If you’re gonna shell out for dry-aged wagyu, you want to make sure you’re doing it up right. Luckily, Dustin Valette, formerly of Bouchon, Hokus and Aqua, has all the tricks you need to serve up a steak as wow-worthy as his Michelin-starred résumé.
At the Matheson in Healdsburg, Valette takes full advantage of local bounty in crafting a menu of dishes that show his commitment and connection to Sonoma County, but also to the pursuit of only the best in terms of quality — a mission that’s palpable in his recipe for black pepper-crusted steak.
He begins with only the best beef: a 21-day dry-aged wagyu New York strip, which he sources from Snake River Farms. Their Gold Label Wagyu, he says, boasts particularly phenomenal marbling, leading to an incredibly rich flavor and unparalleled tenderness.
If you can’t get your hands on this particular steak, Valette says, just “trust your butcher, and ask for the best.”
You’ll also need to trust your butcher in seeking out marrow bones, which are roasted with Padrón peppers and dry-farmed marble potatoes, a tiny tater packed with flavor. While Valette admits the bones are not the easiest thing to come by, the result is worth it: They make the most incredibly rich, beefy accompaniment to the steak.
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The last element of the dish does double-duty as a side and a sauce: a wild mushroom fondue starring, well, whatever mushrooms he can find.
“Depends on what is seasonal,” he says, “though porcini is the king in my mind.”
He pan-sears the shrooms until golden brown before cooking them down with butter and cabernet sauvignon until tender and juicy.
“The tannins in the cabernet sauvignon match the caramelization of the steak and the richness of the bone marrow perfectly,” he explains.
With the sides prepared, it’s time to turn your attention to the beef, which he coats in crushed pepper and sears in cast iron for a dark, thick crust. The steak is finished with butter, rested for just five minutes, and plated with a touch of fleur de sel over the top. All that’s left is to pour yourself a glass of cabernet and dig in.
Peppercorn Crusted New York Steak
- 4 (12-ounce) prime New York steaks (dry-aged wagyu is the best!)
- 2 pounds wild mushrooms
- 6 ounces cabernet sauvignon
- 4 (8-inch-long) marrow bones, halved lengthwise by your butcher
- ½ pound dry-farmed marble potatoes
- ½ pound padron peppers
- Unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper, or to taste
Remove the steak from the fridge. Season with kosher salt and crushed black pepper, and allow to rest about 30 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the mushroom fondue. Clean all the mushrooms using a brush and remove any form of dirt. Finish by lightly rinsing in warm water. Cut the mushrooms into medium-size chunks, discarding the gills. In a large pan, sear the mushrooms until golden brown, add 2 ounces of butter and the red wine, and cook until they become creamy. Readjust the seasoning and reserve hot.
Cut the potatoes in half, and toss with the Padróns in olive oil and sea salt. Roast in an oven at 400 degrees until the potatoes are half cooked, about 6 minutes. Add the seasoned bone marrow and finish roasting. The bone marrow is finished when it’s golden brown and the marrow is hot throughout.
In a large cast iron or thick bottom pan, sear the steak over high heat. Leave in the pan long enough for the steak to take on a dark color and thick crust — add 3 ounces of butter and cook to the desired temperature. Remove and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Place the wild mushroom fondue on the side of the plate, and place the potato and padron pepper hash to the side. Put the steak on the fondue and then the bone marrow on the side. Finish with fleur de sel or sea salt.
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