“Chef’s appetites and enthusiasms, you may have noticed, rarely end with food. I am deeply suspicious of any cook who is less than enthusiastic as well about music, movies, travel-and LIFE.”
- Anthony Bourdain
It’s no secret that music has been a huge part of my personal and professional life. On any given day, at any given point, my iPod is traveling with me, and in most cases, in my back pocket. My life certainly has a soundtrack. It all started when I was a little boy. My father is an extremely talented and amazing musician so I was naturally raised with an appreciation for good music.
I’m a huge fan of the Dave Matthews Band. My iTunes library is full of live and studio releases and it’s usually a good guess that it’s what I’m listening to at any given moment. A few weeks ago while shopping for wine, I stumbled upon a new release of sorts. It’s a wine from Dave Matthews called The Dreaming Tree. The bottle of red that I selected was called Crush. It seemed as a no brainer that I had to try it out. At first taste, I was stunned. The wine had tremendous legs, full-bodied flavor with hints of red and black berries. It was a true hit. (Pun certainly intended.) I knew right away that this would be a great wine not only for drinking but cooking as well.
In this recipe, I encourage you to give it a shot! Trust me on this one; it’s well worth it.
Seared Sirloin, braised Lentils and Kale finished
with a Beurre Rouge sauce.
2 cups lentils
1 yellow onion, small dice
2 carrots, peeled and small dice
3 celery stalks, small dice
4 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup The Dreaming Tree, Crush
6 cups water or no sodium vegetable stock
3 bunches of kale, rough chop
In a medium sized stockpot, heat 2 ounces of olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot or ripples, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Little note, this is not the time to be playing “Words with Friends” or tweeting about your culinary greatness. I need you to focus here. If you take your eye off the garlic and pepper flakes you will undoubtedly burn them and have to start all over. This can, and will get out of hand quickly so don’t lose focus. When the garlic has turned a nice caramel color, add in the mire poix. (Carrots, onions and celery. Mire poix is the French term for these three ingredients.) Sweat the mire poix on medium high heat until the onions have begun to caramelize. After a few good stirs with your high heat spatula, add in the tomato paste and once again, caramelize the tomato paste.
Now, could you add all of the ingredients at once and just turn the heat on? Why yes you could, but it’s essential to note that we are creating deep flavor here. If you don’t take the time to do the initial caramelization process, your flavors will be muted and you, as well as the final product will be the sore losers.
When the tomato paste has turned a deep burgundy color, add in the red wine and deglaze. If you’ve read any of my past articles, you already know about the importance of deglazing the stockpot. Don’t make me call upon my little chef for a refresher course. She’s a junior in high school and knows all about this stuff so I suggest you get yourself up to speed! After a few minutes on medium high heat, the red wine will have reduced by half. Add in the lentils along with the water or vegetable stock. Bring this watery bath to a nice slow simmer and add in the chopped kale. Slap on the lid, leaving a little room for moisture to escape, turn the heat down to medium low and begin the prep for cooking the sirloin.
2- Sirloin steaks, 8-ounces
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup The Dreaming Tree, Crush
½ cup low sodium beef stock or water
1 knob of butter
To cook the sirloin, season the steaks with simple sea salt and fresh cracked peppercorns. This might be a good time to replace your peppercorns. Chances are, you haven’t replaced your peppercorns since the Bush administration so it’s probably time for change. It’s also a good idea to remove the steaks from the fridge the moment you begin the braising process of the lentils. I always feel it is a good thing to allow the steaks to come to a comfortable room temperature before searing. Unless you’re inviting the health inspector over for dinner, no one will judge you!
In a medium sized sauté pan, heat an ounce of olive oil on medium high heat. When the olive oil begins to ripple, add in a small knob of room temperature butter. I know, I know we’re cutting calories here but trust me on this one. It’s going to be fine. When the butter begins to sizzle, gently rest your sirloin in the sauté pan. You might want to use tongs to do this. The oil has a tendency to splatter when you add the steaks and trust me here, hot oil splatter on tongs is much more pleasant than hot oil splatter on your hands!
After about two minutes, flip the steaks in your sauté pan. One side note, it’s totally fine to do this in batches. If you’re cooking more than two steaks, repeat the process for the next two and so forth. Do not, let me repeat, DO NOT overcrowd the sauté pan. It will only lead to oil losing it’s temperature and you’ll never get the good sear marks that is essential to creating flavor! When both sides of the steaks have a nice crust formed from the peppercorns, transfer the steaks to your sheet pan and place in a 375-degree oven.
To make the sauce. I understand the tendency to clean the sauté pan that you’ve just used to sear the steaks but in the truest sense of French cuisine, you must realize that there is a ton of flavor at the bottom of that sauté pan. Give the sauté pan a second to cool. When the pan has cooled, discard the butter and oil that is remaining and return to a medium heat. Add in two cloves of minced garlic and ½ minced shallot and sauté until, you guessed it they have caramelized! Add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a cup of red wine to deglaze. When the red wine has reduced by half, add a half-cup of low sodium beef stock. If you don’t have beef stock, it is certainly fine to use water. Bring the sauce to a slow simmer and use a whisk to ensure that all of the components have become incorporated. You’ll notice after a minute of simmering that the sauce will begin to develop a nice body, meaning that it will coat the back of a spoon. When the body begins to develop, remove from the heat and add in a last knob of butter. Use your whisk to emulsify the butter and season with salt and pepper.
When the steaks have been in the oven for five or six minutes, remove the sheet pan and transfer the steaks to a clean plate. If you don’t remove them from the sheet pan, the steaks will continue to cook because of the heat from the sheet pan. We’re looking for a nice medium rare finish so it’s essential to stop the cooking process.
After about 20 minutes of braising, your lentils should be done. Give them a taste test to make sure you’ve thoroughly cooked them through and seasoned properly. When the lentils are soft, yet still having a nice texture, remove the lentils from the heat.
To plate. Use a slotted spoon and place a nice pillow of braised lentil and kale goodness in the middle of your finest white-rimmed bowl or square plate. In the photo I sliced half of the sirloin and gently laid it over the mound of lentils. This is certainly up to you. I like showing off, so I sliced the steak to reveal its beautiful pink center.
To finish the dish, pour your perfectly executed red wine butter sauce or Beurre Rouge as the French would call it, at the bottom of your mound of lentils and enjoy! While you’re at it, pour me another glass of wine, we deserve it!