Story and recipes by Debbi Snook | Wine Commentary by Gary Twining
Photo by Beth Segal
Grilling season is no longer limited to summer, especially during COVID-19 times. Besides, embracing outdoor cooking now also will allow us to gear up for the day when we can host larger-scale, guilt-free backyard gatherings again. It’s always a fine time to make merry with the flames.
Learn to make those flames work for you in preparing a prized hunk of meat, trio of vegetables and a fire-licked dessert. The secret? Learning when to put your food atop the raging heat for an appealing char, or just off to the side of the hottest coals or burners, where the more moderate heat, and smoke, will cook it more slowly and help you control the outcome. The first bite will make it all worthwhile.
Gary: I love to grill throughout the year, in all kinds of weather, and especially with a glass of wine in my hand. Foods prepared on the grill acquire wonderful tastes. Remember to prevent your grilled fare from excessive or extensive charring, as this will bring out bitterness in both food and wine. The grill also brings out the umami character in meats, suggesting that round, soft, supple reds, as well as aged wines, can pair exceptionally well with grilled poultry and red meats.
Mushroom-Dusted Grilled Steak
This recipe is for those who would not thinkof steak without mushrooms. This time, dried mushrooms are ground into a powder, mixed with other seasonings and rubbed into both sides of the meat. On the grill, the mushroom dust gets a hit of char and melts into the steak. Post-cooking juices here are divine. Make sure everyone gets some. If you don’t want to make the rub, Trader Joe’s sells its own.
1/2-ounce dried mushrooms, preferably porcini
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sugar
1-pound ribeye steak (or other nicely marbled cut)
2 TBS freshly squeezed lime juice
1 TBS olive oil or grapeseed oil
An instant-read thermometer helps ensure perfectly cooked meat, whether you like medium rare (130-135 degrees), medium (135-145 degrees) or medium well (145-155 degrees). Expect the temperature to rise another five degrees after you take it off the grill.
Place all the rub ingredients in a spice mill, blender, or a coffee grinder used just for spices. Grind to a powder and set aside. No grinder? Grate finely.
Trim off the bigger hunks of fat on the steak, leaving only thin edges. Pour lime juice onto a plate that fits the steak. Lay in the meat, flip, cover with another plate and let sit on the counter for an hour. Pat steak dry, brush lightly with olive oil and rub in the rub
Start your fire, leaving one side less hot. When grill is fully heated, place steak over hotter side and let sit until you can lift and see marks. Move steak one-quarter turn in either direction to get cross-hatch grill marks. Repeat with other side. Move steak away from the hottest part of the grill and close grill lid. Check steak temperature every few minutes. Remove when done and let rest 5 minutes before cutting into the steak.
Gary: Well-marbled steaks have rich flavors that set off the character of full-bodied red wines. With ribeye, my preference would be Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, Sonoma, Santa Cruz, Paso Robles, or Washington State, or a red Bordeaux. Bordeaux blends from around the globe are marvelous, as are red blends based on Merlot, Syrah, Garnacha/Grenache or Zinfandel. With the rub including mushrooms, a full-bodied Pinot Noir would also be a nice pairing.