What’s cooking today: Fillet steak with burnt sage butter

What’s cooking today: Fillet steak with burnt sage butter
Tony Jackman’s fillet steak with burnt sage butter, served on a plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Sage and butter are one of the wonders of the world of flavour; few ingredients work such magic together. Add a bit of burn and it becomes divine.

The trick with a burnt butter is to know – to smell – when it’s just right. It attains a caramelly aroma, a certain nuttiness; it’s that moment when you salivate and think, I’ve got to eat that now.

But burn doesn’t mean burn, strictly; it’s that point when the butter, on a low heat, has started to burn, turned a (yes, caramel) hue, but beyond which you risk actually burning it and it taking on a charred flavour, which means you’ve gone too far. Leave the char for the meat on the grill or in the skillet. That’s good char. It’s a question of balance, as with so many things in the kitchen.

With this recipe, cook the steak to your liking, and finish it off with the delicious delight that is burnt sage butter. Of course, you can ignore the steak altogether and serve the sauce with grilled chicken, pork or even a hearty, firm fish such as kingklip or dorado. Burnt sage butter is also a winner with pasta parcels such as ravioli or tortellini.

(Recipe per 1 portion, so multiply as needed)


1 x 300 g fillet steak

12 sage leaves, chopped

4 Tbsp butter

Salt to taste

Black pepper

Sage leaves for garnish


Melt butter on a very low heat, add the chopped sage leaves, and let it cook very, very gently while the butter takes on the flavour of the sage. When the butter starts foaming, continue to cook, swirling the pan often. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.

Watch while the butter takes on colour, and identify that point when it is just right. Take it off the heat.

When your steak is cooked (or whatever you’re serving the sauce with), you can either remove the steak from the pan, add the burnt sage butter and quickly scrape up the flavour morsels at the bottom of the pan, or keep the sauce pure and serve it directly on the steak on the plate.

Sometimes a steak is better served with the sauce napped, in other words to one side and not covering the entire cut of meat, but with this sauce it’s best to smother it all over. Have some sage leaves to hand for garnish. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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