Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pan-Seared Spanish Steaks

I recently spent a lot of time researching wine clubs. I was interested in joining one because I wanted to spread my wings beyond my comfort zone. I have a pretty good knowledge of domestic reds and Italian wines from the Piedmont region, but there is so much more out there that I knew nothing about.

I started researching two of the most well-known wine clubs, The New York Times Wine Club and The Wall Street Journal Wine Club. As I got into it,  the Laithwaites Wine Club kept bubbling to the top. I had never heard of them, but the professional and customer reviews were extensive and very complimentary.

All of the clubs are priced about the same. Basically, once a quarter you get a case of wine for $150 (which means that each bottle runs a little over $12 each, which is quite a bargain). You can choose to have it be all reds, all whites or a mix of both. Wanting to learn more about reds, I opted for the all red plan.

The introductory offer was extraordinary: a case of world-class red wines for just $69.99. Now all of the clubs had similar introductory offers, but the reason I chose Laithwaites was that their reputation for offering exceptional wines was universal.  My first case arrived a couple of weeks ago and I opened the first bottle last night.

Each shipment includes an extensive review and analysis of the wines in the case. Every wine gets a two-page review that discusses the wine, the grape and the region. It also includes food pairing recommendations and actual notes from the wine maker. If you would like to know more about Laithwaites Wine, check out the link at the bottom of the page.

To fully understand and appreciate each of the wines, I am committed to prepare a meal indigenous to the wine region for each wine....and one that perfectly pairs with the wine. Last night we broke out a bottle of Pillastro Primivito 2011. It is the Italian version of Zinfandel. For the meal, I prepared tapas of cured meats, olives and cheeses from Puglia, Italy. The wine was absolutely remarkable and I intend to order a case of it.

The next bottle I am going to open from Laithwaites is a 2005 Las Barracas Gran Reserva from Catalunya, Spain. To pair with that wine, I am going to make this recipe of Pan-Seared Spanish Steaks. The pan-searing methodology is borrowed from Cook's Illustrated while the sauce is from the Food Network. The recipe serves two.  For a side, you can serve it with mashed potatoes. However, I prefer a Paleo version of "Mock" Garlic Mashed Potatoes actually made with cauliflower: Let steaks rest on counter one hour before cooking to bring them to room temperature.

2 bone-in ribeye steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick
Canola oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sliced Spanish olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450º (rack should be in the center) and place empty cooking pan (cast iron or steel) on center rack.
  2. Rub canola oil on the top of the steaks. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  3. After pan has heated for 30 minutes at 450º, turn a burner on top of stove to high. Using an oven mitt, remove pan from oven and place on burner. Sprinkle a little kosher salt in pan. Let it heat for five minutes.
  4. Drop steaks onto pan. Make sure steaks do not touch each other. Do not move steaks once they hit the pan. Sear for exactly 5 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes, flip the steaks in the pan and place the pan in the oven. Follow these times exactly:  for medium rare, remove pan after 5 minutes; for medium, remove after 7 minutes.
  6. Remove the steaks from the pan, place them on a cutting board and tent with foil. Let them rest until the sauce is ready.
  7. Turn stove burner to medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil, shallots and garlic to the still-hot pan and cook until they just begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and sherry vinegar and bring the sauce to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter until it has melted and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the olives. 
  8. Put each steak on a plate; spoon the sauce over the top and sprinkle with chives.

    Wine Pairing: Las Barracas Gran Reserva (Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon blend)

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