Steaks with Mushroom-Madeira Sauce


Do you plan your menu for the week? Do you have your grocery list down to the last ingredient? We rarely do. We couldn’t even stick to it because our taste and craving for food change so much. Our grocery shopping and cooking philosophy is: buy what looks good and fresh, is in season (and, therefore, has a good price), and we’ll think of something to make with them. This works well especially for its surprise factor, and creative and culinary freedom. We often decide what to cook once we’re right in front of the stove. Sometimes we see a sign on the street, a TV commercial, or a picture on a magazine, that would inspire the next meal. Our dishes really almost always starts from there.

That’s how it was for this meaty plate. The March 2008 Gourmet issue arrived the week we got some nice thin steaks. I saw the recipe for blade stakes with mushroom-madeira sauce and was lured by its simplicity: short cooking time and few ingredients. Sounds perfect for a weeknight!

I made this one night after we came home from our 90-minute Bikram yoga class. If you’ve ever been in one, I think you’ll understand what I mean when I say that there would be times when you’d want to eat — no, scarf down — a big plate of food immediately afterwards.

This was our delicious ‘reward’ after a long arduous workout:

Steaks with Mushroom Madeira auce

Yummy, yummy, yummy. We almost licked the plate clean. What’s more, it looked and tasted like it took a lot more time and effort than it really did. You can make it when you have guests over and not break a sweat. Love it!

The thin steak slices cut down the cooking time even more (such a bonus if you’re starving). We had leftover madeira, thanks to the herb crusted fillet of beef that we cooked for Christmas. I used fresh crimini mushrooms and white onion (instead of shallot). If you can believe it, these are the only main ingredients that you really will ever need. The madeira we have is decently priced (less than $10) and it works beautifully. You don’t have to get the priciest thing on the shelf, unless you have too much extra dough or feel like feeding the queen.

** Madeira substitutes: According to The Cook’s Thesaurus [bookmark that site, it’s good for you], you can use port (especially a dry port), Marsala, dry vermouth or sherry (especially a dry sherry), or stock (Either beef or chicken stock works well in meat-based sauces).

If you want some good-tasting steaks with sauce in less than 30 minutes, try making this. [Sorry, there’s no step-by-stop photo because we were in a mad rush to cook and eat.] Here’s the recipe:

Thin Steaks in Mushroom-Madeira SauceDownload the PDF recipe for Steaks with Mushroom Madeira Sauce
[adapted from the Gourmet March 2008 recipe, page 84.]


  • 1 1/2 pound beef eye of round steak , patted dry & cut into 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 7 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Madeira wine** (we used rainwater Madeira, medium dry)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper


1. Sprinkle meat slices salt and pepper. Toss together.

2. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Place meat in the skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered.

3. Add the remaining oil into the skillet, and onions. Sauté for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and sauté until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Add the wine, 1/4-teaspoon salt, and 1/8-teaspoon pepper and briskly simmer for 2 minutes. Mix in water and any meat juices from plate. Boil for 2 minutes.

6. Prepare cornstarch mixture, add to the skillet with mushrooms and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Pour sauce over the steaks before serving.

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  • dan
    March 24, 2008 2:10 pm

    Also, do not believe the bashing this dish is taking on This dish, when prepared properly, is divine!

  • March 24, 2008 2:19 pm

    Wow, you guys, this looks spectacular! We are so overdue for some steaks. It’s been all chicken and pork for a while now. I love the short list of ingredients, too–bonus!

    Elle’s last blog post..Garlic Shrimp, Chocolate Cake, and now I’m kicking myself for not making Easter Dinner!

  • March 24, 2008 4:22 pm

    I try to make a menu for the week and make a grocery list, but sometimes that is very difficult to follow because, like you guys, when I am at the market/store I see other things I rather have/eat/prepare and the menu changes right there.

    And that steak looks really good, I don’t eat much beef, maybe 4 times a year, but that mushroom sauce looks to die for! I am going to make it with chicken next week.

    Ben’s last blog post..Royal fish empanadas and coconut rice

  • March 24, 2008 6:07 pm

    At the risk of sounding like the pickiest eater on earth, that steak looks divine (without the mushrooms for me though lol), I just e-mailed it to my husband who loves both mushrooms and steak.

    Ada’s last blog post..Happy Easter

  • March 24, 2008 10:21 pm

    I’m the same way! I rarely plan my menus ahead of time, except for holidays. I just see what inspires me as I wander through the market. I am definitely inspired by this steak dish! It looks fabulous! My mouth is watering!

    Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy’s last blog post..Baking With Mom, Part 4: Dueling Easter Pies

  • joy
    March 24, 2008 10:34 pm

    Dan — Oh yeah, forgot about that. I was surprised by the bad reviews.

    Elle — Thanks! Hope you get to try it!

    Ben — Yeah, the menu plan goes out the window when we get to the grocery store. The sauce really is good. Chicken sounds like a good candidate, especially for white meat. It’ll get a good flavor. :)

    Ada — No worries! Don’t censor your food preferences. :) Dan’s a picky eater, too, and doesn’t like mushrooms. He had a few pieces from the sauce, though.

  • March 25, 2008 10:52 am

    The CAPTCHA I just had to complete said ‘feast’. This is very apt for this recipe, those mushrooms look extremely yummy. Thanks for yet another winner, again this one is headed for the family recipe book. If you keep this up I will have to start paying royalties on all the recipes I am using.

    arnold’s last blog post..Internet security

  • March 25, 2008 11:54 am

    i’m the same way with shopping! pick up some basic proteins, get whatever produce is looking good, grab whatever pantry staples have been used up, and i’m good to go.

    i almost made this exact same thing last night, but with chicken instead of beef. i have other dinner plans tonight, but i now know what’s for dinner tomorrow!

    michelle @ the smackdown’s last blog post..When life gives you lemons, make orzo with goat cheese and spring veggies.

  • March 25, 2008 3:05 pm

    Jeezus that looks good Joy! I love steak and mushrooms, such a killer combination!

    Hillary’s last blog post..Kicking the Wintertime Blues

  • March 25, 2008 3:16 pm

    I get hungry just looking at your pictures! That steak is calling my name…

    Jennifer Robin’s last blog post..Reading is Fun-damental

  • March 25, 2008 7:41 pm

    That steak with the mushroom sauce looks so good!

    Kevin’s last blog post..Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

  • March 25, 2008 7:51 pm

    We need to come over for photography lessons… and some food…

    Great stuff you guys.

    I rarely use cornstarch unless frying or doing Asian sauces. I might try using a little cornstarch slurry for my steak sauces and see what happens.


  • joy
    March 26, 2008 10:36 am

    Susan — Go and try it! :-)

    Arnold — Thanks. I’ll send you the bill! Haha.

    Michelle — Thanks for dropping by! Let me know if it tastes good with chicken!

    Hillary — Thanks! Yeah, I love that combo, too. This is a nice ‘light’ sauce when compared to the creamy counterparts.

    Jennifer Robin — Haha. Go ‘steak’ your claim!

    Kevin — Thanks!

    Rowdy — We’ll all end up just eating. :) thanks! I realized we’ve never used cornstarch for steak sauces prior to this recipe, too.

  • May 25, 2008 8:50 am

    watching the pic make me hungry

    4b1Ls last blog post..Internet Axis Unlimited

  • John Drummond
    January 3, 2010 8:35 am

    I’ve never made this particular sauce, but I’ve looked up a bunch of other recipes of the same and it seems that your one missing ingredient according to some ” historic” descriptions is a lot of crushed black pepper.
    They descrbed it as a “peppery sauce”. Thanks!

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