Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dinner: Really Old-Fashioned Marinated Rib-Eye

For ninth grade Latin class we had to do a project about life in ancient Rome. Latin and I were not friends. But for one brief moment, I shined. That moment was when I presented my class with a multiple course Roman dinner.

When I read Mark Bittman's article A Venetian Bath of Wine and Spice I was transported back to that moment. Reading the recipe for Really Old-Fashioned Marinated Rib-Eye I could recall the smell of red wine and cloves and nutmeg filling the refrigerator for days as we (me, my project partner Anna, and our mothers - who probably bore the brunt of this experiment) marinated enough steak for fifteen people.

If we were still in Bloomington, Indiana, I wouldn't have thought twice about making this dish. I would have immediately run down to Bloomingfoods, picked up some reasonably priced, local, organic, heirloom, free-range steak and started marinating. But life is not so simple here in North Orange County. Luckily this recipe was published shortly before Super Bowl Sunday. I took advantage of the reduced traffic to venture to thw Whole Foods in Tustin, ostensibly on a hunt for the elusive fèves. But then I saw the meat department and thought, "I can't remember the last time we had red meat." Not remembering what Bittman's recipe called for, I bought a pound of organic, free-range skirt steak instead of rib-eye. And knowing full well that the recipe called for "rich, full-bodied red wine, preferably Amarone," I went and bought a three dollar bottle of Trader Joe's Merlot (seriously, they have their own label).

I marinated the skirt steak for a full three days, as recommended. I should have known from David's complaints about the smell of the marinade that he wouldn't like it. I think I've discovered he doesn't like cloves and nutmeg. And he hates food that tastes of alcohol, like liquor in desserts. Not that the end result tasted alcohol-y. I just think he associated the end result with the smell of the wine in the fridge.

I wasn't in love with it either, but I definitely sensed the potential. With a juicier cut of beef and a wine with more nuanced flavor than grape grape grape (again, total flashback to the non-alcoholic spiced wine we made for the Latin project), this would have made a lovely winter grilled steak. It's a nice change of marinade from your basic steak sauce.

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Rebecca said...

I'm with David on the hatred of nutmeg. It is a truly evil spice. Just the smell of it makes me gag.

I'm surprised that with 3 days of wine marination that the steak wasn't super tender and juicy, no matter what the cut.

We had hamburgers last week. They were so good. I think they were like 30% fat, but they were worth it.

Sarah said...

I undersold my results. The steak was pretty darned tender for skirt steak.

Mmm . . . 30% fat hamburgers. I can't remember the last time I had one of those.

I picked up some stew beef at Whole Foods so I think my next red meat dish is going to be a winter stew. We ate it weekly in the winters in Indiana, but it's hard to eat hearty food when it's 90 degrees out and you can see a palm tree from your kitchen window.

Yeah, I know. Poor me. :)