A recent blind tasting proved a point to my partner.
With two open bottles of red wine on the kitchen counter, I convinced him that I needed to open a third. The other two just weren’t good.
Luckily, a family member received one with the caveat that she didn’t particularly care and didn’t know why she had bought such a quantity. In my palate, California old vine zinfandel had the musty aroma of old books.
The other, unfortunately, was a waste of about $10, paid to a local winery via a local grocery store. I was sure I had tried the red mix in the previous months, but this time it tasted like overripe fruit – almost rotten. I speculated that a mistake was made somewhere between the winemaking, bottling and storage process.
The wine that cleaned the plonk off my palate was Sokol Blosser’s Evolution 2020 Big Red, a well-balanced and harmonious blend, or so I told my partner. Just to make sure I wasn’t swayed by the labels or other aesthetics of the bottles and their contents, he arranged a blind tasting for me. Correctly identifying each of the three, I asked him to give his verdict before describing what I tasted. We agreed that the Big Red was the only truly drinkable option.
So, he asked, what to do with the other two? The old vine zinfandel, I said, would deepen the flavor of the red sauce with our next meal of spaghetti and meatballs. I’m more wary of the local red blend, but I think the offending notes would soften over long cooking and be less detectable next to rich meat.
A classic beef bourguignon would fill the bill nicely. Braised the same way, this flank steak is piled on crispy ciabatta rolls with melted Gruyere cheese for a gourmet cheesesteak paired perfectly with a round red wine.
Tribune News Photo service
Flank steak braised in red wine With Roasted Peppers, Onions and Gruyère
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound flank steak
1 medium carrot, coarsely diced
1/2 white onion, coarsely diced
2 garlic cloves, quartered
2 to 3 cups of red wine
2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 red pepper
1 large red onion, sliced crosswise into 3/4-inch wheels
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
4 ciabatta breads
8 slices of Gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Choose an oven-safe skillet (with a lid) or Dutch oven large enough to hold the meat comfortably but still lay flat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat and cook, 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Remove the meat and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium-high. Add carrot, onion and garlic and sauté until vegetables begin to brown but are still firm. Return the meat to the skillet and add enough red wine to cover 3/4 of the sides of the meat.
Add the thyme and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Braise the meat for 2 1/2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the liquid isn’t drying out (if it does, add more wine). The meat should be very tender and soft enough to separate with a fork. Transfer to a plate to rest and cool.
While the meat cooks, roast the red pepper over high heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until charred throughout. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes. Rub the charred parts with your fingers (some charred parts are fine) and cut the pepper into strips. If you don’t have a gas stove, place the bell pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet and place in a preheated oven, turning occasionally, until tender. tender and creased all over, for about 45 to 55 minutes. Remove and, when cool enough to touch, cut the bell pepper into strips.
Brush the red onion with the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. In a skillet over high heat, grill the onion – without separating it into individual rings – until charred on the outside and lightly cooked on the inside. Place in a bowl and separate into rounds. Add roasted peppers, olive oil, sherry vinegar and remaining tsp salt; mix well.
Strain the cooking liquid from the meat into a bowl. Using 2 forks, separate the meat into large ropes and roughly cut across into 2-3 inch pieces. Mix the meat with the juices and coat well.
Cut the ciabatta buns in half. Place 1 slice of cheese on each bottom and top half. Arrange meat on bottom halves and peppers on top halves; place all roll pieces in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake until cheese is melted. Place top halves over bottom halves, cut each sandwich in half and serve.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “Wichcraft” by Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortúzar.