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.

Steak “au Poivrade” – Cracked pepper sauce (easy)

Sometimes one must eat dinner alone, though I must admit I don’t care to.  To offset such misfortunes, I turn solo meals into a treat with a recipe that’s satisfying but easy enough to justify cooking for one. This is such a dish, a favorite from my bachelor days.  But please don’t feel compelled to save it for a night on your own – it works just as well for two.  Or a crowd.

There are two keys to success here.  A heavy pan (a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is ideal) and freshly ground peppercorns.  I recommend green peppercorns here, as they are significantly milder than their black counterpart, and won’t fight the wine.  If black peppercorns are all you have, use half the amount called for.  And while steaks are welcome at my house in all seasons, the backbone of mild heat that runs through this sauce will warm the cockles of the coldest Winter-chilled heart!  A great cold-weather dish.  (Image from Shawna’s Food Blog – click to find another recipe for comparison)

Ingredients

1 Steak / person (about ¾ pound if bone-in)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Shallot – minced
¼ Cup cognac (or red wine, in a pinch)
¼ Cup red wine
2 tsps green peppercorns, roughly smashed
1/3 Cup cream (or a bit less, with a good pat of butter whisked in at the end)
Salt & freshly-ground pepper to taste

Procedure
Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat for several minutes.  Season the steak with salt & pepper and prepare your ingredients.  Remove pan from heat, add oil and quickly tilt to coat evenly.  Return to heat and add steak – do not move until it is time to flip!  Cook to preferred doneness, remembering the meat continues cooking after removing it from the pan.  Cover and place in warm oven.  (Alternatively, grilling the steak adds nice complexity)

In the pan, adjust the fat so there is a scant tablespoon.  Add the minced shallot and sauté a few minutes until lightly browned.  Pour in cognac and deglaze the pan. Add the red wine, raise heat to med-high and reduce liquid by ¼.  Add the peppercorns and whisk in the cream.  Reduce sauce until it coats the back of a spoon.  Whisk in cold butter, if using, and serve as desired – this sauce is nice whether served as a base, a topping or on the side.  And don’t under-estimate its deliciousness when used to top potatoes or steamed vegetables!

Wine Pairings – Pair this with bold reds such as Zinfandel, Syrah, Rhone blends or new world Cabernets or Bordeaux blends.

Nacho Mama Surprise – Guest post

Part of my meandering career path found me in Chicago for several years, where I came across a direct marketing wiz named Elizabeth “Sunny” Heyer.   Little did I know she was also known as Naco Mama.  Here’s why.

Here’s a different take on nachos . . .  I used to make this when I lived in Boulder . . .from leftovers initially.  Take a baking dish and line with refried beans – a thin layer . . . then make ‘stripes’ across the beans using everything and anything that’s left over.  We started with a small piece of steak from a doggy bag, sliced, it made our first stripe.  Then we laid down some slices of leftover chicken next to it, then a stripe of sour cream, then a stripe of salsa, then some chopped veggies (any kind will do), and then… you get the drift!! One layer was different types of olives, then peppers – roasted or chili . . . depends on your taste. Once we added a stripe of rice and topped the whole dish with shredded jack cheese.  It’s fast, easy and you can put anything in it . . . I added cubed tofu to the rice and no one was the wiser – given that it was a meat eating, sprout stompin’ crowd.

Pop it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes and serve with chips on the side . . . or spoon it directly into the mouth. . .  I named it ‘Nacho Momma Surprise’  and it became a huge hit at parties . . .

I always had it with wine. . . but it goes well with beer too!

Thanks Sunny!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

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 – )