The Big Idea: The big idea came when I pulled out a cookbook I haven’t looked at in a while – From Simple to Spectacular, by Jean-George Vongerichten (fancy restauranteur) and Mark Bittman (pre-How To Cook Everything, when he was only sort of famous.) It’s a neat idea for a cookbook – it takes a general idea, like stuffed tomatoes or poached pears, and then gives four variations, each based on the same technique but at increasing levels of fanciness. It was a gift once upon a time from a great cook I know (Thanks, Larry!) and I’m surprised I didn’t check out its steak ideas earlier.
This recipe for steak with red wine and garlic sauce is the first one in the “Steak with Sauce” section. Knowing I’d have some delicious sauce flowing around the plate, I wanted a side to soak it up with. had some parsnips and carrots in the fridge, and haven’t been roasting enough veggies recently, so that became the plan.
The Steak: I finally did it! I bought a roll of paper towels! I used them to thoroughly dry the steak before sprinkling it with salt and pepper and letting it rest while I worked on the side. Once it was ready for the pan and the pan was ready for it, I cooked it in butter using the Flip Once method. I got a good char on first side, but not as good on second side – perhaps because it didn’t cook on the second side for quite as long?
Once again, the Flip Once Method with Blood Drop Timing (TM)(for further details, see Steaks #8 and #9) produced a perfectly cooked medium-rare steak. I was actually trying this time, though, to both flip and pull the steak on the early side to produce something on the rarer side. of the flip-once method, but still came out on the medium side of medium rare. I flipped and pulled on the first definitive signs of blood drops, rather than waiting for them to be in all quadrants of the steak, but that didn’t seem to be quite enough. I’ll give it another try next time.
Once again, the steak rested on a wire rack tented loosely under tin-foil with a hole in it. Yum!
The Sauce: While the steak rested, I got to work on the sauce. The steak cooked in butter, but there wasn’t that much left in the pan, so I added a little more to cook the finely chopped garlic. The recipe called for 8 cloves of garlic for 1 ½ – 2 lbs of steak, which seemed like a lot, given that many of these recipes start with a single shallot. I decided to follow their proportions, though, and used four cloves. After it had cooked for a couple minutes, I added about a third of a bottle of syrah, turned up the heat, and let it cook down. As it cooked, I poured myself some of the remaining wine.
It got to a point where there wasn’t much left in the pan, and I didn’t want to be left without sauce, so I pulled it and added a splash more wine and a tablespoon more butter, as the recipe suggested. The sauce ended up delicious and rich, but I think it could have been thicker. Maybe I should have fearlessly left it on the burner just a little longer?
For the record, it didn’t end up being too garlicky at all – in fact, it wasn’t particularly garlicky, in the sharp way I usually think of garlic tasting. And by the time I finished the steak, I was glad I had all those veggies to wipe the plate clean with, because this was a good one.
The Side: In the vegetable department, winter gets a bad rap. True, most of the exciting things are gone and won’t be back for a long time, but that means that I pay attention to crops I otherwise tend to overlook, such as root vegetables. For this side, I chopped up parsnips, carrots, and sweet onions, mixed them together with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them for an hour or so at four hundred degrees. I like to let them go until the onions are sort of caramelizing and the veggie chunks are just a little chewy on the outside. That’s not a great description, but hopefully you know what I mean. It was a good side.
The Verdict: This was a good one! The red wine pan sauce idea reminded me a bit of Steak #2 – how far I’ve come in this project! Buying the bottle of decent red wine was worth it. The sauce went well with the side, and the steak was well cooked, if not precisely what I was going for.
Notes for Next Time:
- Have I discovered a potential drawback of blood drop method – less control over doneness?
- Would the sauce have thickened if I left it a bit longer, and become more syrupy? Or would there just have been less sauce, but still thin sauce? I’m already looking forward to my sauce studies once I’m done with steaks.