As the weather gets cooler this fall in Southwest Virginia, I am enjoying creating food and wine pairings using the herbs and spices so popular this time of year. One spice I love is pepper, both traditional black peppercorns and the more unusual pink peppercorns (dried berry of the shrub Peruvian peppertree – they are called pink peppercorns because they have a peppery flavor) . I also love grilled steak. So putting peppercorns and steak into one dish is like heaven to me.
I received a lovely bottle of Zinfandel 2018 Lodi from my friends at Cameron Hughes which gave me an excuse to make a famous French steak dish – Steak au Poivre.
Cameron Hughes is a California vintner who has hacked the code on sourcing expensive wines on the cheap. As a wine trader, Cameron Hughes doesn’t own vineyards or a winery — his focus is on purely sourcing the best wines and negotiating the best price. Once acquired, the wines are bottled under the Cameron Hughes label and then offered at a fraction of the original price.
I enjoyed pairing this lovely ruby red wine with my Steak au Poivre. Notes of plum, raspberries, soft leather and earth framed by soft, velvety tannins. It complemented the pepper in the steak by being fruit-forward but not overpowering, with a nice dry finish.
This could easily become your house red wine at only $13 per bottle.
Steak au Poivre
recipe source: Epicurious.com
- 4 (3/4- to 1-inch-thick) boneless beef top-loin (strip) steaks (8 to 10 oz each)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns (I added some pink peppercorns to the mix)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1/2 cup Cognac or other brandy
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 200°F.
- Pat steaks dry and season both sides with kosher salt.
- Coarsely crush peppercorns in a sealed plastic bag with a meat pounder or bottom of a heavy skillet, then press pepper evenly onto both sides of steaks.
- Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately high heat until hot, about 3 minutes, then add oil, swirling skillet, and sauté steaks in 2 batches, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.
- Transfer steaks as cooked to a heatproof platter and keep warm in oven while making sauce.
- Pour off fat from skillet, then add shallots and half of butter (2 tablespoons) to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until shallots are well-browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add Cognac (use caution; it may ignite) and boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices accumulated on platter and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over low heat, swirling skillet, until butter is incorporated. Serve sauce with steaks.
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