January 26, 2015 Dinner Party with Mike and Kathryn Grilled Aged Rib Steak with sautéed mushrooms, steamed sugar snap peas, and Potatoes au Gratin and Salad and cheeses
Mike and Kathryn live in Paris and so I wanted the menu to have a French feel to it and yet wanted to make it the simple type of food we like. On Friday Suzette brought home the two ten lb. pieces of rib steaks that her kitchen staff had aged in an ice box lined with sheets of Himalayan rock salt for 18 days. At noon I pulled one of the pieces out and hand cut it into seven steaks. The most difficult part of the steak to cut around was a piece of bone that connected to each vertebrae, but with a bit of help from my large 13 inch Sabatier knife, I was able to remove the knuckle and cut steaks that were about six 1 1/4 inch thick steaks. I put two of the steaks that matched in thickness and each had a bone into the fridge meat compartment and put the others in the freezer in the garage.
At 5:00 when Suzette arrived home we started preparing the meal. I took the package of French Lincet cheese and the béarnaise sauce out of the fridge to let them warm to room temperature.
Potatoes au Gratin
Since the potatoes had to bake in the oven we started on them first.
We took all of our cheeses out of the fridge and decided to use some older pieces of Irish Cheddar and Manchego for the potatoes and Suzette and I hand grated about 2 cups of cheese.
I then thinly sliced the six or seven white potatoes I had bought at Sprouts last Friday ($.99/lb.) while Suzette rubbed the bottom of a ceramic baking dish with garlic and butter. Then Suzette arranged the potatoes in a pleasing manner in the ceramic dish.
She then added the 2 cups of grated cheeses, 4 Tbsps. of butter and a mixture of 1 cup of 2% milk and ½ cup of heavy creams heated to almost a boil in the microwave.
She then baked the potatoes at 375˚ for 45 minutes and then turned the heat down to 275˚ to await the arrival of Mike and Kathryn.
Meanwhile I halved and thinly sliced about 10 or 12 white and brown mushrooms.
Then I went to the garden and fetched 3 or 4 sprigs each of thyme and garlic leaves. and pulled the thyme leaves off their stems and chopped the garlic leaves finely and added them to the mushrooms.
I then minced on shallot and put that in a separate bowl.
I then fetched the stoppered carafe of Amontillado Sherry and put these ingredients beside the stove.
I had talked to Mike at around 3:00 to see if they were on the road and he said they would be arriving around 7:00. I discussed whether they wanted a salad and he said they would like a salad.
So after Suzette put the potatoes into the oven to bake, I fetched the bib lettuce we bought at Costco on Saturday and Suzette tore about three cups of it and spun it in the spinner while I made a
Basic vinaigrette dressing using
1 ½ Tbsp Italian White Wine vinegar
A dash of salt and pepper
½ tsp. of Herb Provence given to us by Kathryn and Mike
A clove of garlic in olive oil that Suzette had roasted last spring
1 tsp. of Dijon mustard
I slowly added about 1/3 cup of olive oil in small amounts at a time and stirred the dressing to cream it and bring the vinegar and oil into balance.
The way to tell if the olive oil and vinegar are in balance is to taste the dressing and if you get a harsh taste of vinegar on the back of your tongue, you need to add more olive oil.
I then chopped up two Roma tomatoes, four stalks of celery from our garden and 1/3 of a peeled cucumber and put them into a colander to await the salad course.
Mike and Kathryn arrived a bit before 7:30 and said they would have arrived by 7:00 but stopped to pick up a bottle of 2013 Meiomi Pinot Noir. I thanked them for stopping to get wine. Meiomi is a blend of pinot noir grapes (37% from Monterrey County, 34% from Sonoma County and 29% from Santa Barbara County). I think Meiomi has a big jammy almost licorice taste and I wanted a more elegant French tasting wine for dinner so I fetched a bottle of 2010 Domaine Drouhin we bought when we visited Drouhin’s winery on the Dundee Hills in the Willamette Valley of Oregon on May 23, 2012 ($40.00) from the basement and opened it. Pinot Noirs raised in the northern portion of their range, especially where there is a lot of rain seem to have a thinner, less fruit forward flavor that seems to me to be a more characteristically Pinot Noir flavor. The three main pinot noir growing areas that most clearly meet these conditions in my mind are Anderson Valley, CA, the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Cote d’ Or in Burgundy, France. The reason Meiomi has a big jammy licorice taste is because the grapes are raised in a warmer drier climate, in my opinion.
Suzette then put a couple of cups of sugar snap peas into the steamer and started them at a high heat to create a boil and took the steaks outside to the grill.
I then started mushrooms by melting 2 Tbsp. of butter in a large skillet Suzette had washed and put on the stove with about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and added the minced shallot and sautéed for a couple of minutes and then added the sliced mushrooms. In a minute I saw that there was not enough butter to softened all the mushrooms so I added another Tbsp. of butter and they all began to soften. Then in another couple of minutes I added about 1 ½ Tbsps. of sherry and separated any mushroom slices that were stuck together, so they could absorb the butter and sherry. I then turned down the heat and checked the sugar snap peas.
Soon Suzette brought in the steaks, saying, “I like mine cooked to rare.“ Everyone agreed that they liked their steak cooked to rare, so we were ready to eat. The beauty of grilling 1 ¼ inch thick aged beef is that much of the excess moisture has been removed by the aging process and they cook faster and more evenly, in my opinion; at least these two steaks did.
We set the table with napkins, silverware and wine glasses.
I sliced the steaks and then turned off the heat on the sugar snap peas and the mushrooms and Suzette got the potatoes out of the oven and we put serving spoons on each of the items and we served dinner buffet style from the kitchen.
I poured glasses of the 2010 Domaine Drouhin Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and we had a lovely dinner. Everyone ate small portions and when I poured the second pouring of wine, I realized that we needed glasses of water to drink. Suzette filled glasses with ice and water and we continued unabated with dinner.
I dabbed a bit of béarnaise sauce on my peas to give them a bit more flavor because they were a little over cooked, and dipped some forkfuls of steak and mushrooms into the béarnaise sauce.
The steak was delicious by itself. It was also delicious combined with slices sautéed mushrooms. It was also delicious with mushrooms and béarnaise. It was uniquely delicious; firm charred a bit, uniformly tender. I loved it.
After dinner I put the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl and tossed them with the dressing.
When I tasted the salad dressing after I had poured it into the salad bowl and it tasted of vinegar, so I added another 1 ½ Tbsp. of olive oil.
We ate salad and then took a rest. I do not drink wine with salad made with vinegar because I think the vinegar destroys the flavor of the wine. I do drink wine with salad dressings made with lemon juice.
After a few minutes I opened the Meiomi and poured it and toasted pieces of Fano French baguette. And put out the Lincet and then butter and the small pieces of PPI Stilton, Goat cheese and Iberico (a Spanish cow, sheep and goat milk cheese). All the cheeses were bought at Costco, which is now my go to place for cheese.
|The potatoes au Gratin|
|The potato recipe (1 cup of boiling milk is last entry)|
|The Potato recipe|
|the French label|
|the American label|
|The box with the name of the maker and AOP designation|
|the type of cheese|
The Chaource Lincet was the star of the cheese course. It has a runny inside when the outer wall is opened and spreads easily on bread. I seems perfect, except for the fact that it is a bit gummy and leaves trails of cheese across the table as one moves a knife from the cheese plate to a piece of bread.
The Lincet is the best cheese for the money in Albuquerque. As I recall it is $2.99 or $3.99 at Costco for a 250 gram box (454 grams to the lb.). It is the first Appellation d’ Origine Protégé cheese I have found in Albuquerque that seems to be properly ripened and I recommend it. Everyone liked the cheeses so well that we all forgot about dessert and kept eating cheese and drinking wine until about 10:00.
Mike and Kathryn are staying at her mother’s house in Rio Rancho, so Kathryn helped Suzette load the dishwasher and I poured glasses of Trimbach Poire William Grande Reserve brandy for a final degustation and we said goodnight.