you need is…

3 tbs salted butter
¾ cup finely chopped shallots (substitute with onion if unavailable)
2 rashers bacon, finely diced (leave out if you avoid pork)
3 tbs flour
1½ cups Bordeaux-style red wine (see tips, tricks and trivia below)
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 large clove garlic, unpeeled and bashed open roughly
8 portobello mushrooms, finely sliced (substitute with white button if unavailable)
3 x 25g sachets beef demi-glacé concentrate (Woolworths stocks it, substitute with good quality liquid stock like Nomu’s beef fond if necessary)
1½ cups water
2 fresh bay leaves, leaves lightly bruised to help release its oil
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs flatleaf parsley
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¾ tsp salt

Fry the shallots in salted butter over low heat until soft. Add the bacon and fry for a further minute. Add the flour and stir through until it disappears. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Next add the carrot, garlic clove, mushrooms, demi-glacé and water.

Use string to tie the bay leaf, thyme and parsley in a bouquet garni bundle and place in the pot. Cover with a lid, turn the heat down to its lowest setting and cook gently for an hour. Check from time to time and give it a stir. If it gets too thick, your heat is too high. In this case simply add a few tablespoons of water to loosen the Bordelaise and turn your heat lower.

Remove the bouquet garni. Add the black pepper. Taste and add salt. (Note: The salt quantity provided in this recipe is adjusted for the Woolworths demi-glacé I used. If you use a different beef concentrate, you will have to adjust salt accordingly.)

For a very elegant sauce, pour the Bordelaise through a sieve to remove all the solid bits. For a more rustic sauce, leave the veggies in. This Bordelaise sauce can be made well in advance and simply reheated, so it’s perfect for entertaining.

It’s a dream with any beef or venison steak. It also elevates good old English beef Wellington to new heights. The man who thrashed Napoleon may turn in his grave – but really, nothing beats a good French sauce!




20 min


60 min


tips, tricks and trivia

What is a Bordeaux blend?

A Bordeaux-style wine is a blend of two or more of the five grape varieties allowed for in a red Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. (I specifically state RED Bordeaux because you do of course also get a white Bordeaux blend.) Each grape variety contributes something different to the wine, whether it be structure, smoothness, weight or colour.

Thus a Bordeaux blend focused on Cabernet and Cabernet Franc would tend to be a heavier wine with a fuller mouthfeel and more pronounced tannins, while a blend with Merlot as primary grape would generally be smoother and juicier. Petit Verdot and Malbec are used as blending partners, but in smaller percentages.


enjoy with

The secret to cooking with wine, is that it needs to be more than good enough to drink. At the same time, I do not relish chucking a R200 bottle of wine in a pot. Something in the middle is called for I think, and La Motte’s 2014 Millennium fits the bill.

The grapes for this Bordeaux-style blend come from four different wine regions in the Western Cape. At 56% it is very much Merlot driven, giving it a smooth raspberry juiciness. The 24% Cabernet Franc lends a lovely herbaceous note, while the 10% Malbec and 10% Petit Verdot add a hint of spice.

Best of all? At time of publication I can pick it up at my local Checkers at the fabulous cellar door price of just R75. I’ll raise a glass to that.

La Motte


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