The Unexpected Condiment That Will Elevate Your Steak

The debate of whether or not to sauce a good steak can be a polarizing subject. Many a gourmand insists that if a steak is of good quality and cooked to perfection, no sauce is needed, or will, in fact, take away from the inherent flavors of the meat. Per Steak Enthusiast, asking for steak sauce in a restaurant might get you booted out! Of course, commentators and outlets are usually referring to the ubiquitous dark, tangy sauce known as A1. But, when you think about it, iconic steak houses all over the country will offer to add sauces such as Bearnaise or Peppercorn to diners' expensive steaks. Sam Sifton at The New York Times suggests Bearnaise sauce "improves virtually everything it touches."

For those who welcome a pop of flavor to ribeyes and filets, there is no shortage of sauce options. Food & Wine suggests sauces like aioli, chimichurri, and gremolata to up your steak game. Most of these sauces err on the side of savory, and why shouldn't they? Steak, after all, is the epitome of umami-goodness. But looking back on A1 Sauce, one will find a number of sweet ingredients like molasses, apples, and raisins, per The Manual. While the sauce may be declining in popularity, it clearly has staying power. After all, it has been around since the early 1800s. So perhaps there is something to say about a little sweet with your steak. 

Pump up the jam

A great sauce will hit all the flavor buttons: sweet, tangy, salty, and savory. The perfect sweet in this equation may be jam. When most people think of jam, they consider a fruit spread that is slathered on buttered toast or paired with peanut butter. What makes it great for steak besides the sweetness is that it already has a bit of built-in tang from the fruit it is made with. While this might seem like a new concept, Americans have actually been jamming up their meat for ages in the form of turkey and cranberry sauce.

What type of jam is best for beef steaks? Think dark fruits like blackberries and cherries, which would also be great with venison. The Kitchn suggests apricot for pork and orange marmalade for chicken. The concept of a great jam steak sauce isn't to dollop a spoonful of straight jam onto your meat. Incorporating it into other items most people have in their fridges and pantries is the key. The Kitchn suggests combining a little minced garlic and onion, a 10-ounce jar of jam, a splash of vinegar, and a few pinches of spice. Let it cook for about 15 minutes and adjust seasonings to taste. 

But if you're still a little wary, and need baby steps before you make the jump to jam, consider some delicious savory jams instead like Burnt Onion Jam or Tomatillo Jam. These sweet-but-savory sauces will be a perfect topper to a delicious steak.