RECIPE: James Martin’s BBQ steak with whisky-braised onions

Steak with whisky-braised onions and mustard sauce? What’s not to love?“Every chef becomes obsessed with certain ingredients at some point in the year and right now, my obsession is onions,” says chef James Martin, who features this recipe in his Islands To Highlands series.

Steak with whisky onions picture: Quadrille/Peter Cassidy/PA.


(Serves 2)

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4 onions, peeled

50ml whisky

600ml beef stock

100g salted butter

1 garlic clove, crushed

A few pine sprigs, washed and patted dry

1–2tbsp olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

400g rump steak, 5cm thick

150g long-stem broccoli

For the sauce:

2tbsp Scottish grainy mustard

½tsp English mustard

2tbsp salted butter

25ml whisky

75ml double cream


If using, light your BBQ. When the coals are silvery in colour, it’s ready to cook on.

Place the whole onions in a pan with the whisky and beef stock. Cover and bring to the boil then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 40 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the onions out of their cooking liquor and set aside to cool a little. Reserve the liquor.

Meanwhile, place the butter, garlic and pine sprigs into a separate pan and place over a low heat to melt the butter.

If not cooking on the BBQ, preheat a griddle pan over a high heat. Cut the onions in half horizontally, then drizzle over the oil and season well. Cook on the griddle pan or on the BBQ, flat-side down, for a couple of minutes until charred. Lift onto a plate and set aside.

Season the steak all over, then brush with some of the melted pine butter. Cook on the hot griddle pan or on the BBQ for two minutes, then brush with more butter, flip over and cook for another two minutes.

Add the long-stem broccoli to the pan or BBQ for the last two minutes of cooking, again brushing with pine butter. Lift the steak onto a board and rest for four minutes.

To make the sauce, put both types of mustard in a pan with one tablespoon of the butter and 200ml of the reserved onion cooking liquor. Pour in the whisky, then flambé to burn off the alcohol, tipping the pan gently and carefully to ignite. Place over a medium heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, then stir in the cream and season well. Whisk in the remaining one tablespoon of butter to finish.

Slice the steak into 3cm thick slices and place on a platter with the broccoli, then spoon over the sauce. Pull the onions into petals and dot around before serving.

James Martin’s Islands To Highlands by James Martin, photography by Peter Cassidy, is published by Quadrille, priced £25.