Etna Rosso: Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Feudo di Mezzo 2007 – Pairing Rating: 10.0 out of 10.0
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: “Emidio Pepe” 2007 – Pairing Rating: 9.0
Maremma Toscana: Le Sughere di Frassinello 2009 – Pairing Rating: 8.0
Grilled Steak. So simple, yet so easy to screw up: underdone, overdone, or charred by grill fires. Stop the anxiety and disappointment. Make an investment in a cast iron pan or griddle, a spice grinder and an instant read thermometer; and follow this rub recipe and grilling technique for the perfect steak. No bull.
First, make the rub. The rub was engineered for beef: salt, earthy mushroom, heat . . . and sugar for caramelizing. Created by Nancy Silverton of Mozza fame in L.A., this rub is simply the best I’ve ever tried. And it’s best on Rib Eye steaks. The link below lists garlic and olive oil in the ingredients. Forget those ingredients. They were not part of Silverton’s original recipe. This is best as a dry rub,
Start with Rib-Eye steaks about 1-1/2 inches thick. After applying the rub, wrap the steaks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours. Then follow these steps:
- Remove the steaks from the frig about 1 hour before you are ready to cook.
2. Turn on your oven to 250 degrees.
3. Place the streak on a grated broiler pan in the oven for approx. 30 min.
4. Open and decant a bottle of one of the above wines.
5. Place a cast iron pan or griddle in your gas grill; turn the burners on high.
6. When internal temp of the steak is about 95 – 100 degrees, remove it from the oven.
7. By this time, the surface of the cast iron pan should be about 550 – 600 degrees.
8. Apply a thin coat of canola oil to one side of the steak and sear the steak oil side down.
9. Cook for 2 minutes with the lid of the grill open, then flip the steak.
10. Cook the other side for 3 minutes with the grill lid closed.
11. Pull the steak from the pan and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.
12. Carve the steak to see the perfectly uniform pink interior – from edge to edge!
13. Serve and enter the pearly gates.
The sugar in the rub, caramelized by the hot cast iron, gives the finished steak that beautiful crust. But it also presents a challenge for wine pairing. The challenge stems from the rule of thumb that the wine should be sweeter than the dish.
To put this to the test, I tried the steak with a Super Tuscan blend from Maremma called Le Sughere di Frassinello 2009. This wine is 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Sangiovese. Upon release, all the major wine reviewers scored this wine in the 90s. Excellent as it is, it didn’t work here: the sour cherry flavors of the Sangiovese weren’t sweet enough and the Merlot’s plum note just didn’t work well with the mushroom in the rub. This wine is a better match for tomato-based pasta dishes.
The second wine, a noteworthy Montepulciano from Emidio Pepe 2007, worked better. The Montepulciano grape delivers dark, caressing, sweet fruit. That, and its soft attack, complemented the steak beautifully, but there wasn’t enough acid in the wine to cut through the fat of the steak and cleanse the palate. This wine is a better match for sautéed Veal with Mushroom sauce.
The pairing answer was found in an Etna Rosso from Tenuta Delle Terre Nere 2007. This Sicilian red is vinified predominantly from the indigenous Nerello Mascalese grape, grown on black volcanic ash on Mount Etna. The wine delivers cedary, red fruit aromas, and flavors of bright cherry, a silky texture, with moderate tannins and crisp acidity. The perfect match for the steak because of its sweet fruit and fat-cleansing acidity. If you like Pinot Noir, but think it’s a bit light-bodied for grilled steak, you will love this Etna Rosso. And you will definitely love this Porcini-rubbed Rib-Eye. Get Grillin’!