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Vines & Vittles: Confessions of a red-meat eater

By John Brown

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I am flawed human being. I know this because I am married to a brutally candid woman who reminds me daily of my myriad imperfections.

Hey, I'm not complaining. If she were not critical of some of my more my aberrant idiosyncrasies, I would probably be living in a cave, wearing an animal skin and reduced to yodeling -- u-da-lay-ee-o!

However, the older I get, the more I have come to the conclusion that some of these imperfections are acceptable. No, let me rephrase that: They are essential!

I'm not endorsing really obnoxious behavior like gossiping, profanity or -- heaven forbid -- rooting for Pitt. And while I may have (once or twice) lapsed with regard to the first two infractions mentioned above, I would rather go streaking through St. Peter's Square than root for Pitt.

No, the oft-criticized behavior I am endorsing involves eating red meat on a regular basis. I know it's not politically correct to admit this, but I am addicted to red meat, particularly steak. I must consume the roasted flesh of a steer or cow at least once a week or I turn into my alter ego -- the ogre just waiting to emerge.

OK, so maybe I've engaged in a little hyperbole here, but I really do love a good steak, preferably one grilled over blazing charcoal. So while too much of a good thing like beef can be a health risk, I mitigate that problem by flushing my arteries regularly with a steady stream of red wine.

Today, I'm going to share my mouthwatering recipe for Grilled Steak Nirvana and provide you with a few nice red wine recommendations that will please your palate and transform the meal into an other worldly experience. I prefer to use rib-eye, but strip or porterhouse steak work just as well.

You might call the nice folks at Sandy Creek Farms in Ravenswood, 800-487-2569, and order one of their chemical- and antibiotic-free steaks. In Charleston, Johnnie's at the Capitol Market, 304-342-0224, has a great selection of both grass- and corn-fed beef.

Any full-bodied red wine will go well with the steak, but I prefer cabernet sauvignon or a Bordeaux blend (cabernet, merlot, cabernet franc, etc.). Here are some of my favorite labels priced between $15 and $30 a bottle: Franciscan, Sebastiani, Alamos, Alexander Valley Vineyards, St. Supery, B-Side, Robert Mondavi, BV Rutherford, William Hill, Clos Du Val and Newton Claret.

So go ahead and give it up for a little grilled nirvana and release your inner ogre.

Grilled Steak Nirvana

     1    1 1/2-inch thick bone-in rib-eye steak

     1     teaspoon olive oil

     1     tablespoon Kosher or sea salt

     1     tablespoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper

     1     small clove garlic, finely minced

COVER steak all over with the olive oil.

RUB the steak with salt, pepper and garlic. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

PREPARE a hot charcoal fire or turn one side of a gas grill up to the highest setting.

PLACE steak on grill, close lid and cook for two minutes a side.

MOVE steak off direct coals (or direct heat on grill).

COOK indirectly for 8 minutes for medium rare.

REMOVE from grill and allow to sit for 10 minutes and then serve.

For more on the art and craft of wine, visit John Brown's Vines & Vittles blog at thegazz.com.


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