These two interesting meat sautes are adapted from “A Flash in the Pan” (Chronicle, 2003), a cookbook of one-skillet recipes I wrote with Melanie Barnard.

We always tried to include suggested accompaniments – a feature that people seemed to appreciate.

Skillet Sweet and Sauerbraten

A take-off on the long-marinated and long-simmered German classic, this skillet version uses vinegar for the pleasantly sour notes and crushed gingersnaps for the sweet – plus the cookies help thicken the sauce. Round steaks can turn tough if cooked beyond the rare stage, so be sure to just barely sear the meat. Serve with buttered egg noodles tossed with poppy seeds and sweet and sour red cabbage.

Serves 4

4 tablespoons olive oil


1-1/2 pounds thinly sliced round steaks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf, broken in half

1/4 cup crushed gingersnap cookies

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice


1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. (If pan is not large enough to hold steaks in a single layer, use two skillets.) Season steaks with salt and pepper, add to pan and cook until seared on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate, leaving drippings in the pan. Reduce heat to medium.

Add onion and bay leaf to pan drippings and cook, stirring often, until onion softens and begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Add crushed cookies and allspice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in broth and cook, whisking often, until sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Return meat and any accumulated juices to sauce and simmer just to heat the meat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made up to 2 hours ahead and held at cool room temperature. Reheat gently. 

Lamb Medallions with Garlic, Capers and Mint

Lamb has become pricey indeed, but this sauté of tender, buttery, flavorful boneless lamb is so delicious that it’s worth it as a special occasion dish. (I actually prefer sautéing to roasting because the timing on a roast can be so tricky.) Serve this to guests with oven roasted new potatoes and steamed asparagus, preceded or followed by a salad of field greens sprinkled with goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Creme brulee topped with fresh berries would make a lovely finish.


Serves 4

1-1/2 pounds boneless rack of lamb (sometimes called the loin), cut into ½-inch-thick rounds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, divided, plus sprigs for garnish

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped


1 large plum tomato, seeded and diced

1 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons butter, cut into about 8 pieces

3 tablespoons drained capers

Use the palm of your hand to flatten lamb into ¼-inch medallions. (Or place between sheets of plastic wrap and flatten with the bottom of a small heavy pot.) Season on both sides with salt and pepper and sprinkle with half the mint, rubbing it into the meat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (If pan is not large enough to hold meat in a single layer, use two skillets.) Add lamb and cook until well browned on both sides but still pink within, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate, leaving drippings in the pan.

Add garlic and diced tomato to pan drippings and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced by about half, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in remaining mint and add the butter, whisking until it melts into the sauce. Stir in capers.

Return meat to sauce to warm briefly. Serve garnished with mint sprigs. 

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

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