The Mrs. wanted burgers, I wanted steak. Since it way my day off, and therefore my turn to cook: STEAK IT IS (WAS)!
Hanger Steak is one of my favorite cuts of meat, however, I think my brief stay in England a few weeks ago might have impaired my ability to grill red meat to a cooking temperature of rare. I’m serious! It’s a major problem over there, with most beef being served to the texture of shoe leather. I almost considered Photoshopping the above photo to make it appear more pink than it actually is, but I decided against it.
Because Hanger Steak has such a coarse grain, it should be cooked to a temperature of absolutely no more than medium-rare (my preference is rare), and sliced on a thin bias.
I don’t want to beat myself up too much about it, because this recipe for Hanger Steaks with Wilted Spinach and Gorgonzola Sauce is one of my favorite (and simplest) meals that I’ve put together this year. The only modification made was to season the steak heavily before throwing it on the grill, using a Hickory Smoked Salt that I picked up from my new favorite culinary store here in Jacksonville, Green Man Gourmet. Check them out!
My vino choice for this particular dish was the Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir, a new brand (at least to me) that I came across just a few weeks ago, and is made for a dish like this!
The Languedoc, at least in my ever-so-humble opinion, is one of the most over-looked wine regions in all of France. There’s so much potential from this Southern French hidden gem; however, over-production has lead to the region being dubbed the “wine lake” of France: and not without good reason! This French behemoth lays claim to be the largest wine producing region in the world; but with juice being pumped out from over 700,000 planted acres of planted vineyards (over 1090 sq. miles), quality by some producers often goes by the wayside.
In a bid to right the wrongs of the Languedoc, enter British couple Mel and Janie Master, who divide their time between living in the South of France as well as California (must be nice), and have decided to devote their lives to the task of making quality wine, without sacrificing affordability.
Much like their lives, the Tortoise Creek range of wines is a project divided between French and Californian vineyards, aiming to work with individual growers with low grape yields, and less with the large cooperatives which dominate the Languedoc.
Availability is still fairly hit-and-miss on the Tortoise Creek, however the wine comes in through the Wine Sellers import company, and I’m sure your friendly local wine retailer will be more than happy to help you get hold of a bottle! Price is around $12 retail.
As far as the taste, the Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir is…….well……..not as “French” as I would have expected. It definitely has at least one foot in the “New World”, with the bright red cherry and raspberry shining through, in a nice balance to a savory component. The other (foot being in France) shows earthy, forest floor and leathery notes; but they aren’t so overwhelming as to alienate someone looking to step gently into French Pinot from who usually drinks Californian.
The Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir remains light-bodied, fruit-forward and gentle on the tannins.
The wine really picked up on the Hickory Smoked salt, and the delicately savory aspect worked immensely well with the spinach, as well as the Gorgonzola sauce.
This wasn’t a rocket-science pairing, but all-in-all I’d have to say that I rate this as a:
~ My Food & Wine Pairing Guide ~
The interaction of wine and food when tasted together has a negative impact on the senses. This is common when the food item is high in acidity, salt, bitterness, or spiciness.
Many times wine serves simply as a satisfying refreshment to accompany a certain food choice. The refreshment match may be appropriate when the food severely inhibits a good or synergistic wine choice.
These pairing situations are average and pleasant, but are missing an element of individuality and thus cannot provide a superior gastronomic experience.
In this situation, you have found a wine that matches the food item’s basic components (sweet, sour, bitter, salty) and overall body.
This essentially means the combined effect of the wine and the food paired together is superior to the sum of the individual parts.