20 December 2006

2004 Pannotia Malbec

Paul and I were hanging out with the girls, and Plan A for take out fell through, so I suggested we run to the store and grab some steaks. A local chain had a sale on Porterhouses (around $8.75/lb), so I had the butcher cut a pair of 1½ pound steaks from a fresh primal, which would then be dusted with Kosher salt and ground pepper, grilled over fire and sliced up for the table: the tenderloins for the ladies, the New York strips for the guys. Worked out quite well, particularly when topped with a little soft Danish bleu cheese and caramelized onions.

The Porterhouse is one of my favorite cuts of beef, though I hate to see it sliced into thin, half pound steaks and stacked in the meat case. I really prefer to serve it like I listed above, because the thicker cut provides the most flavor and allows proper caramelization on the outside and lovely rare pink inside. And if you get one that's three or four inches thick, you can effectively cook it as a roast and carve off pieces for an entire table.

For the wine, I brought along the 2004 Pannotia Malbec, a $10 bargain from Argentina. Not the best Malbec I've ever had, but definitely workable. Blackberry and blueberry flavors dominated, with a whiff of leather on the nose. Medium tannins, easy drinking. Malbec is one of my favorite "pizza & burger" wines, though the right one can be the match for much more sophisticated fare.


Big Mike said...

Ben, loved the article but made me think about a T Bone I had once in SFO in little Italy. Would the big 4 inch thick one be called “Bistecca alla Fiorentina” (courtesy of a google search!!)? But it was a HUGE T Bone cooked rare and covered with Olive Oil and rosemary and other things carved table side. It was memorable for sure!

Benito said...

The spelling's correct, but the size of the cut varies. When I was in Florence, I had the famous bistecca alla fiorentina, which incidentally isn't an authentic Italian recipe but became popular in the 1800s due to English tourists. Apparently the Brits were not fond of Northern Italian fare (idiots!) and over the years market demand created the dish.

The Tuscan beef used for the dish is heavily marbled, and can just about be eaten with a spoon it's so tender. Mine was about 3/4" thick.

I remember the restaurant where I had it featured a sign at the front stating that no steak would be cooked past medium, and if you had a problem with that, you should best leave and go back home. The sign was in English, the locals had no reason to ever ask for bistecca brulé

I generally finish my grilled steaks off with a dash of olive oil, and if I'm in the mood I'll use a stalk of fresh rosemary to brush it on.

As for the carving of the porterhouse, I picked that up from one of Ruth Reichl's books. Her mom got the tenderloin, her dad got most of the strip, her older sister got the rest of the strip, and as the youngest, Ruth got the bone to pick off all the bits and pieces. I also saw Michael Chiarello do it on one of his shows with a 2" thick porterhouse, where the meat was carved and laid out on a platter for serving.

Allen said...

Ben, good article and reminds me of the 4lb. T-bone we had at Doe's on Beale in the late 80's. Merry Christmas to you and Mike.