November 4, 2019
-by Bruce Neyers
Barbara and I just returned from a week-long sales trip, and after some time on the road, we arrived home to help wrap up the harvest. For years, Barbara has rewarded me when I return from a sales trip with an ambitious welcome home meal. This time it was grilled marinated flank steak, served with heirloom tomatoes, and my favorite potato dish — one we first encountered at the Michelin Three-Star Lameloise, in Chagny — a ‘pancake’ of thinly sliced Yukon Gold discs fried with olive oil in a cast-iron skillet. It’s a relatively easy meal, or so she tells me, but the marinade part takes several hours, so it requires some planning. She put the steak in the marinade at 1:00 Saturday afternoon, expecting to grill it later that evening. Her recipe for the marinade is below:
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves minced
Leaves from four branches of fresh thyme
Combine all of the ingredients and stir. The steak should marinate for 6 hours.
Flank steak is relatively inexpensive, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Properly marinated and grilled, I think it’s the tastiest cut of beef you can buy, and a normal grocery-sized cut can easily feed four people. There are a few time-honored secrets to cooking the flank steak, though, and I was well tutored on them by Barbara before I was allowed to grill ‘solo’. Most important is a hot fire, preferably one built with Mesquite charcoal that covers the entire bottom of the grill. I use an old-fashioned Weber kettle grill, and it’s perfect. Flank steaks are seldom cut thick, so they cook quickly and need to be closely watched. As soon as all of the briquettes are glowing bright red, use your tongs to remove the steak from the marinade, turn it over and place it on the center of the grill for two minutes. The first turn should be east to west, then after another two minutes it’s time for a turn north to south. The final two minutes follow another east to west turn. This ensures that the entire steak has seen 8 minutes of relatively even grilling, and is now medium rare.
Proper slicing is crucial too. The grain of the meat normally runs along the longest dimension, and the slicing should be diagonal, about 45 degrees, against that grain. The slices should be between 1/16” and 1/8” thick, or as Barbara tells me, “Cut it as thin as you can.” Stack the slices on a serving platter and be mindful to save the well-done pieces from the ends. Even though they appear to be overcooked, they are among the tastiest, and have a wonderful crunchy texture.
Barbara served our flank steak with sliced tomatoes – lightly bathed in Neyers Vineyards olive oil then sprinkled with sea salt – and those crispy ‘Potatoes Lameloise’. The meal was delicious and a more than satisfying ‘welcome home’ to both of us. With it, I served our Neyers Left Bank Red, a wine that we made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, grown on two parcels along the Left Bank of Conn Creek as it flows through our ranch. Over the past million years or so, the creek has brought down tons of gravel from Howell Mountain, leaving a deposit that’s about 50 feet deep. In 2014 Tadeo suggested we make a blend from these two vineyards, and I’ve been in love with the wine ever since.
One of my favorite red Bordeaux wines is Ch. Gloria, an unclassified growth from St. Julien founded in the early 1940’s by the late Henri Martin. M. Martin later became the winemaker at Ch. Latour, and then, the long-time mayor of St. Julien. Ch. Gloria is planted on one of the largest gravel deposits in the Médoc. Moreover, the blend of Ch. Gloria is about 55% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance a blend of Merlot with some Cabernet France and Petit Verdot. The gravel serves as a restraint to the natural vigor of these two grape varieties, and brings out something wonderful in both.
The first time I ever bought a full case of wine to cellar, it was the 1966 Ch. Gloria. Recently, I purchased some 2014 Ch. Gloria and wanted to try it alongside our Left Bank Red. I was amazed at the similarity. Both wines were attractively soft, and while the aromas were fruity, there was a charming combination of minerality with fresh, bright cherry flavors in each of them.
If you haven’t had the chance to try the 2017 Left Bank Red, we think you’ll like it, especially with a grilled flank steak!