Father’s Day Steak and Homemade Steak Sauce

Grilled Steak
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With Father’s Day coming up my dad has been on my mind a lot. I lost him a long time ago, but he lives in my heart. There are so many funny stories and fond memories that always bring a huge smile to my face, but this is one of my favorites.

When my father was growing up during the Depression, food was scarce and his mother stretched her pennies as far as they could go. Thank goodness she was a wonderful cook (and I got to learn from her). When my dad graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and married my mother, times were challenging. World War II had just ended and the country was recovering. A young ensign in the Navy didn’t make much money so they scrimped and saved wherever they could, and that meant a lot of casseroles and cheap meats for dinner.

Homemade Steak Sauce & Grilled Steak; 2015, Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook
Char-Broil’s new Kettleman grill – a real beauty!















Four children later and still not making a lot of money, he changed course and became a stockbroker. Once again they were broke because starting out he had to find each and every one of his clients and work his way up the ladder. He spent many evenings at the office working late into the night to make a living and support all of us.

Of course we never knew we were poor – it was a fun and boisterous family with my three older brothers always creating mischief and hours of laughter around the dinner table each night.


As my dad’s career advanced, he became manager of the local brokerage office, running a team of highly successful brokers. He was finally making some good money and wanted to splurge. He wanted steak; big juicy tender steaks. He wanted them every night because to him it was the ultimate proof that he was successful.

He loved steak so much that he bought a barbecue and put it on the back patio of the office. He would buy beautiful cuts of meat and be out there happily grilling and making lunch for his team. There was always an excuse to celebrate and break out the barbecue.

I can see him at the grill, smoke billowing into the sky as he lit up enough briquettes for 100 steaks – moderation wasn’t his strong suit. He always had a big squirt bottle of water next to him and he invariably needed it because the fire was screaming hot and he always got flare ups. But it didn’t matter because he loved manning the grill. For years I thought all barbecued foods were supposed to be charred on the outside. Too bad they didn’t have TRU-Infrared technology in those days.

Homemade Steak Sauce & Grilled Steak; 2015, Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook

When I grew up, I knew that I could always please him when I pulled out my own grill and cooked up some steaks for us. Simply seasoned, we let the luscious flavor of the meat speak for itself. And when I had a chance, I would make us homemade steak sauce to jazz it up a little.

My dad loved my dinners and the sauce I made. It is zesty and a little sassy, just the way I like it. You can buy the bottled versions, but once you make your own, you’ll be spoiled. Start with my recipe and adjust it so it is perfect for you and your family. Recipes are guidelines so you can create your own masterpieces.

Homemade Steak Sauce & Grilled Steak; 2015, Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook

I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the men in your life this Father’s Day. Maybe some steaks on the barbecue and a pot of this sauce bubbling on the stove will be the way to make them feel special just like I did for my dad.

Happy Grilling! Use Promo Code B15JB at checkout to save $$$!

Perfectly Grilled Steaks and Homemade Steak Sauce


  • 4 T-bone, rib eye, New York strip or Porterhouse steaks
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grilled Vegetables (for the sauce)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds discarded, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Steak Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons red wine or champagne vinegar, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or water
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar (add 1 teaspoon more if using water instead of apple juice)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup ketchup?
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder, optional (use if you like a spicy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Season the Steaks: Place the steaks on a plate and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator uncovered - this helps the steaks dry out on the surface, making them brown better when they hit the grill. Pull them out 30 minutes before you are ready to cook to bring them to room temperature so they cook more evenly.
  2. Grill the Vegetables: Build a two-tiered medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to High for 15 minutes. If using a gas grill, lower half the burners to medium-low to create a cooler area and a hot zone.
  3. Lightly brush the onion slices and pepper halves on both sides with oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. There is no need to oil the garlic. Grill the onions, peppers, and garlic, turning often, until golden brown and softened, about 8 minutes for the onions and peppers and 10 minutes for the garlic. Move the vegetables on and off the cooler part of the fire to cook without burning. Note: I use a small onion so I halved it and grilled the cut sides.
  4. Make the Sauce: Remove the vegetables from the grill and let cool slightly. Slip the garlic cloves out of skins and transfer to a blender. Coarsely chop the onions and peppers and add to the blender, along with all the remaining ingredients. Puree until smooth, scraping the sides a couple of times (with the motor off) to be sure you don’t have any stray pieces.
  5. Transfer the puree to a non-stick or enamel-coated medium saucepan (do not use an un-coated metal pan because the acid in the tomato paste can pit the bottom). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often, or until slightly thickened and the flavors have blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Move off the heat to the back of the stove. (Store any unused sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.)
  6. Cook the Steaks: While the sauce is simmering, add some more coals to your charcoal fire or reheat the gas grill if needed. Lightly brush both sides of the steaks with oil, patting off any excess. Set them over direct heat and cook without moving until you have grill marks. If you try to turn the steak and it sticks, leave it alone for another minute. When it has seared properly it will release easily. Flip and cook the second side.
  7. Note: If your steak is searing quickly but not cooking through to the center as much as you want, move the steak to the cooler side of the grill, close the cover and let it finish at a lower temperature. This helps avoid getting the outside too dark while waiting for the center to reach your favorite degree of doneness.
  8. When the steak registers 125 degrees (for rare to medium rare) on an instant read thermometer inserted into the center through the edge of each steak, move them off the grill and onto a cutting board. Tent loosely with a sheet of foil and let rest about 10 minutes to let the steaks finish cooking. Serve with the steak sauce, passing additional sauce at the table.

Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook

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