Ok I am going to break one of my own rules and tell you the actual wine, well wines, that are paired with this dinner. Not to tell you that if you make this you have to go out and find those wines. Not even to make you feel jealous (though you could be, just a little). But because these wines are the whole reason that I made the dinner.
This dinner was for my dad. He had been saving these wines, a vertical (1984, 1985, 1985) of Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon for years. He waited and waited, and at one point he thought that he had waited too long but finally he decided just to go for it. So we made a deal, he would finally open the wines and I would make a dinner to go with them, and excellent trade in my opinion. So he gathered some friends and I planned a menu and this is where we ended up.
Ridge’s Monte Bello vineyard is located high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, only about 15 miles away from the Pacific Ocean. Making it one of the coolest Cabernet Sauvignon producing regions in the state of California. Which means that these wines are not what you think of when you think of a typical cabernet sauvignon from California. They are still dark and rich and complex but they also have lovely notes of earth and smoke and leather. And across all the vintages the highest alcohol of the bunch was 13.1% from the 1985, followed closely by a 12.9% from the 1984 and an 11.8% from the 1986. To put that in perspective, pull any Cab you own off your shelf and my bet is that nothing from California is dropping lower that 14%. So while you by no means have to pair these particular wines with this dinner, if you are going to make it, and you should, maybe step out of your comfort zone and step away from Napa Valley and see if you can find a cooler climate lower alcohol Cabernet Sauvignon to compliment this food. Because this flank steak is rich and juicy and amazing but you don’t want to overpower it with any wine that is too big or over the top. And of course potatoes need some tannin to cut through their richness but you can still find that structure and power in a wine that isn’t a fruit bomb.
Adapted from Saveur: The New Comfort Food
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 dried chiles de árbol, broken
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 2-lb flank steak
- Kosher salt to taste
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 large waxy potatoes (about 2 ½ lbs), I like white rose but you can also use red bliss or fingerling
- 2 cups half and half
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly ground nutmeg
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup grated gruyére cheese
- For the Flank Steak:
- Toast the peppercorns, coriander, chile, and bay leaves in a skillet until they start to smell fragrant. Make sure to stir them occasionally so they toast evenly. Transfer to a hard surface and crush slightly with the bottom of the skillet.
- To a 9 by 13 in baking dish add the crushed spices, the wine, the vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil and whisk to combine. With a fork prick the steak all over and place it in the marinade. Spoon marinade over the steak to ensure that it comes in contact with all of the steak. Cover, refrigerate and marinate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours. I make mine the night the night before and let it sit overnight.
- An hour before you want to grill it take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the marinade to a small pot and bring to a boil on the stove. Set aside.
- Grill the steak on medium hot fire on a charcoal or a gas grill turned to medium high heat. Turn once and use a brush to baste with the reserved marinade until browned and medium rare. Depending on the thickness of the cut you got this should take about 5-7 min per side.
- Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes so the juices have a chance to re-absorb back into the meat. To carve the steak cut thin slices against the grain and serve with any accumulated juices.
For the Potatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 400° and grease an 8 by 10 baking dish with 1 tbsp of butter.
- Make a paste with the garlic; there are really two ways to do that. You can either mince the garlic and once minced sprinkle with a little bit of salt and scrape the garlic and salt mixture against the work surface with the back of a knife. Or if you are super lazy like me you can just grate the garlic on a micro plane, still sprinkle with a little salt and the paste will come together almost instantly with very little effort.
- Peel and cut the potatoes into ⅛ inch rounds. If you own a mandolin now is the time to use it. If you don’t I would strongly suggest borrowing one. Its important the slices are not only thin but also uniform and trying to do that by hand with very slippery potatoes is not easy. Trust me, mandolins are fun and this isn’t even a laziness issue I swear.
- Combine the garlic paste, potatoes, half and half, and remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook stirring occasionally until the potatoes are just tender and the sauce has thickened, this take about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to your prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the gruyére. Bake until golden brown and bubby, 30-40 minutes.