Stuffed pasta such as ravioli can probably be classified as my signature dish. I love to prepare them and I love to eat them. Twice a year I organize a wine & food extravaganza for my friends — two evenings with a multi-course dinner with two different paired wines with each course to compare them and find out which one is the best match. After the Burgundy theme earlier this year, it is now time for the Italian region of Piemonte. Piemonte is the home of great wines such as Barolo and the home of great Italian food. After the Barolo Chinato (which I will serve with the dessert) I wrote about yesterday, today’s post is about the one of the primi piatti (pasta dishes) I will serve during my serata piemontese: Agnolotti.
MRIJ stands for Maas-Rijn-IJssel, a breed of cattle named after the region in which it was bred: where the three rivers Maas (Meuse), Rijn (Rhine) and IJssel (Issel) meet. This piece of T-bone steak is very tasty for two reasons: (1) because the MRIJ breed has a lot of intramuscular fat (aka ‘marbling’) and because it has been dry-aged. The intramuscular fat makes the beef more juicy and carries a lot of taste. Dry-aging means that the beef has been hung to dry for several weeks, thus concentrating the flavor and taste and allowing the beef’s natural enzymes to break down the connective tissue, making it more tender. It also means that the meat is less juicy, so sous-vide is an excellent method to cook the meat while losing as little additional moisture as possible. Dry-aged beef is mostly available in specialized steak houses only, but you might be able to find it in upscale butcher shops. In Amsterdam you can find dry-aged rib steak at Landmarkt, but that is not marbled as much as this MRIJ. (Please note that this looks more like L-bone than T-bone because one of three bones is missing. That is because in the Netherlands it is compulsory to remove the bone that is connected to the spine to rule out any risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob.) I picked up this piece from Jan Dirk Zonnenberg. The preparation described in this post can be used for T-bone or rib steaks of other breeds than MRIJ or that have not been dry-aged as well, but it might not be as tasty…
To enhance the flavor even more, I decided to sear the T-bone steak in its own fat. I cut off most of the layer of fat and diced it. I rubbed the steak liberally with salt and pepper. (Yes rubbing it with salt causes some loss of moisture, but salting the meat before searing allows the salt to season the beef throughout and helps with the browning of the meat.)
Then I rendered the fat from the cracklings on medium-high heat in a frying pan.
Then I removed the cracklings from the pan (you could choose to serve them with the beef) and used the rendered fat to sear the T-bone steak quickly on very high heat on both sides.
After browning I let the steak cool off on a plate. Meanwhile I discarded most of the fat from the pan and deglazed it with some red wine. After sealing the steak into a vacuum pouch, I combined the pan juices with the juices from the plate. I then cooked the T-bone steak sous-vide for 12 hours at 54C/129F. This cooking time may seem a bit long, but the result is very tender flavorful meat. To make a sauce, I heated up the preserved juices together with the juices that came out of the pouch after sous-vide cooking.
The meat came out tender with a nice ‘bite’ to it and delicious, and thanks to sous-vide evenly pink throughout as you can see in the picture. Next time I can buy dry-aged MRIJ, I definitely will do so again!
As a secondo after the primo of gnocchi al gorgonzola, we had another favorite: rack of lamb! The Dutch lamb from my local butcher is still very tender even though it’s almost December.
Ingredients for 2 servings
1 rack of lamb with 6-8 ribs
3 sprigs rosemay
salt, freshly ground black pepper
75 ml (1/3 cup) red wine
75 ml (1/3 cup) lamb stock
Preheat water bath to 54.5C/130F.
Rub the rack of lamb with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some olive oil and seal in a bag with the rosemary sprigs (one on each side). Cook in the water bath for 2-4 hours.
Take the rack of lamb out of the bag, discard rosemary. Sear the rack of lamb in a large frying pan on medium-high to high heat without added fat; fat side first to render enough fat to sear the other sides. Remove the rack of lamb when all sides have been seared (1-2 minutes per side, slightly longer on the fat side).
Deglaze the hot pan with the red wine and the lamb stock, stir and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce has thickened somewhat.
Cut the rack of lamb into individual cutlets and serve on hot plates with the sauce and a side of vegetables such as beetroot or baked cauliflower.
Wine suggestion: red burgundy or other pinot noir, preferably slightly oaked.
We had a 2008 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Rouge Les Baronnes with it, which was good but unoaked and therefore slightly on the fresh side for the lamb.