Steak sauce in a ramekin

If you’ve never asked for steak sauce, it could mean that you’ve had some pretty spectacular cuts of meat in your day, and you didn’t feel the need to ask for a condiment. Steak sauce was ultimately created to mask the taste of poor cuts of beef, and it does a great job. Its thick consistency coats beef and has the ability to compliment yet slightly overpower the flavor of the meat you’re consuming.

According to Let’s Look Again, Henderson William Brand was the mastermind behind A1 sauce. As King George the IV’s personal chef, he invented sauces like "Essence of Chicken," "Essence of Beef," and eventually "Brand’s International Sauce," which was then renamed "A1." The sauce is tangy with a similar savory flavor to Worcestershire sauce and a touch of sweetness. So, where does that sweetness come from? A secret to the sauce is that it contains dried fruits, with one in particular –- raisins.

The sweetness in steak sauce comes from raisins

Raisins in ramekin

According to Portable Press, raisin paste has always been a necessary ingredient in steak sauce, dating back to the 1820s when Brand’s sauce first came out. Not only do raisins provide a depth of flavor and candy-like sweetness that white sugar cannot while also acting as a thickening agent to the sauce for easier clinging to meat, but they also contain antioxidants. When those antioxidants come in contact with beef, it actually slows down the decaying process and masks the taste of declining beef. This was necessary back in the day when refrigeration was hard to come by, meat production was much slower, and the beef quality was much lower. Therefore, beef sauce was an essential condiment for the table in order to enjoy your cut of meat.

America’s Test Kitchen states that if you’re wanting to make your own steak sauce at home, it’s best to steep raisins in boiling water until plump, as this will not only allow for easier blending but add viscosity for a thick sauce just like you see in the bottle.