Fire On The Mountain

We went to Vermont for one night, which wasn’t enough, but will have to do for the time being. Driving up we got to experience the steepening gradient from still-luminescent foliage in our area to the more austere landscape that latitude and altitude combine to bestow upon the Green Mountains at this time of year. The bases of most mountains still had some color, but it faded up to the browns, greys, and dark greens of bare branches, rocks, and conifers, all of which were overlayed with the purples and oranges of the late afternoon sun. It’s the kind of sight, especially with a sharp edge to the breeze and the shade, that makes one want to light a fire and tuck into some serious comfort food.

After a stop at a good farm stand, and a local market that has good meat, we were well-equipped to do just that. I cut russet potatoes into fries, and set some broccoli to steam. The fries, cooked in two batches twice each, were pretty insane; I had to use a few different oils since I had forgotten to buy any. So I combined canola, hazelnut, and olive, and cooked each batch a little differently, so half were super-crunchy and the other half were still meltingly tender in the middle.

Christine had the idea to caramelize onions as a garnish for the steak, so we did, and then seared up a couple of lovely ribeyes in the same pan with a little added butter. I deglazed it with a little soy sauce and balsamic vinegar and poured that over the meat and onions. Drool. Now normally I would use a splash of red wine for the sauce, but I was not going to part with even a drop of the 1999 Lisini Brunello that I pulled out of the basement; the 99s are gorgeous right now, and I put all the rest (along with other treats) into the car to help get us through the cold months ahead.



14 comments to Fire On The Mountain

  • The Spiteful Chef

    Seriously, where do you get all of this wine? I drink it less frequently than you do, drink far lower quality than you, and only ever have three or four bottles in the wine cooler, and it STILL comprises a big ol’ chunk of the grocery budget. You must be a magician.

    Your fries looked decent. What did you dip them in?

  • Zoomie

    The onions were pure genius – lifted steak and frites to a new and glorious level, I bet.

  • cookiecrumb

    So, let’s see. Meat, potatoes, onions and wine.
    What’s not to like?

  • cook eat FRET

    i am thinking peter is a wealthy boy but he’s not telling… or he is a drug dealer. something must be supporting his wine habit, you are right…

    how do you make the fries and not have it be a total mess? i need to use a pot with higher sides.

    do you keep a mandoline in all 3 residences?

    it’s starting to get fun to tease you…

  • Jennifer

    Really curious about the wine as well…”In the basement” sounds so smug. What esle do you keep down there?

  • peter

    Kristie: After my Mom died I bought a lot of wine. At the time it seemed like profligate self-indulgence, but now it’s turned out to be a very savvy investment; some of them have outperformed almost everything else so I’m going to sell them. The rest, we drink.

    The basement is 55˚ and damp all year round, so it’s the perfect place to keep things that I really want to forget that I own for 5 or 10 years. And since we’re planning on a lean winter, it seems like a good time to save money by drinking the good stuff that’s ready to go.

    If you want to save money on wine, always buy by the case. Haggle for a good discount from a good store, and throw a couple of cheap-ass cooking bottles in there to help keep it affordable. I made a deal with my local joint in Brooklyn so they waived sales tax if I paid cash.

    Zoomie: The onions were the coup de grace on the steack frites. I’ve always hated the way they spell that in France.

    CC: Not a whole lot. The broccoli was good, too.

    Claudia: The oil spatters some, but the stove up there is radiant, so the glass cleans easily. I cut them by hand, thank you very much. You’re still mad about the lesbian comment, I guess.

    Jennifer: The basement is more snug than smug. Sometimes there are enormous salamanders down there.

  • Zen Chef

    Those are damn good-looking ribeyes. Drool indeed! I’m dying to have a damp basement where to keep my wine. You lucky guy!
    Have you tried the Mocali Brunello di Montalcino 2000? One of my all-time favorite. Smokeyy!

  • Heather

    Steak frites, what can’t you do?

    Peter’s secret is that he’s a kept man. We all know his lovely wife brings home the bacon, and he’s her artist-private chef/gardener-baby daddy. Wink emoticon.

  • Jen of A2eatwrite

    That looks like the perfect fall/winter meal. I so miss Vermont.

  • peter

    Zen: Nice to see you again. The basement is great, especially since we don’t have one here. My dreams of curing whole pig legs will have to wait until we move. Haven’t tried the Mocali, but I will look for it.

    Heather: You have NO IDEA how much I wish that were true.

    Jen: Yeah, Vermont is pretty wonderful- particularly in summer and fall.

  • bb

    The food looks great, but the Brunello sounds even better! I love the late ’90′s bottles right now. Crazy sangiovese. I had a ’98 La Gerla last week that absolutely rocked! I’m guessing your bottle nailed it with the ribeyes.

  • Maryann

    Ribeye..my favorite cut! Smothered in onions is even better. Medium rare, please :)

  • peter

    BB: Brunellos are pure pleasure. And they love a steak.

    Maryann: I like it too, though I prefer bone-in. And rare. Soon it’s time for a rib roast…

  • Brittany

    ribeye is always my steak of choice for steak frites. Usually my steak of choice for anything, being as it’s my favorite food in the whole world.

    That first picture of the 2 beauties in the pan is goregous. I would like it bown up, framed, and placed on the ceiling above my bed.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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