With steak, red wine. It’s not a rule — we don’t like wine rules around here — but a simple guideline; for every rich, full-bodied white that can stand up to steak, there are dozens of red options that will do the same. If you decide to make this recipe (and you should — it’s easy and filling), try any of the three reds recommended below, which also take into account the bitter notes of the eggplant, the earthiness of the olives and the sweetness of the Italian peppers.
EGGPLANT SAUTE WITH EYE-OF-ROUND STEAK
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 8 small eggplant, cubed; cook, stirring, until soft, about 15 minutes. Add 4 tomatoes, chopped; cook until beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Add 2 green Italian sweet peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces; cook 2 minutes. Stir in 12 Kalamata olives, quartered; 1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs (basil, thyme, oregano); and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook 2-3 minutes. Cook 4 eye-of-round steaks in a skillet in 1 tablespoon oil, 1-2 minutes per side. Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup red wine. Serve steaks with the sauce and topped with eggplant mixture. Makes: 4 servings
Recipe by Joe Gray
Pairings by sommelier Aaron McManus of Oriole, as told to Michael Austin:
▪ 2013 Girolamo Russo ‘a Rina Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy: A blend of nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio, this wine has flavors of red cherries, strawberries, plum, dried flowers, leather and cedar box, with slightly smoky and earthy undertones. It is medium-bodied with firm tannins, and the smoky notes will be a good match for the seared steak. The soft fruit flavors will help contrast the bitterness of eggplant, and the earthiness will complement the olives.
▪ 2013 Dashe Cellars Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, Sonoma, Calif.: This aromatic wine offers raspberry, blackberry, fig, black pepper, potting soil, anise, vanilla, coffee, chocolate and cinnamon. Lively on the palate, it shows sweet, fruity qualities while finishing with spice and earthiness. The sweet fruit will match well with the sweet Italian peppers and the ripe tomatoes, but the wine also has enough structure to complement the richness of the steak without overpowering it.
▪ 2011 Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Riserva, Chianti, Italy: With aromas of sour cherry, cranberry, raspberry, tomato leaf, red flowers, rosemary, fennel, thyme and spice box, this sangiovese is a natural pairing. Tannins are present but velvety, and the fruit is fresh, meaning it will cut the eggplant’s bitterness. Green herb and fennel flavors in the wine will match the dish’s mixed herbs, and the wine’s tomato notes will marry the dish’s stewed tomatoes.