Just about everyone who has ever met my wife shares the same opinion: she is an incredibly intelligent and talented person. They also usually share the same question: “How on earth were you able to end up with her?” The answer to that is quite simple: while she is better than me in almost every measurable category, I am much better than she is at marrying.
Luckily, my wife realized this fairly early on in our relationship (yet still stayed around—see above comment on her ability to choose a husband) and shaped her expectations accordingly. For instance, I was in charge of precisely two elements of our wedding: getting a tux and (surprise) selecting the wine.
When we moved to Texas and decided to build a new house, I was once again in charge of precisely two things: the (surprise) wine cellar and the outdoor kitchen. To call it a “kitchen” is a bit of a stretch as there is only a sink, a mini-refrigerator, and a grill, which is precisely why my wife felt that she could leave it up to me.* There was only so much damage that I could do.
*[I say that the decisions were entirely mine, but I had exactly zero contact with the builder, so it is entirely possible that my wife changed everything I decided upon anyway. I have no way of knowing—my memory is not all that, wait, what was I talking about?]
Shortly after we moved into the house, there was another decision I made that I can say (and have said repeatedly) actually changed my life: I bought an immersion circulator, or a “sous vide machine” in more common parlance. For those that don’t know, an immersion circulator (we bought the Anova, but there are many on the market these days) cooks food in a water bath at low temperature for an extended period.
I have always loved to cook, and I am particularly fond of using an outdoor grill and the immersion circulator is a near perfect match. It takes almost all the guess-work out of grilling as the meat is already cooked to the perfect temperature, all that is needed is a little color, a little seer from the grill, which literally takes under two minutes if you can get your grill hot enough (some people prefer to do said searing in a cast iron pan on the stove, and that is fine for the agoraphobic types).
I can’t count the number of times that I spent a boatload of cash on expensive meat only to over cook it in the time that it took me to run inside and refill my glass. Now, after an hour or so sous vide, I fire up the grill, pour myself a glass of bubbly, and the steaks are perfectly cooked before I even get to the bottom of the first glass.
Recently, the kind folks at Tenuta Il Poggione in Montalcino asked me to make some steak Florentine to pair with their Rosso di Montalcino, what many refer to as a “baby Brunello.” So here are the steps I took, from beginning to end, using my favorite toy, the Anova Immersion Circulator and my impeccably designed outdoor kitchen (yes, I am taking full credit for it despite having no idea if I deserve it).
Last, a little vino, which was provided by Tenuta Il Poggione:
2016 Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino: Retail $35. 100% Sangiovese. The wine is produced from the estate’s younger vines (hence the “baby Brunello” moniker), the grapes are harvested by hand and aged in French oak after a stainless steel fermentation. Fairly light in the glass with aromas of black raspberry, tobacco, and a bit of pine. On the palate, this is delightful. Bright fruit, great acidity, a bit of earth. This is quite nice and a near perfect pairing with the steak Florentine. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.