3 TBSP butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 OZ button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup minced shallots
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
4 5-ounce filet mignon steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick)
1/2 cup Madeira
1-1/2 cups beef stock or beef broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
Salt and Pepper
Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 TBSP olive oil in heavy large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes until tender. Add 1/4 cup shallots and half of garlic, sauté until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in thyme; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to medium bowl.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plate, cover with foil.
Add remaining 1/4 cup shallots and garlic to same skillet. Sauté 2 minutes. Add Madeira and boil until reduced by half. Add broth and boil until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup. Add cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Return steaks to skillet, cook to warm up, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.
A meal as regal as this one calls for an exceptional wine. So far in 2009, the Spann Vineyards Cabernet from Sonoma is the best Cab I've had all year at any price. For $35 you would expect a good wine. The Spann Cabernet is a GREAT wine and could easily fetch $60. This is an "OMIGOD" wine to be sure. At least one person lucky enough to get a glass will inevitably blurt out something along those lines. It's rich, it has depth, it's like cashmere in a glass balancing sweet jammy fruit with elegant nuances. Peter and Betsy Spann have the ability to create beautiful wines that aren't over the top or overpowering, yet show layer after layer of interesting notes. This reminds me of the 1988 Cheval Blanc I had last fall. Perfectly balanced between sweet, sour, salty and bitter, it compliments the Filet pefectly.
To celebrate the global release of Penfold's Grange's new vintage, Penfold's hosted an evening of wine+food at Ghiradelli Square in downtown San Francisco. Celebrity chef Curtis Stone was tasked with creating food pairings to match with each wine. This was an incredible evening not only because of the food, but the people in attendance provided excellent conversation throughout the night. For me personally, it was a treat as I had just visited Penfolds' Magill estate a few week prior and had the chance to sit down with winemaker Peter Gago. All wines for the dinner were served out of magnum into varietal specific stemware.
One of the real treats of the evening was getting a personalized video greeting from Penfolds winemaker, Peter Gago. He is the man responsible for making Grange, and keeper of the Penfolds quality level. After dinner was over, I had a chance to talk with Curtis and get his thoughts on how he likes to pair wine with his food creations. What he says about balancing intensity of flavor is spot on. Think of intensity of flavor on a scale of 1-10. If you have a wine that's a 7 on that scale, you want the intensity in your dish to also be around a 7. Here's what Curtis created to pair with each wine:
First Course - Dungeness Crab, Pickled Petit Beets, Tangerine, Arugula, Aragon Oil & Shallot Vinaigrette paired with 2008 Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay Curtis shaved the beets razor thin and then pickled them specifically to marry up with the acidity in the Chardonnay. The 2008 Yattarna has a distinct acid backbone, so much so that the wine will make the roof of your mouth tingle (which is how you detect acidity).
Second Course - Wagyu Beef "Tataki", Chantrelle Red Wine Compote, Horseradish Créme Friache Foam, Confit Baby Tomatoes, Micro Chives paired with 2007 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz This was one of my favorite pairings of the night. The Beef was just right and really benefitted from the earthiness of the Chantrelle mushrooms. I think that was the thread that tied the Shiraz and dish together. St. Henri Shiraz might be the most "un-Aussie" style shiraz. The wine is fermented in large neutral oak barrels imparting very little oak influence, which allows the stellar fruit to show through.
Third Course - Strozzapreti Pasta, Foie Gras "jean Louis" Style, Pickled Ramps, Fava Leaves, Fava Beans, Beaufort Cheese paired with 2008 Penfolds 707 Cabernet Sauvignon I wolfed this dish down so fast I didn't even get to take a photo of it. The 707 is an exceptional Cabernet that's decidedly Australian meaning it truly expresses the place it is grown without being overpowering. One of my favorite Cabernets (also Penfolds), Block 42 goes into this Cabernet allowing the wine to have power combined with finesse.
Fourth Course - Sonoma Quail "Lardon", Crushed Purple Potatoes, Bacon, Sauce A La Orange, Frisee paired with 1998 and 2008 Penfolds RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz Curtis wanted to try an alternative version of Duck A La Orange and it worked beautifully. It takes confidence to serve a quail dish after beef and pasta, especially when you're doing a progression dinner. This dish was really tasty, but not the best pairing of the night. The RWT Shiraz was a solid example of what Barossa Shiraz can be in a great vintage, but ultimately it was a bit too much for the quail. The 1998 RWT was so youthful in both color and fruit it was hard to believe this was a 13-year old wine. Many red wines start to change color around the rim as that age changing from red to pink to salmon to a brownish hue. The 1998 was showing now signs of age yet, and with such a youthful nose it's got another 20 years ahead easily.
Fifth Course - Australian Lamb Loin "En Croute", English Pea Puree, Morels, Pea Sprouts, Lamb Jus paired with 1996 and 2006 Penfolds Grange As if the night could get any better, it did. Curtis saved his best for last with the lamb loin wrapped in philo dough. The real star of the dish was the pea puree providing a unique combination of texture and flavor. I take that back, the real star of the dish was the lamb wrapped in a thin puff pastry. No, wait. Maybe the star was the lamb ju. No matter how you look at it, if you're going to create a dish to pair with an iconic wine like Grange, it better deliver and this one did. What can you say about Grange that hasn't been said? This 2006 vintage combines the power of the 2004 but has the elegance and grace of 2000. If you follow the "law of 6's" you'll see Grange tends to be at its best in years that end with the number 6. Can't wait to see how 2006 develops over time.
Dessert - Delice Cheese, Berkshire Lomo, Crispy Bread, Sausalito Springs Watercress, Quince Paste Essence paired with NV Penfolds Grandfather Tawny Port Dessert is my favorite course, and a cheese plate is a good way to go. This cheese was a small little morsel but it was "triple creamed" creating a rich foamy brie texture. The crispy bread was paper thin providing just the right compliment for the cheese. Of course you can't go wrong with a nice Tawny port. I love port, and had a chance to talk port and madeira with Bartholomew Broadbent recently. Many wine lovers might now realize this, but Aussies make some of the best fortified wine in the world from port to Muscat. The Penfolds Grandfather Tawny port was provided an exclamation point on the evening.
This was a night full of celebrities and great company. Wine+food never ceases to amaze me in its ability to bring people together. From a wine lover standpoint, it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. From a sommelier standpoint, these wines represent the pinnacle of what Penfolds makes. Mrs B and I don't drink Penfolds as much as we used to, but it's always good to be reminded about a winery is capable of. This meal along with my recent tour through Australia has reminded us about all the great wines coming from Australia, Penfolds and the Barossa. Thank you to Penfolds for inviting my wife and I to be part of the May 1 festivities. Cheers!
1 3-lb. Beef Tenderloin
3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Madeira
2/3 cup Vermouth
1 bay leaf
1 TBSP butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP marjoram
1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup cold water
sea salt and pepper
3 slices white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped (thyme, marjoram, rosemary, parsley)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
At least 2 hours before cooking, combine all ingredients together (not Herb Crust or Madeira) in a large bowl or pan. Place meat in mixture and cover entire cut of beef with herb mix. Refrigerate for later cooking.
To make herb crust, place bread in food processor with herbs and garlic. Process until well blended and fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grill Method: Preheat grill to medium high. Take beef out of marinade and set marinade aside for later. Cook each side of meat 4 minutes or so giving it a nice sear on all sides. After searing, move beef to upper rack or cooler side of grill and cook 20 minutes.
Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425°F. Oven sear beef (brown sides, about 5-7 minutes each side) then reduce heat to 350°F. Cook for 30-35 minutes making sure to baste throughout cooking.
After beef is done cooking, remove filet from grill or oven and place on a platter, then cover with foil tent. Place platter in oven with oven off and door open, or with the oven on WARM for 20 minutes. Take the marinade that was set aside and pour it into a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil and reduce liquid by half, add madeira, then reduce by half. Serve sauce on the side late with beef. If you cooked the beef in the oven, you can use the roasting pan instead of a small saucepan so you get all the yummy bits.
To finish, rub herb crust mixture all over beef, brush a light amount of olive oil if needed. Place herb-covered beef back on the grill and cook each side about 2-3 minutes per side taking care to not burn the crust. If using the oven, broil each side for 2-3 minutes taking care to avoid burning.
Carve beef and serve with sauce on side.
Here's a regal beef dish that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you actually like the people you have over at your house you can bring out the good wines to impress them. Better yet, pull out a magnum. If it's your family and they're driving you up one wall and down another you can opt for the lower tier swill. If you dine at Chez Bakas, chances are it's all good stuff. Because this beef dish requires a little extra preparation, why not serve a wine that's got a little extra Bruce Lee round house kick to the taste buds? I'd serve these wines with this dish: