Puriri-ent Interest

The spectacular and sublime Puriri Hills 2005 Reserve

The spectacular and sublime Puriri Hills 2005 Reserve

Mike Harper

Last night (Sunday 7/19), the Best GirlFriend Ever (BGFE) and I, had some friends over for dinner.  I made steak au poivre, a peppercorn encrusted steak with a rich cream sauce and paired it with one of my favorite wines, the Puriri Hills ’05 Reserve.
It was a spectacular match.
Though the Puriri Hills ’05 Reserve comes from New Zealand, it is a Bordeaux-style blend that features  merlot, carmenere, cab franc, malbec, and cab sav.  Its spare, lovely label belies the  lush, opulant wine in the bottle.  This is wine with a rock-solid balance, big, bold ripe fruit, mellow tannins and a persistent finish that lingers like Mona Lisa’s smile.

Judy getting in a bit of bung pounding.

Judy getting in a bit of bung pounding.

The winemaker is former Lynchburg native Judy Mosby Fowler.  Judy ended up in New Zealand through marriage to another American who was transferred there for his job.  Judy and husband subsequently divorced but she found New Zealand sufficiently charming to take root there.  Judy had a parcel of land and a recommendation that its soil and climate might make for high quality wine grapes.  She had long admired the merlot-heavy wines of Pomerol and St. Emilion and decided to take a stab at producing similar bottlings. – well,  BINGO!  She’s done a spectacular job.  Check out Judy’s web site (http://www.puririhills.co.nz/) and, if you’re going to be in New Zealand, maybe plan to stay there.  The vineyard offers guest accommodations.
At $54.99 a bottle, the ’05 Reserve is not an every-day kind of wine (unless you’re significantly more well-heeled than I) but this one’s certainly worth a splurge.  If you get a bottle, I’ll recommend decanting it as the wine has some sediment.


Bistro cooking at its best.

Steak au poivre - the bistro's best

Steak au poivre
(4) 8-10 oz. beef loin fillets  (a small NY strip would do as well)
1/4 cup of whole peppercorns*  green, white and/or black
3 Tbs clarified butter**
1 medium shallot, sliced
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cognac or brandy
1 Tbs unsalted butter

Crush the peppercorns in a towel with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan.  You don’t want to pulverize them but only crack them and break them into jagged bits.
Press the cracked peppercorns into the steak on both sides and then generously salt the meat.  In a large, searing hot pan, add the clarified butter and melt.  At the first hint of smoke, place the steaks into the pan and then cook at about 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Remove the steaks to a warm plate and tent with foil while you attend to the sauce.

Add the tablespoon of butter to the pan and then the shallot.  Cook for about a minute and then add the cognac to the pan for deglazing. [Caution:  Cognac is highly flammable and you should add it carefully, away from the flame if you are cooking on a gas stove.]  As the cognac bubbles furiously***, scrape up all the cooked bits sticking to the bottom of the pan.  These bits are rich with flavor and are an important aspect of the sauce.  As the cognac reduces to just a few tablespoons, add the beef stock and continue to reduce.  When the liquid has reduced by half, add the cream and a dash of  salt and continue to cook down until the sauce is thick and will coat the back of a spoon.

Strain the sauce through a wire mesh strainer and reserve.
Plate the steaks, spoon the sauce over them and hustle ’em over to your waiting guests.
Wait patiently for praise.  It’s coming.


* Green peppercorns alone are the classic version of this dish but mixing peppercorns – green, white and black – works just fine.

** Clarified butter is simply butter with the milk-solids removed and it’s what works best for this dish but, if you don’t want to go through the clarifying process, you could use 2 tbs of canola oil and 1 tbs of standard unsalted butter.

*** If you like some show in your cooking, you can ignite the cognac (again,  . . . carefully) as it will flame spectacularly.  It doesn’t “burn off” the alcohol as the alcohol is already being released from the cognac (or brandy).  It just lights the fumes which would otherwise dissipate.

Published in: on July 20, 2009 at 11:28 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. amazing stuff thanx 🙂

  2. Best you could change the post subject Puriri-ent Interest Winegourmet’s Blog to something more better for your content you write. I enjoyed the post even sononetheless.

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