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Steak Dinner, a la Mama

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After a week-long blogging hiatus due to traveling, I bring you some recipes from the kitchen of the best chef I know, my mother. I was back East in NY last weekend to see my family, play with the new-ish puppy, and go to a Bachelorette party for my best friend from high school. Aside from the slightly debaucherous but awesome Bachelorette party, it was a great weekend, filled with delicious food and wine (of course) and even a traditional lobster dinner at my parent’s beach club – which I had been craving for the last couple of months. There’s nothing like grilled fresh East Coast lobster with drawn butter and twice-baked potato. Le sigh.

But the real meal of the weekend was my mother’s steak dinner on Thursday. With the company of my dear “aunt and uncle”, my brother and my parents, we feasted on a meal of grilled aged sirloin, sauteed mushrooms, broccolini, and roasted new potatoes paired with some top-notch reds from my father’s collection: 2001 Turnbull Estate Grown Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001 Tenuta La Fuga Brunello di Montalcino, and 2005 Whitehall Lane Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Turnbull was probably my favorite wine of the night, and it paired perfectly with the delicious steak. A very smooth wine, it had a great mouthfeel with subtle plum flavors and a little chocolate. It wasn’t too tannic, but I’m sure the age and the decanting helped.

The Brunello was a little musty, but still pretty good. The nose had some tobacco and there was lots of cherry on the mouth. Overall a good wine, but maybe should have been drank a year or so ago.

The Whitehall Lane cab was another great pick for the grilled sirloin… big and jammy with mild oak tones, but could have used a little more acid.

Cabernet Sauvignon often seems like the obvious choice when pairing wine with steak, and for good reason. The smooth tannins, dark fruit, and slight acidity bring out the juicy flavors and smokiness in grilled meat. Depending on the type of steak you use, there are some other red wine options to consider. For a grilled sirloin, I would stick to the Cabernet, or try a big Bordeaux. With rib-eye opt for a Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, Syrah or super Tuscan. For a medium-rare fillet, try something a little softer like a Pinot Noir or red Burgundy. One thing’s for sure, go big and splurge a little when pairing wine with steak, because the minor wines aren’t worth it.

Now that I’ve wetted your palate a little, I’ll go into the food portion of the dinner. When grilling steak you should always have a good marinade or rub. If marinating, you can do it for 30 minutes before grilling, or overnight. I usually just combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 TB Worcestershire sauce, 3 TB minced garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp onion powder. For a rub (like the one my mother used on this aged sirloin), applying it 1-2 hours before grilling is fine. Here is my mother’s steak rub recipe:

In a food processor, combine:

  • 3 cloves of garlic (chop these first, then add remaining ingredients)
  • 1 TB cumin
  • 1 TB coriander
  • 1 TB hot paprika
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
The rest is up to the grill master (in my family’s case, my father). In your case, grill to your liking – about 6-8 minutes on each side – then cut against the grain and serve on a platter with a slight dip to collect the juices.

No steak dinner is complete without the perfect side dishes… some crunchy greens, a good starchy carb like potatoes, and another earthy vegetable that complements the flavors in the steak – like mushrooms. Broccolini is in season right now, and it’s one of my favorite vegetables. With the sweet taste of broccoli and asparagus and the crunch of Chinese chard, it’s best if you steam it first, then saute in a little olive oil with chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with some lemon zest to add a bit of fresh acid flavors.

I love the mushrooms that my mother makes, and even more so I love them with sirloin. I even pile them on top of the steak and eat them together. You can just use some thinly sliced white caps for this recipe. Saute them over low heat in a little bit of olive oil for about 20 minutes, until the juices from the mushrooms evaporate. Add salt, white pepper and dried thyme to taste and continue to saute. My mother also adds a little bit of dry sherry and butter at the end. They’re delicious!

Last but certainly not least, the roasted new potatoes. These bad boys melt right in your mouth. But be careful, they’re hot! I usually eat them by cutting them in half or in quarters first, then I pour some of the extra sauce over them. You only need about three little guys to compliment your steak meal, so for a group of 4-6 people you should get about 15 small new potatoes. Here is the recipe:

  • 2 pounds small new potatoes (about 15)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • sea salt to taste
  • white pepper to taste
  • Fresh herbs, like parsley or chives

Scrub the potatoes and arrange them in a pot in a tight, single layer. Add the chicken stock, cover the pot, and cook the potatoes over high for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated. You have to watch closely because if the stock completely evaporates then the potatoes will burn. Lower the heat, add the butter, and cook the potatoes (covered) for 10 minutes, stirring often. Test the potatoes for doneness. They should be tender, but not mushy. Sprinkle the potatoes with the salt, white pepper and herbs, and serve.

There you have it, folks… the perfect steak dinner, complete with a few different wine options – because in my family, you always need about one bottle per person. And not to guarantee a good buzz (though, there’s nothing wrong with that), but to guarantee some good options. Everyone has an opinion of what they like and don’t like, especially at my mother’s dining room table.

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a food and wine lover residing in Napa, California, where she does marketing for a boutique wine collective. She previously lived in San Francisco for over six years, where her blogging journey began. She loves to cook seasonal meals and experiment with new wine pairings. She has been drinking and learning about wine with her father since she was 14, and cooking in the kitchen with her mother since she was 6. Both of her parents taught her well about seasoning and flavors, and she continues to learn more with every meal that is made.

One response »

  1. John Morrison

    You got it right, Kels! One of the favorite meals at our home, and this particular one was really fun. The wine that Kelsey mercifully did not mention was the 1994 Viader- a great wine when it is on and a corked wine that night…. I agree with Kelsey- the great American food/wine combo is napa cab and grilled steak. Get high quality aged steak and pull out your best napa cabs. If you have a cellar, youngish cabs (the 05 Whitehall Lane) are excellent, but 10-15 year old napa cabs really shine with grilled steak. Napa cab and grilled steak- my desert island meal.


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