The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 12.01.05


Steak fit for royalty

Steak fit for royalty Some of you Quebecers may have rushed off to the liquor store to purchase some of the Vin Nouveau that was released precisely at one minute past midnight on Thursday. If you didn't have some reserved in your name you may have come up empty handed.

An annual ritual of tasting young Beaujolais from France has become increasingly popular and it is curious that we rush to procure wines so young that they have not developed full flavors. In fact, young wines that have not touched the oak generally are absent of all the great qualities we often search for in a good wine.

However, there is something to be said for these fruity crisp offerings. Just ask the Japanese, who gobble up these wines faster that even we do in Quebec.

This past year I have become fond of a relative newbie to the scene. Yellow Tail wine from Australia may not classify as Vin Nouveau but deserves mention as a newcomer that is making a big splash on this side of the pond. Whether you have a penchant for Merlot, Cabernet, Shiraz, or Chardonnay you will likely find one that suits your palate. I enjoy a good Shiraz as my many friends will attest to and, while I enjoy tasting and sipping, I also like to use it in recipes. A good Shiraz reveals aromas of ripe cherries, blackberries, chocolate, and mocha. Your palate is crammed with intense, concentrated fruit, complemented by spicy notes and soft, well- structured tannins.

Which raises the first and most important rule of cooking with wine -- use only wines in your cooking that you would drink. Never, ever use any wine that you would not drink…if you do not like the taste of a wine, you will not like the dish you choose to use it in.

We often enjoy good steak with a good wine at our house and the following recipe produces steak that rivals any served at a high-end restaurant.

Make sure you get cooking before you get into the wine too much as we have noticed that abilities in the process can be influenced somewhat (hic!).

Shiraz Filet Mignon Steaks

2 (4 to 6 ounce) 1-inch thick filet mignon steaks
Olive oil
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Shiraz (may substitute any good dry red wine)
1 to 2 tablespoons cold butter

Bring steaks to room temperature. Coat steaks lightly with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper (press in with your hands).

In a heavy frying pan (I use my cast-iron) over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear the steaks, moving them with tongs a little so they don't stick to the bottom, for 5 to 6 minutes per side.

When the steaks are crusty-charred and done to your liking, remove from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

During this time the meat continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute; add juices that accumulate from resting steaks to wine sauce). Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping any pieces of steak off the bottom of the pan and stirring them into the emerging sauce.

Let the liquid boil until reduced to approximately 1/3 cup. Remove pan from heat. Add the cold butter and mix it in by swirling the pan. Pour the sauce over the steaks just before serving.

Makes 2 servings.