With their prominent tannins, Cabernet and Nebbiolo are asking to be aged. With time, their tannins mellow and harmonize, yielding some attention to the wine’s other attributes, like shades of fruit and spice. Cabernets develop notes of cigar box, cocoa and cedar, while Nebbiolos show tobacco, leather, truffle and dried flowers. Both are best paired with rich dishes. These pairings also are terrific with aged Bordeaux, especially Cabernet-dominant bottles from the Left Bank.
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Combining flavor and tenderness, ribeye steaks are a special occasion in themselves. This pairing is like a yin-and-yang relationship: The tannins in Nebbiolo or Cabernet temper the indulgence of the richly marbled beef, while the fat in turn softens the austere tannins. A good truffle butter amps up the luxury factor but also brings out complex flavors from both the meat and the wine. Nebbiolo and white truffle is a classic combination, but Cabernet’s herbal quality is a natural with it as well.
In this recipe, the boneless steaks cook uniformly and are easier to slice than their bone-in counterparts. Buy the very best quality meat you can find and truffle butter that’s made with real truffles, not truffle oil or “essence.” Urbani makes real truffle butters that are widely available in specialty markets and via mail order; either white or black truffle butter will work.
- 2 boneless ribeye steaks, at least 1½ inches thick, 12–16 ounces each
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons truffle butter
Pat steaks dry. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for one hour.
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Heat large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Coat bottom of pan with oil, then add steaks. Brown deeply on both sides, 2–3 minutes per side. Transfer pan to oven. Cook until instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the center of one steak reads 130˚F for medium-rare (start checking after 10 minutes).
Transfer steaks to a cutting board. Add one tablespoon truffle butter to skillet (the residual heat will melt it); swirl with any pan juices and pour over steaks. Cover loosely with foil and let rest 5–10 minutes. Slice against the grain and serve with remaining truffle butter over the top. Serves 4–6.