Friday, November 23, 2012

Wine With Everything - Filet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce

After just two days in Napa, we were all wined out. Luckily, the Mr. and I have a quick recovery time. Predictably, we were right back on the horse in no time flat. Although I know I'll continue to be the type of girl who's quite content an everyday bottle, tasting so many extra special wines in Napa has opened my eyes a bit. 

David Arthur Winery, Photo: NK
The Tasting at Domaine Carneros, Photo: NK
Photo courtesy of Cakebread Cellars

Our winery tour took us to some great vineyards in the famed Napa region where we sampled many delightful glasses. Several were leaps and bounds better than our everyday purchase. Now better doesn't always mean more expensive, but training your palate on a few exceptional wines is worth it in the long run. Though I am far from expert, I feel I'll have an easier time identifying a good quality, good value wine in the future. And when I do pony up some extra bucks for a sought-after bottle, I pledge that I will savor it, not gulp. 

Here are the best wines that we tasted in Napa:

Chiarello Vineyards, Eileen, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 
Domaine Carneros, La Reve, Blanc de Blancs (Sparkling)  
Cakebread Cellars, Chardonnay Reserve, 2010  
David Arthur, Elevation 1147, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 
Domaine Carneros, The Famous Gate, Pinot Noir, 2009
And because you can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take New York out of the girl, here's a list of 9 fantastic wines from the still up-and-coming Long Island Region, courtesy of Saveur: 9 Long Island Wines Worth Buying. But this is a food blog, after all, so today, I'd like to share a very special meal that uses wine in the cooking - and naturally also lends itself to a little wine on the side. 

Photo: NK 
Filet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce is a knockout dish where wine takes center stage. Using a dry red, we'll create a delicious, classic sauce that complements but doesn't overpower the beef. Best of all, this recipe requires very few ingredients and is totally accessible to the starter cook. My one directive is that you please don't break my heart by cooking your filet any more than to medium doneness. This also happens to be an ideal romantic meal for two. Is it too early to practice for Valentine's day?
Since there are a lot of myths associated with wine in cooking, I thought we should clear them up, and learn a bit more about cooking with wine while we're at it. Check out these great tips below, all courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine's Marcia Kiesel. 
All content from Food & Wine:

1. Dilute wine marinades and braises
"I love wine-based stews, but I think they need to be cut with chicken or beef stock; otherwise, they're too astringent. I prefer to use a ratio of half or one-third wine to stock. If I'm braising an exceptionally flavorful cut of meat for several hours, like lamb shanks, I have no problem adding water instead of stock. When marinating meat, I never use straight wine—again, it's just too harsh. For marinades, I cut the wine with oil." Save nice wines for drinking
"Some people say that it's best to cook with the wine you're drinking. That's fine if it's an everyday $10 bottle, but not if it's something much more expensive. For the most part, wine's nuances are killed by heat, so I usually cook with an inexpensive dry white or red, even if I plan to drink a nicer bottle. If a recipe calls for a wine that's more expensive, like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, I downgrade to a similar but less complex wine, like a Côtes-du-Rhône." 

3. The exception to rule #2: Aromatic whites can transform a dish
I finally tried the Wine Confit we brought
home from France in my mushroom side.
A delicious way to add wine essence!
Photo: NK
"Usually, it doesn't matter what wine I use when cooking, but there is an exception: I've found that perfumy whites, like Riesling, Vouvray and Muscat, can give an ordinary dish so much character. When we tested a chicken-with-Riesling dish from chefJean-Georges Vongerichten, I couldn't believe how well the floral notes of the wine came through. The Riesling literally turned a simple braised chicken into an extraordinary dish." 

4. If you have leftovers of a special bottle, make vinaigrette or steam mussels
"If, for some reason, I don't finish a bottle of excellent wine, I make a salad dressing  with it. First, I soak minced shallots in the wine to mellow the oniony flavor. Then I add minced garlic and whisk in some good olive oil. It's not as tart as a vinegar-based vinaigrette, but it still has a lovely winey tang. If I have about a half-cup of wine left, I love to steam mussels in it. The wine is heated only briefly, so it maintains some of its distinctive flavors, which meld so beautifully with the mussel liquor. Champagne-steamed mussels are my favorite, on the rare occasion that I have any left over!" 

5. Fat enriches wine sauces
"If a wine-based sauce tastes too sharp, swirling in cream or butter rounds it out so it's not quite so harsh. Plus, since fat absorbs and carries flavor, I find that cream or butter actually enhances the taste of wine in a sauce or stew."

Now we are ready to cook!

Filet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce
Recipe from Food Network/Giada De Laurentiis
Prep and Cook Time - about an hour total, largely inactive time 

Serves 2 
Straining the Sauce, photo: NK
Suggested Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon

2- 6 Ounce Filet Mignon Medallions
Kosher Salt 
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cold  
1/2 White Onion, sliced thinly
1/2 Tablespoon Garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano  
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1.25 Cups Dry Red Wine (we used a 10 dollar bottle of Merlot)
Liberally season Filets with Salt and Pepper and drizzle all over with Olive Oil. 

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high and grill steaks to desired doneness - about 5 to 6 minutes per side for Medium Rare. When done, set aside on a platter and tent with foil. Let rest for about 10 minutes

Next, melt 2 Tablespoons of Butter in a medium saucepan. Add the Onions and saute them until they are tender - about 5 to 6 minutes. 
Sprinkle Onions with a bit of Salt and Pepper. 

Add the Garlic and Oregano to the Onions and stir until fragrant - about 30 seconds.

Stir in the Tomato Paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. 
Now, whisk in the Wine. Lower heat to medium low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until the volume of the mixture reduces by about half - about 10 minutes.

Pour Sauce through a sieve and into a bowl to strain out the solids. Press the mixture into the sieve to help the sauce through and maximize the yield. Discard the solids and pour strained Sauce back into your pot. Return it to a gentle simmer. Add 2 Tablespoons chilled butter one by one, whisking continuously until incorporated. If necessary, season Sauce with a little more Salt and Pepper (keep in mind that your steak has been generously seasoned already). 

To Plate, set Filets on your dinner plates, drizzle with wine sauce and serve! Voila!

Filet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce, Photo: NK
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