I’ve been exploring different kinds of wine recently, and it’s been an interesting journey. I’m by no means a connoisseur, but I am developing a taste for red wine. This week I happened to be trying out a bottle of Merlot that we got as a Christmas gift, and there was no way I could finish the whole bottle by myself before it went bad. What was I going to do? I’ve been cooking with wine for ages now, and I know that reds tend to pair best with beef, and I happened to have some steaks in the freezer. Which meant that I was in search of a recipe, and where do I go to find those? Why Pinterest, of course…
I happened upon a plausible solution in the form of Steak with Mushroom Merlot Sauce.
I was a pretty straightforward recipe. Now don’t get me wrong, I made some distinct changes and substitutions. I got together the ingredients for the recipe: the steaks, 1 cup of Merlot, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, 3 shallots, 4 cloves of crushed garlic, 1/3 cup heavy cream (I used 2/3 of a cup of whole milk), 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (I left this out), salt & pepper.
Once I had everything at the ready, I actually read through the directions and figured out that I only needed the ingredients for the marinade to start with… Grrrr. So, I combined the wine, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and the thyme in a pyrex measuring cup.
Then I rinsed and dried the steaks, and put them into a shallow glass dish with a cover. Next I poured the marinade over the steak, and covered the dish. The recipe said to turn the steak to cover it with the marinade, but I just shook the container to get a more thorough coating. Now I got to take a 2 hour break, and enjoy a nice glass of Merlot, because the steak needed to be refrigerated for at least that long.
After I had enjoyed a nice relaxing glass of wine and a good movie, I took the steak out of the marinade and set it aside. Then I put the other tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan.
Next I sauteed the shallots and garlic in the heated olive oil.
When they were nicely heated through, I added the marinade to the pot and brought it to a boil for about 10 minutes until it reduced slightly.
Next, I reduced the heat and added the mushrooms. They cooked in the wine sauce for about 5 minutes.
Once the mushrooms are soft, it’s time to add the cream, tomato paste, salt and pepper. I used whole milk and omitted the tomato paste.
While the sauce is simmering, preheat the broiler (or grill pan – which is what I used). Let the steak cook to medium rare.
I served it over a crusty Italian bread, with yet another glass of the lovely Merlot.
The thing I learned from this meal is that the cut of steak matters just as much as the age and vintage of wine.