How many recipes have you saved to make “someday”? I have hundreds. And with January gone, I needed to get a jump on my resolution to delve into the collection I have amassed. First up – Beef with Cilantro-Wine Sauce & Mashed Yuca, from the glossy, inspired pages of Food & Wine Magazine.
I chopped and prepared the vegetables for the sauce: red onion, chiles and tomatoes. I couldn’t find a red chile, so I substituted a jalapeno. Then I added the spices, throwing in a few extra cloves for more intensity, followed by the wine and broth, and set it to simmer. I chose a Tempranillo for the sauce base, because of its full body and herbiness. Spiced wine and fried onion aromas hung heavy in the air.
Meanwhile I started on the yuca, a food I have enjoyed in the past but never prepared myself. In doing a little research I found there are many ways to prepare this root vegetable, also known as Cassava. Grown throughout the world, it’s a hearty starch and a dietary staple. I’m pretty confident shopping the produce section, but I had to double-check with a clerk to ensure I had chosen the right root. It was waxy, heavy and dark brown with an irregular, oblong shape.
Once at home, I peeled the yuca and tried to slice into it. No luck. With vegetables that are difficult to cut, I give them a quick spin in the microwave to soften them. After 1.5 minutes the yuca was easy to cut and the cubes were ready in no time. I ushered them into the bubbling pot.
Instead of beef tenderloin, I decided to broil a basic flank steak for it’s “meatier” texture. I gave it a light sprinkle of salt and pepper, broiled it for five minutes on each side, until it was a perfect medium rare (1.5 in. thick), then removed it from the oven.
As the meat rested, I prepared the cooked yuca. It’s similar to making mashed potatoes, but with some “gumminess.” I added extra milk for a creamier mash. To add a little green to our meal, I roasted a handful of brussel sprouts: quartered, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper then roasted for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, for extra crispiness. I dressed the plates with a hefty pillow of mashed yuca, thinly sliced steak and brussel sprout chips, and spooned the sauce on top.
I had invited my sister to join me. She brought over a beautiful bottle of Muga Rioja, a Spanish red wine. It was aged just a few years, with full, bright red fruit. The medium tannins were a good match for the steak, but didn’t overpower the lighter-than-anticipated sauce.
Overall this meal is a keeper! Yuca is a great alternative to potatoes for a mashed side. The roasted steak and brussel sprouts did not disappoint. The sauce, however, needed a bigger punch and a thicker consistency. If you choose to make this at home, I would suggest thickening the sauce with a roux and doubling up on the spices. For a more decadent sauce, add a bit of heavy cream after removing the sauce from the burner. Get the recipe >>
Wine Pairing Suggestions: The inspiration for this dish is a Peruvian stew called Seco. For a meaty dish with traces of spice, red wines like Spanish Rioja or Tempranillo are great. Portugal is producing some fantastic Portuguese red wines and value prices – look for a red wine from Alentejo.