Porcini Dusted Steaks with Pinot Noir

Image: Wild Table cookbook.  Linked for purchase info.Here’s a great recipe that takes riby-eye steaks (traditionally a Cabernet dish) and transforms it into one that pairs beautifully with Pinot Noir (purchase here).  Mushrooms and Pinot Noir have a natural affinity, and in this recipe mushroom flavors are brought to the table in three ways – infused into the steak, cooked and served on top of the steak, and infused into a butter served alongside or also on top of the steak.  I’d recommend using the butter as a finishing touch on any vegetables, or even to spread on any bread served along with this meal.

The recipe is from The Wild Table by Connie Green & Sarah Scott (2010 Viking Studio)  See this recipe in its original form at the Sierra Madre Vineyard site.  Purchase the Sierra Madre Pinot Noir here.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 4  8-ounce or 2 16-ounce rib-eye steaks (or other cut of choice), 1 ½ – 2” thick
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried porcini powder (just grind dried porcinis in your spice grinder/coffee grinder)
  • 1 pound porcini mushrooms, cleaned
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup Porcini Butter, softened (recipe below)
  • Fleur de Sel
  • Minced chives or flat-leaf parsley

Season the steaks generously all over with the salt and pepper and ½ teaspoon of porcini powder per steak. Refrigerate, loosely covered, overnight. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator one hour before cooking. 
Prepare a grill to medium heat.

Place the olive oil in a small bowl with the minced garlic. Slice the porcini mushrooms into ¼” thick slices. Place on a baking sheet and brush with the garlic-olive oil mixture on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. 
Grill the rib-eyes for 7-8 minutes per side, for medium rare (130 – 135 degrees internal temperature).  When done, divide the Porcini Butter among the steaks, spooning it on top and letting it melt into them as they rest. Hold the steaks in a warm place while grilling the porcinis. 

Place the porcini mushrooms on the grill (if too small to grill, I prefer roasting in the oven over sauteeing, as it results in a more even, almost crisp, mushroom) and grill for  2-3 minutes per side or until tender and golden brown.

Slice the steaks or serve them whole on plates or a platter, topped and surrounded by the grilled porcinis. Sprinkle the fleur de sel and minced herbs over the top.

Porcini Butter (makes approximately 1 cup):

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed to remove any fine sand or grit
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 sticks at room temperature
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried porcini powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

 

Place the dried mushrooms and the cold water in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes.  Saving the liquid, drain the mushrooms, pressing the mushrooms to extract all the liquid.  Return the liquid to a sauce pan over medium high heat. Reduce to 1 tablespoon.  Set aside.

Finely mince the re-hydrated mushrooms.

Place the 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until just melted, then add the minced mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and cook another 3 minutes until the garlic is softened, then stir in the reserved mushroom liquid and heat to a simmer.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Pour the mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor and process until very finely chopped,  stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the 2 sticks of softened butter, cut into 8 pieces, the porcini powder and the salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Pulse together until the butter is creamy and the mushrooms are evenly incorporated. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt or lemon juice as needed. The butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week and a half. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

Tips and Techniques:
Seasoning the steaks a day ahead allows time for the flavors to penetrate beyond the surface of the meat, giving them a more delicious taste when grilled.
The porcini powder gives a rich, deep brown crust to the steaks as they grill.
Allow the steaks to rest at least 6-8 minutes before serving for optimal tenderness and juiciness.

Substitutions and Variations:
Any cut of steak suitable for grilling can be substituted for the rib-eyes. Season them the same way, the day before, and grill according to the specific cut.
Grilled Portobello or crimini mushrooms can be substituted for the porcinis. Drizzle a little truffle oil over them just before serving.

Cabernet Sauvignon & Slow-Cooked Prime Rib

Standing Rib RoastA standing rib roast (AKA “Prime Rib”) is a classic dish for the Christmas Holiday, but I love it all winter long.  This recipe is a little time consuming (despite being quite easy to prepare) and it’s expensive, so if you’re like me, the risk of failure discourages this item from appearing on your home menu with regularity.

But Superwife and I have discovered a fool-proof method that perfectly renders your prime rib every time – nice and crusty on the outside, and moist and butter-tender on the inside.  The first thing to note is the most critical step occurs long before cooking actually begins – and this step is critical – you’ll need to dry your meat in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days, so plan ahead!

Ingredients (Serves 6 – 8)

1 Standing rib roast (~7 lbs).  Ask for the ‘First Cut’ or ‘Loin End’

1 Roll of Kitchen Twine (a food-grade string available in most good grocery stores)

Salt and pepper

A roasting pan and meat rack

Procedure

5 Days Before Serving – Buy your roast of choice.  Tie it with Kitchen Twine, looping the twine around the roast and in between each of the bones (see photo).  Dry the roast in your refrigerator for 3-5 days, if possible.  This adds flavor and makes the prime rib more tender.

7 ½ Hours Before Serving – Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature for three hours.  Trim excess fat and any bits of meat that are fully de-hydrated.

4 Hours Before Serving – Position oven racks so your roast can sits in the vertical middle of your oven.  Heat oven to 200 degrees (yes, trust me, this works perfectly and is safe and you’ll be thrilled with the result).  Wash the roasting pan and heat for three minutes over two burners on Medium-High.  Coat pan with olive oil and brown meat on all sides.  Season with salt and pepper.

In the pan, set the rack under the roast and place in oven.  Cook for 30 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 130 (for medium-rare) in its meatiest center.

30 Minutes before serving – Remove from oven and place roast on cutting board.  Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.  This step is critical.  The extra ten minutes are allocated for carving and plating.

Time To Serve! – Cut the string and place the roast on a cutting board with the bones sticking straight up.  Use a carving fork to push the meat away from the bones while using a carving knife to separate the bones from the meat – save them to gnaw on after your guests go home.  Rotate the roast until it is cut-side down then slice across the grain to desired thickness.

Cheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
dave@sidewayswineclub.com
866-746-7293

Merlot with Braised Beef Short Ribs

When this marinade and slow-cooking process are used on a cut of meat with lots of well-marbled fat and connective tissue (Flank or Top Round are also fine) the resulting flavor and mouthfeel are perfect for this wine.  I again employ my secret ingredient – vanilla – which echoes the flavor of the wine. It really works!

Note: This recipe originally appeared as an insert with my October, 2009 club shipment.  Click here to see wines that pair well with this recipe.

Ingredients

6 Lbs beef short ribs 4 Ozs dried cherries
¼ Cup flour ¼ Cup fresh Thyme sprigs
½ Cup olive oil, divided 4 Sage leaves, fresh
3 Cups chopped onion 3 Bay leaves
2 Cups chopped carrots 2 Cups Merlot (don’t use the good stuff!)
2 Cups chopped celery 4 Cups low-sodium beef broth
8 Cloves garlic, peeled 1-2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 scant tsp Vanilla

Procedure
Preheat oven to 300°.  Put ribs in large bowl and coat well with salt, pepper, and flour.  Heat a heavy Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat for ~4 minutes.  Add half the olive oil and brown ribs all over, working in batches.  Set browned ribs aside.

Add remaining oil to empty pot and, when hot, add the Mirepoix (the holy trinity of onion, carrot and celery).  Cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, dried cherries  and the herbs and combine well.  Deglaze the pot with the red wine then return ribs to the pot.  Bring to a simmer and reduce for about five minutes.  Add the broth, cover, and place in oven to braise until ribs are tender – check after two hours but plan for three.

Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes.  Remove ribs and set aside (try to keep them on the bone!), and remove Thyme sprigs and Bay leaves.  Pour remaining ingredients into a food mill (or pulse in a food processor six or seven times until finely chunked), then return to pot.   Spoon off any fat, season to taste with salt and pepper, then add balsamic and Vanilla.  Return ribs to sauce until warmed through, serve with extra sauce spooned over ribs.

Serving Suggestion: Stand the ribs upright in mashed potatoes, spoon remaining sauce over both, and serve with a side dish of sautéed spinach.

Happy MerchantCheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant

Note: This recipe originally appeared as an insert with my October, 2009 shipment to members of my “Grand Cru Selections” sampling program.

Click here to see my current inventory of wines that pair well with this recipe.

Cabernet Sauvignon & Grilled (Grass-Fed) Ribeye Steak

In June, 2009, this recipe was paired with the Sojourn Cellars ’05 Sonoma Valley Cabernet sent to members of our Grand Cru Selections sampling program.


SOJ Cab Sauv 05B 1-14-08 AgainAs I wrote the tasting notes for the 2005 Sojourn Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ($48) I began craving grilled steak.  I could practically smell the hot grill and hear the sizzle.  And got hungry!

We’ve recently started buying grass-fed beef, ever since my wife investigated the environmental and health impacts corn-fed cattle brought to large feed-lots.  I listened attentively as she taught me all about the downside of corn-fed beef, with the antibiotics they require in the over-crowded feedlots where they’re fattened up  just prior to their last moo.  It’s the sort of “Hey listen to this” reading that romantic married couples do for a few minutes before the lights go out and we retreat into our individual dream cycles.

After learning the dangers of commercial beef, I was looking forward to tasting  the healthier, more sustainable, and more expensive alternative.  I just want it to be at least as good as corn-fed beef, perhaps even tastier.  But my first few experiences with it were less than stellar.

You see, grass-fed beef is so much lower in fat that it must be cooked at a lower temperature and for shorter periods of time than regular beef.  We had been told this, but it proved difficult to overcome a lifetime of experience that had taught us exactly how long to leave a steak on the grill.   As a result, we over-cooked our first few efforts with grass-fed beef.  When grilling or pan-searing beef (high heat, short cooking time), it is best to use a New York strip or rib eye, as it comes from a more tender part of the cattle, and benefits from both bone and a layer of fat.  And fat, my friends, is  flavor!

The fat of grass-fed beef is more yellow than that of corn-fed beef, as grass provides a richer source of Vitamin A.  Its flavor will be more mineral-driven than the more iron (blood)-driven flavor of regular beef.

We also found considerable flavor differences among sources of grass-fed beef.  Terry, our butcher at the Real Foods Market,  carries a brand from Argentina that we didn’t find as tasty as the Prather Ranch brand we prefer.  So we invited him over for a taste-off – he brought his brand and we provided the Prather Ranch and all were grilled in an identical manner.  Every taster could tell the difference in flavor without hesitation, but as for which was preferred, there was no concensus.  So you may need to try different ranches before you find a favorite!

Ingredients
1 Grass-Fed Rib Eye Steak per person.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A good grill.  Mesquite or other hardwood chips add a nice layer of flavor, but I prefer my steak unadorned with extra filigree.  It’s up to you!

Procedure

Arrange your grill for high, indirect heat.  Grill your steak as you normally would, but muster every ounce of will power you can, and shorten the cooking time by a full minute per side.  Depending on the thickness of your steak, this might mean leaving it on the grill for only 2-3 minutes per side.

Serve with grilled corn on the cob and a side salad of fresh tomatoes with basil and balsamic and life won’t get much better.

Happy MerchantCheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com

Today’s Quote
“Red meat is not bad for you.  Now blue-green meat… that’s bad for you!”
~Tommy Smothers (American Comedian and Winemaker.  1937 – )