I have spent a lot of time learning about wine, and enjoying it. But food? Well, certainly, I have spent a good deal of time eating good food, but I am certainly no expert preparing it.
Nevertheless, going forward, the focus of the column will be to take a look at some good dishes, and to suggest some wines that might suit them well. I hope to share with you some of the favourites from our household, and to reach out into the community to both good home chefs as well as professionals so that we can identify good accessible dishes.
By “accessible”, the dishes should be something that the average person could create without elaborate preparation, made with ingredients that are fairly easy to find.
I hope you enjoy what is to come, and I welcome your suggestions and observations as we contemplate good things to eat. As for wine, I will be making suggestions, recognizing that tastes differ. As always, drink what you enjoy. When it comes to the perfect match, it seems that if you ask 6 different wine experts, you can very easily get 6 different answers. And they would all be good.
I will continue to bring other wines to your attention, as they find their way into our stores and eventually to our tables. I hope you enjoy the exercise.
Finally, with the arrival of good summer weather, the backyard grills are going to get lots of use. Last week, we tried something a little different – Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce.
Flank Steak is a very lean and flavourful cut of beef which comes from the side of the animal below the loin. It is perfect for grilling, but needs to be marinated first for best effect.
In addition, it is important to prepare the meat to absorb the marinade by either piercing it generously with a fork, or by scoring it on both sides with a sharp knife, making shallow, quarter-inch cuts across the grain, about an inch apart.
There are many marinade possibilities. Usually it is recommended to leave the meat in the marinade for anywhere from 1 to 24 hours before bringing it up to room temperature prior to grilling.
The marinade quantities below are for 1.5 to 2 pounds of meat. If you are cooking a smaller piece, I would hesitate on cutting down on the marinade too much, as you want to be sure that the meat is properly tenderized.
For the Marinade, combine:
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves of minced garlic (about 3 tbsp.)
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup soya sauce
- 1/4 cup of honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tsp of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Two sprigs of rosemary, stems removed, chopped (optional)
Place your scored or pierced flank steak in a re-sealable plastic bag large enough to hold the steak and marinade, and then pour the marinade over the steak. Seal the bag and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until the next day. (About 4 hours is a good length of time, I think.)
While the steak is marinating, be sure to turn the bag from time to time so that everything is coated evenly.
Prior to cooking, bring the steak from the refrigerator and pat dry with a paper towel to remove the excess marinade. Discard the marinade. Allow to warm up to room temperature, then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste, and grill.
On a hot grill (about 450° F) grill for 2 to 4minutes per side for medium-rare, being careful not to over-cook. I check frequently with an instant-read thermometer, which suggests 145° for ‘medium rare’. I like to take it off the grill at about 140°, as the meat will continue to cook briefly.
Place the meat on a cutting board covered loosely with foil for about 10 minutes. Then make thin slices against the grain on a slight diagonal for long thin strips.
Serve with the Chimichurri Sauce and enjoy.
Chimichurri is basically a South American Pesto perfect for barbecued meats, but can accompany many dishes. There are dozens of versions, but this is one that we have enjoyed.
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup wine vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tbsp. shallot or onion
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice/lemon zest
Purée all ingredients in a food processor until everything is well-blended. Transfer to a bowl and cover, ready to use. (Do this at least one hour in advance.)
Store the sauce covered and refrigerated, but before serving, allow it to stand until it returns to room temperature.
You can enjoy the sauce over, beef, chicken, fish, etc., or lightly toss it with roasted vegetables or over salad greens.
As for wine, You should enjoy these Vintages products.
Domaine La Décelle Réserve Valréas 2017, $17, an excellent Côtes du Rhône Villages red, should match admirably. The Decanter World Wine Awards remarked on its “lovely texture with fine, elegant tannins and abundant strawberry, smoky and raspberry flavours. Very long, silky and insistent finish.” -95.
For something a little different, consider the Accornero Bricco Del Bosco Grignolino Del Monferrato Casalese 2018, $19.95 from Italy’s northern Piedmont district. Most Grignolinos are lighter, but Giulio Accornero e Figli seem to get the best out of the Grignolino grape which can exhibit characteristics of black cherry and tobacco. Vintages identifies “a wealth of elegantly articulated floral and strawberry tones, with chocolate and a subtle earth note adding complexity.”
It might seem strange to recommend a Rosé with steak, but the Masi Rosa Dei Masi Rosato 2019, $16.95, just might have the stuffing to carry the day. In the May issue of Decanter it was given a 93. It has great texture, tart cherry fruit, and elegant extended flavours. A percentage of partially dried fruit no doubt contributes to the complexity.
Before dinner, you might want to enjoy Spain’s Viña Real Fermentado En Barrica Blanco 2018, $17.95, subtly aged in oak on its lees for 4 months. robertparker.com suggests it is “quite fresh and fruit-driven, easy to drink, subtle and with just a spicy twist.”