The Michael Mondavi family purchased its Atlas Peak property in 1999. In keeping with Mondavi family traditions, its farming adheres to sustainable and organic standards. The family believes the best grapes come from healthy vineyards, and itendeavors to maintain the health of the Napa Valley ecosystem for future generations.
Today, winemaking is led by Michael’s son and fourth-generation vintner, Rob Mondavi Jr. He and his team produce a limited range of wines under the Isabel Mondavi, Emblem, Animo and “M” by Michael Mondavi labels.
The Animo vineyard (named after the vineyard where it originates, and which means “heart” or “spirit” in Italian), purchased and planted in the mid-1990s, is located high atop Atlas Peak on 15 acres of rocky, volcanic soil. It sits on a steep canyon overlooking Foss Valley. The grapes are hand harvested and aged in barrels for 20 months before bottling.
Michael Mondavi feels the 2010 Animo Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect pairing for this rib eye and porcini recipe by Sarah Scott, which also appears in her book, Wild Table. “This pair plays well together because the full-bodied mountain fruit character of the 2010 Animo Cabernet Sauvignon reflects the deep, earthy qualities of the porcini. There’s also a beautifully elegant contrast of sweet and savory between the wine and this dish. The Animo Cabernet Sauvignon offers a bright, juicy berry nuance that balances the heavily savory aspects of the rib-eye and mushrooms.”
Scott suggests preparing the meat one day prior to cooking for best results.
Porcini-Dusted Rib Eye with Porcini Butter and Grilled Porcini
Four 8-ounce or two 16-ounce rib-eye steaks (1.5to 2 inches thick)
Season the steaks generously all over with salt, pepper, and 1/2teaspoon of the porcini powder per steak. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator one hour before cooking.
Prepare a grill to medium heat. Place the oil and garlic in a small bowl. Slice the porcini into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place on a baking sheet and brush with the oil mixture on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
Grill the rib eyes for seven to eight minutes per side for medium rare, or until the internal temperature is 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. When done, divide the porcini butter among the steaks, spooning it on top and letting it melt into the steaks as they rest. Hold in a warm place while you grill the porcini.
Place the porcini slices on the grill and cook for two to three minutes per side, or until tender and golden brown. Slice the steaks or serve them whole on plates or a platter, topped and surrounded by the grilled porcini. Sprinkle the fleur de sel and chives over the top.
(Makes 1/2 cup)
1/2ounce dried porcini mushrooms, grit free
Break up any large pieces of dried mushrooms into pieces that will fit into the grinder easily.Grind the mushrooms to a fine powder. Place a regular-mesh strainer over a bowl and add the ground mushrooms. Sift. Regrind any pieces that don’t pass through the strainer the first time.
When all the mushrooms have been ground and sifted through the first strainer, place the powder in a fine-mesh strainer and sift again. Regrind any pieces left in the strainer and sift again to achieve the finest powder possible. Discard any bits that don’t pass through the strainer. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. The powder will keep for up to three months.
(Makes 1 cup)
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed to remove any fine sand or grit
1/2pound (two sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon porcini powder
1/2teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/8teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Place the porcini mushrooms and 1 cup cold water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
Drain the mushrooms, saving the liquid. Press on the porcini to extract all the liquid. Set aside the mushrooms. Return the porcini liquid to the saucepan and place over medium high heat. Cook to reduce the liquid to 1 tablespoon. Remove from heat and set aside.
Finely mince the rehydrated mushrooms. Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for one to two minutes. Add the garlic and cook for two to three more minutes, or until the garlic is softened. Stir in the reserved mushroom liquid and cool to room temperature.
Place the mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor. Process until very finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Cut the remaining two sticks of butter into eight pieces. Add to the food processor along with the porcini powder, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Pulse together until the butter is creamy and the mushrooms are evenly incorporated. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or lemon juice as needed.
Roll the butter into a log and wrap in plastic wrap or place in an airtight storage container. The butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. It can also be frozen for up to one month.
Tips and Techniques
Seasoning the steaks a day ahead allows time for the flavors to penetrate beyond the surface of the meat, giving them a more delicious taste when grilled. Let them rest for at least six to eight minutes before serving for optimal tenderness and juiciness.
Substitutions and Variations
Any cut of steak suitable for grilling can be substituted for the rib eyes. Season them in the same way, the day before, and grill according to the specific cut. King oyster mushrooms are the best substitute for porcini. They’re particularly good if brushed with oil and dusted with porcini powder. Portobellos, chanterelles or other meaty mushrooms work well, too.
[Photos by Sara Remington, except bottle shot by Duncan Garrett Photography]
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