The Best Ways to Pair Steak with Cabernet
Luckily, both categories offer a lot of variation, so this classic match never gets boring. We talked to chefs and sommeliers across the country about their favorite steaks, and which Cabernet proves the ultimate complement. Read on to find your new favorite couple.
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Courtesy Joseph Rizza, executive chef, Prime & Provisions, Chicago
The Kansas City strip—with the bone in, a nice rim of fat on the outside and quality marbling throughout—is a meat lovers’ dream. At Prime & Provisions in Chicago, Executive Chef Joseph Rizza uses dry-aged steak for a more concentrated, meaty flavor. If your butcher dry ages in-house, you’re encouraged to follow Rizza’s lead. Bonus: This recipe will teach how to get that perfect crosshatch pattern on your meat.
- 1 18-ounce Kansas City strip steak
- Kosher salt
- Fresh-cracked black pepper
- Olive oil
Approximately 30 minutes before cooking, remove steak from refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature.
Warm grill to maximum heat, 550–600˚F. Season steak evenly with salt and pepper on both sides. Brush grill grates with olive oil. Place steak on grill and lower heat slightly. Cook for 2 minutes, and then rotate 90˚ and cook for another 2 minutes. Flip steak, and cook for 2 minutes. Rotate 90˚ and cook until probe thermometer inserted into thickest part of steak registers 125˚F for medium rare. Remove steak from heat. Let rest 6–8 minutes. Serves 2.
Chappellet 2015 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). “When pairing wine with steak, the answer is usually easy—big reds,” says Adam Sweders, head sommelier at Prime & Provisions. “But let’s analyze this a bit for a specific choice within that very broad spectrum. . .You’re best taking a fruit-forward approach with the wine, something with a ripened sense to tone down the spice. Be careful as to not go too ripe though, because you’ll slowly head into high-alcohol wines that will combat the spice. So, we head to the mountains of Napa. Slightly cooler, lower alcohol, still-ripened fruit. With the less-ripened fruit and mountain soils, a certain degree of the earth will be able to shine.”
Courtesy Ryan Ratino, founder and executive chef, Bresca, Washington, D.C.
Filet mignon is the round cut taken from the loin end that’s known for its tenderness and delicate flavor. At Bresca in Washington, D.C., Executive Chef Ryan Ratino uses funky pickled and fermented ingredients to contrast the other, impeccably fresh components in his cooking. In this dish, he uses koji, the fermented culture used to make saké, miso and soy sauce, to amp up the beef’s flavor. Koji is available in Asian markets and online. The rest of the method here, and the pairing, are pretty classic. It’s a fun twist on an old standby.
- 2 8-ounce filets mignon
- 2 tablespoons ground koji
- Kosher salt
Rub filets with koji. Refrigerate for 48 hours.
Remove filets from refrigerator. Season heavily on both sides with kosher salt, and let sit for 30 minutes. Warm cast iron pan over medium heat. Sear steak for 6 minutes. Flip steak and cook 6 minutes, or until probe thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 125˚F for medium rare. Serves 2.
Château de France 2014 Pessac-Léognan. Apologies to the purists: Ratino likes a blend. From the Graves region of Bordeaux, this Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot has intense, concentrated plum flavors that will match well with the filet. Underneath the dense fruit is a hint of toasty almond, a perfect answer to the koji’s funk.
Courtesy Craig and Samantha Cordts-Pearce, co-owners, Steakhouse No. 316, Aspen, CO
There’s no more photogenic cut than this ribeye, which sports an extra length of bone left attached. Plenty of marbling means this steak tends to be very tender and flavorful. Here, that flavor is cranked up even further by an herby compound butter. Marrow bones are available at good butcher shops, so all that’s required is a little scooping, although you’ll still have plenty of oomph without it.
- 3 marrow bone halves
- 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
- 8 ounces unsalted butter
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
- 3 ounces blue cheese, preferably Point Reyes Bay
- 1 32-ounce tomahawk ribeye
- 1 tablespoon oil
Place marrow bones on baking sheet, cut side up. Broil until browned. Remove from oven, and let cool. Scoop out marrow. Combine with rosemary and thyme.
Dice butter into small cubes, and place in stand mixer equipped with paddle attachment. Whip until slightly airy, then add marrow, salt and pepper. Remove butter from mixer, and place in bowl. Fold in blue cheese gently, maintaining some of its crumbled texture. This can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated.
Heat oven to 450˚F. Warm large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Add oil to pan, and place steak in oil carefully. Cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes, until bottom is well browned. Flip, and repeat. Transfer to oven. Cook, flipping once, until probe thermometer inserted into thickest part of steak registers 125˚F for medium rare, about 25 minutes. Slice, if you like, and top with butter (you may not use it all). Serves 4.
Gaja 2010 Darmagi (Langhe). Sonya Lutgring, wine director/sommelier at Steakhouse No. 316, says that Cabernet Sauvignon from Italy’s Piedmont region, known largely for Nebbiolo, shows earthiness and complexity. “The 2010 is stunning and pairs perfectly with the tomahawk ribeye,” she says. “The marbling of the meat tames the tannins in the wine. The red and blue fruit complement the richness of the cut. A match made in heaven.”
Courtesy Junghyun “JP” Park, chef and co-owner, Atomix, New York City
In New York City, Atomix serves a Korean tasting menu in a sleek, subterranean setting. A New York strip is from the same loin-end cut as a Kansas City strip, minus the bone. This recipe has plenty of fine-dining flourishes to enhance the steak’s umami and add a little spice. A Cabernet from Mendoza matches that zesty nuance.
- ½ cup soju or vodka
- ¼ cup mirin
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 8- to 10-ounce New York strip
- steaks (about 1½-inches thick)
- Seaweed sauce (recipe below)
- Horseradish relish (recipe below)
Combine soju, mirin, salt, garlic and ½ cup water. Let steaks marinate in mixture for 1–2 minutes.
Warm heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Working in batches of 1 or 2 steaks, sear both sides until brown. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes more on each side, or until probe thermometer inserted into thickest part of steak registers 125˚F for medium rare.
Let steaks rest for at least 5 minutes. Slice steaks across the grain. Spoon seaweed sauce onto plates. Arrange steak slices on top and dollop with horseradish relish. Place chopped romaine (recipe below) with brown butter on top of or next to steak. Serves 2–4.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 10 broken-up sheets gim (nori seaweed)
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Combine sugar, soy sauce, water, gim, canola oil and toasted sesame oil in blender and blend until smooth.
- 2 tablespoons fresh-grated or jarred horseradish
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
In bowl, mix together horseradish, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, canola oil and 1 teaspoon sugar.
- 1 heart of romaine
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½tablespoon pine nuts
- ⅛ teaspoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon fresh parsley minced
Halve romaine lengthwise. Warm skillet over high heat. Place romaine halves into skillet, ribs side down. Cook until charred, 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt, to taste.
In skillet over low heat, toast pine nuts. Set aside. Melt butter over medium-low heat, and continue cooking. When butter begins to froth, reduce heat to low. Stir constantly until brown, 5–7 minutes. Add pine nuts, salt and sugar. Remove from heat, and stir in parsley. Pour over romaine to serve. Serves 2–4.
Carmelo Patti 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza). “It’s pretty special when your current release is a decade old,” says Jhonel Faelnar, sommelier and beverage director at Atomix, of this Luján de Cuyo Cabernet. “This is rustic and rugged in all the right ways, with bright acidity and a surprising medium-bodied style that sets it apart. Classic jalapeño and paprika flavors match well with the mild spice in the horseradish and the savory romaine hearts. Chewy tannins aren’t an issue here, as they refresh the palate with every bite.”
These temperature guidelines will help you get your steak exactly how you like it
Medium rare: 125–135˚F
Medium well: 155–165˚F
Well done: 170˚F
For cooking steak, there are two important pieces of advice
- Buy quality steak from a good butcher. The meat will be the main source of flavor, so you want it to be delicious.
- Use a probe thermometer to measure doneness. No two ovens, grills or pieces of meat are the same, so cooking times are an estimate.
- 1Kansas City Strip
- 2Koji-Rubbed Filet Mignon
- 3Tomahawk Ribeye with Blue Cheese Bone Marrow Butter
- 4New York Strip with Seaweed Sauce
- 5Steak Cooking Tips and Temperatures