HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Can I cook steak IN sauce

I'm not a big fan of grilled steak in general, even if it is a wonderful expensive cut.

My husband bought two Delmonico cut steaks from the farmer's market and is going to marinate his own in just some olive oil and balsamic and then pan sear.

But I made a pesto like salad dressing last night and had more than would fit in the bottle left so asked if I could marinate my own in the pesto sauce (thinner than a paste but not watery like a marinade). So my steak has been marinated in pesto and now I'm not sure how to cook it. The sauce is awesome and I'm not sure, even with 24 hours, if it will have flavored the meat at all. So I'm hoping that I don't have to get ride of the marinade and just pan sear.

Has anyone cooked a steak in sauce like you would poach a plain chicken breast in mushroom sauce? Or will I ruin a good steak?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. How much pesto sauce are we talking about? Unless it's too similar to grilling for you I'd broil it sauce and all.

    1 Reply
    1. re: letsindulge

      It's currently in a zip lock in at least a cup of sauce but I can easily get rid of most of that and just broil it with a good coating of sauce. I worried it would burn but if you don't think so, I'll try it.

    2. I would not do that to a steak. You have a tender cut. Why use wet heat?

      Edited to add...to answer your question....you CAN do it, but I wouldn't. Delmonico cut is not chicken breast.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        I guess because steak never seems tender to me even when it's tender (if that makes sense). Or maybe it's tender but just seems bland? I really only tend to enjoy super thinly sliced Mongolian style beef (which I know is probably made with a fatty cut and is saturated in salty sauce). I like other meat a lot but struggle with beef.

        1. re: chinaplate

          That's okay. Just because a prep method is unconventional doesn't mean you *can't* do it. Do what tastes good to you.

          Does tender beef not seem "tender" because you like some sauce with it, do you think? Maybe, for your tastebuds, saucy=tasty/tender?

      2. Honestly, I would dry it off now that the marinade has soaked in and grill it.

        1. I just found this link for you about grilling. It's an idea.


          1. Pesto's usually contain cheese. If there is cheese in your's it's probably going to make a bit of a mess when you try to pan sear the steak, The cheese will separate and the milk solids will become burnt before the steak is done cooking. I would rinse the steaks off (and pat them dry) to remove any excess cheese then put the extra sauce on afterwards.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Atomic76

              Ah, there is parm, in the pesto. The good news is that I did this only to my own steak. My husband wouldn't let me touch his. But I was worried about this kind of thing exactly.

            2. Steaks need quick cooking. Braising or poaching it will make it tough and yes, ruin it. Wash off the marinade, give it to your husband for his lunch, and eat something else if you don't like the cut.

              1. The traditional Italian-Neapolitan (and Italian American) steak alla pizzaiolo calls for a thinnish cut of beef to be cooked, sometimes without browning, in a "pizzaiolo" sauce made in a skillet by sauteeing a few whole cloves of garlic in good olive oil some dried hot red pepper, and then adding canned peeled plum tomatoes, crushed first by hand. Cook over moderate heat--no fast boils--until thickened, about 10 minutes, adding a fairly fat pinch of dried oregano and a little parsley, plus salt and pepper. You can first brown the meat, of course. This is not a high-end beef dish, but rather one meant to deal with cheaper cuts of meat.

                1. Try a sous vide method. Let us know the results please.

                  1. Well, you CAN, but the question is whether it is a good idea for a given sauce.

                    You can braise a chewy cut, such as London Broil, to good advantage. However a Delmonico steak is tender and long cooking will do bad things to it.

                    Sauces that work well as marinades usually have water-based acidic ingredients such as wine, vinegar or citrus juice. Over time, they get inside the meat and impart their flavor. The acid provides a counterpoint to the richness of the meat. It also may help tenderize it.

                    Pesto, on the other hand, has very little water in it. It is oil, herbs, nuts, and cheese, ground together. So marinading in pesto would not change the flavor of the insides of the steak very much if at all.

                    I looked around on EatYourBooks to see if I could find a recipe that marinaded beef steak of any kind in pesto and came up empty. On the other hand, I did find this recipe for flank steak that is cooked and served WITH pesto sauce as an accompaniment.


                    I hope this helps.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: PinchOfSalt

                      It does help. I googled it too and was coming up empty as well. Okay, I'm going to decide tonight to either rinse and say goodbye to the sauce (luckily since it was a dressing there was a good bit of water, maybe some did get in the meat) or risk it and slow cook my own in the sauce.

                      The point that I can gift a better cooked steak to my husband for lunch isn't lost on me :)

                      1. re: chinaplate

                        All that needs done is to wipe off the excess marinade off the steak and sear it. After the Steak comes out of the pan de-glaze with a bit of Wine or Water add your excess marinade to the pan and simmer briefly to create a small sauce.

                    2. I'm probably too late to the party, but since you like thin sliced Mongolian style beef, I'd slice the steak across the grain, 1/2 inch slices, get a cast iron skillet hot, and sear the slices. The pesto side won't directly hit the heat and you'll enjoy the texture you like. And maybe eat from different parts of the food chain in the future when steak is on hand.

                      1. Update: I cooked my husband's steak traditionally. Let an all clad skillet heat up in the oven while cauliflower roasted at high heat. Pulled the pan from the oven and put it over high head and seared the steak on both sides for 40 seconds or so and then put the steak under the broiler for about 2 minutes a side (pulled at 125).

                        For my steak, I did shake off the majority of the marinade but not all and added the steak to the pan only for the broiler portion of the cook (giving it an extra minute per side).

                        My husband's steak had a much nicer crust and the outside was nicely salted. The inside was less flavorful. My steak had a hint of pesto marinade, a softer less appealing outside but a more tender juicy center. (I don't know if mine was a touch thicker from the outset or not but I cooked them to the same temp so wonder if the moistness came from the longer marinade or having a wet coating).

                        My husband liked both. I liked mine a little more than his but in general still can take or leave steak.