How Do You Cook YOUR Steak? Or, Helping Alex Recover from the National Half-Marathon with Filet Mignon and the 2001 Arrowood “Le Beau Melange” Syrah

23 Mar

While waiting for my dinner to cook (just some spaghetti, pre-made alfredo sauce, and a frozen seafood mix from Trader Joe’s) I’d like to write about YESTERDAY’s dinner: filet mignon served with steamed fingerling potatoes tossed with leeks and goat cheese.  To wash this down was a fair amount of the 2001 Arrowood “Le Beau Melange” Syrah from Sonoma Valley.  Altogether, a great meal.

le-beau-melangeThe impetus for this meal was a half-marathon Alex ran the previous day–the National Half-Marathon–as practice for the true full marathon he was planning on running in early May.  He did very well, coming in I believe 74th out of hundreds if not thousands.

The wine was to help celebrate; the steak was to help him recuperate.

True to form, Alex and I had a bit of the Arrowood before dinner–it got us crunk.  At 15% alcohol, this one was a heavy hitter.  However, it didn’t taste hot, nor was it too big and bold for our tastes.  It reminded me of one of my favorite wines–the Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Domaine La Roquete.  However, THAT wine, being from Southern France, was made primarily of grenache, while the Arrowood was composed of syrah.  It felt more like a “French” wine–apparently, too, Le Beau Melange is Arrowood’s Rhone-style offering.  It succeeds despite the higher alcohol content.  Australian shiraz it ain’t.

Powerful it was.  Dang.  Only after about three or four ounces each our heads were spinning.  We decided to table the rest till dinner.

Ah–dinner.  I purchased some filet mignon from Trader Joe’s.  What to make with it?  Alex bought some leeks, and I had some fingerling potatoes.  We had some goat cheese.  Ah.  Taking a recipe from Jose Andres (of Jaleo and Oyamel fame) which called for Spanish onions to be cut into slices and fried in vinegar, I decided to slice the leeks into round pieces, fry them in a bit of apple cider vinegar and then, when the vinegar steamed off, some olive oil.  Then, I added the sliced steamed fingerlings, a bit of salt, and some crumbled goat cheese.  This I used to top off the steaks.  It was delicious–definitely something I’ll do again.

But the steaks!  This is the important part.  At home we cook our thicker steaks as such: first, a coating of pepper and salt, then a sear on both sides and the ends in a cast-iron skillet.  We then put the steaks into a hot oven to finish ’em off.

There are so many ways to cook steaks, and everyone has their own preference.  First, I marinated the steaks in olive oil, red wine, diced garlic, pepper, and–lacking thyme–some rosemary.  I decided to buck family tradition and, per “America’s Test Kitchen,” do the exact opposite: I put the steaks in a 275-degree oven for 20-ish minutes.  The internal temperature of the meat at the end of that period got to about 100 degrees.  Then, I transferred the steaks to a HOT cast-iron skillet and let them sear.  Time in the pan was total about 4 minutes.

I let the steaks rest a bit while I assembled the potatoes and leeks, and when everything was ready I topped off the steaks with a bit of salt and the potato/leek combination.

Quite delicious, if I might say so myself.  The ATK method worked extremely well–the steaks were uniformly medium-rare on the inside and had a great char.  The potatoes and leeks, with a bit of acidity from the vinegar and cheese, were a wonderful complement to the steaks.

And the Arrowood syrah?  Amazing, and it didn’t hit us as hard (obviously) with the food.  The steak brought out some pepper in the wine, Alex noted, and the wine seemed a bit rounder with the fat.

I will be replicating this meal in the future.  The syrah, at $32.99, is a bit pricey for my tastes, but I think it’s absolutely worth it.

I end on a question: what is your favorite method of cooking a steak?  And what do you like pairing with it?

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6 Responses to “How Do You Cook YOUR Steak? Or, Helping Alex Recover from the National Half-Marathon with Filet Mignon and the 2001 Arrowood “Le Beau Melange” Syrah”

  1. Shea March 28, 2009 at 5:56 am #

    “powerful it was” – sounds like a yoda style wine tasting. And, don’t diss the Aussie shiraz – clearly you need to taste some stuff from Victoria. The big over-ripe jammy stuff is really only the big-media tip of the iceberg of what is available from there.

  2. Shea March 29, 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    P.S. I went to La Note – awesome eggs there, they really know how to make an omelette. And their coffee is fantastic.

  3. vinicultured March 29, 2009 at 9:41 pm #

    Hey Shea,

    Philosophical it makes me, wine. On Dagoba not good it is for wine.

    I am not dissing Australian shiraz per se, sir. In fact, some of my favorite wines are Australian shiraz: the Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Ridge shiraz and the Charles Cimicky “Trumps” grenache/shiraz blend. Perhaps I should have been less partisan in this particular posting!

    I am glad you went to La Note. It is hands down one of my favorite places in Berkeley. Their coffee and lattes are great, too. I have to write more about Berkeley on your behalf, but I have a suspicion you are doing more than well enough without my recommendations!

  4. Shea March 29, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    I had the Mocha Latte, which was perfectly made – no sweet syrupy chocolate, just dusty bitterness that complemented the coffee perfectly.

    I would be very curious to hear your take on a shiraz from Western Australia or Victoria – both of which are producing some pretty fantastic stuff. Yeringberg comes to mind as a fantastic producer in Victoria. And something from Margaret River or Great Southern for Western Australia. Cimicky is good, but I’d also recommend checking out Peter Lehmann’s “The Mentor” from Barossa (a Bordeaux style blend). I think it’s around $25, but well worth that price – tastes like a bottle worth $40.

  5. vinicultured March 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    Indeed: I’ve not had much else in Australia outside of the Barossa. I was thinking that a good wine tasting idea would be a huge affair of syrah/shiraz from different regions. Perhaps another wine tasting, more focused, would be on the shiraz of Australia.

    I’ll have to look out for “The Mentor”–I believe I’ve seen it around but haven’t had the chance yet to pick it up. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Shea March 31, 2009 at 1:07 am #

    I actually think the best way to go about it is to get a sense of various regional styles, and then do a comparative tasting between regions. That way you understand the variation at the more local level before that of the global comparison. Otherwise, one can form false biases and misimpressions.

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