For people crazy about wine!

Chopped Steak

I had an opportunity to make chopped steak when having some folks over for dinner one night, and I realized that I needed to come up with a good recipe.  After looking all over, I decided to combine some of the ideas I found and make a recipe of my own.  The result?  Not bad, not bad at all (according to my guests and my wife -- who would tell me in an instant if I've veered off of the pavement on a recipe).

Something Better than Ground Beef

All the chopped steak recipes I found called for ground beef.  Since the crowd I was serving were some of our best friends, I didn't want to leave the quality of the beef up to the butcher -- you don't always know what they're grinding up sometimes.  To make sure I knew exactly what beef was going into my chopped steak, I started with Angus eye of round.  If you want to get about 8 chopped steaks out of this recipe, get one that's just over 5 pounds.  Cut the meat into manageable slices.  This made cutting the fat off a bit easier.

To the right is a picture of the pieces with the fat cut off.  Notice there is still some marbling, so the meat will be moist; but it will also be very lean.

Grinding the Meat

I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer that has a fantastic grinder attachment.  For chopped steak, I wanted the meat to be a bit coarse.  So, I used the coarser of the two meat grills (the one pictured to the right).

You'll want to make sure to cut the steak into strips that will fit into the grinder.  Here, you see a slice that fits neatly into the grinder.

The Flavor Mix

Flavor Mix Ingredients
  1. One packet of Lipton Onion soup mix or 1 tablespoon Grill Mates® Montreal Steak Seasoning and half a red onion, minced
  2. 1 tablespoon Lawry's Garlic Salt
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 cup red wine
  5. 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Beat the eggs and mix them into the beef.  Now, combine the wine and rest of the dry ingredients together and add to the beef.  Use your hands to do this.  You want to keep the beef a bit coarse, but you also want to work in the mix.

Add about 1 cup of bread crumbs.  I usually chop up a couple of heels and extra bread that I have left over.  If you have any of those Fresh Market French Rounds, add 5-6 to the food processor when you're chopping up the rest of the bread -- they add a nice bit of flavor to the chopped steak.

Also, add about three tablespoons of dried parsley or four tablespoons of fresh parsley.

Cutting the Steaks

After mixing the ingredients together, turn out onto a cutting board and form into a loaf.  Cut coins out of the loaf, depending on how large you want your chopped steaks to be.  I usually make sure mine are about one or more inches tall.

Form each of the chopped steaks and make a divot in the top.  If you don't, like hamburgers, they will plump up.  You'll need that divot in the top to hold the Gorgonzola cheese that you'll add at the end of the baking process.

Arrange your chopped steaks on a cookie sheet, cover and place in the refrigerator.  I suggest you leave them overnight, but I've prepared them in the morning and made them in the evening.


When you are ready to cook the chopped steaks, take them out of the refrigerator, and get a skillet hot.  I seer the bottom first before I put them into the oven.  Get the oven set to 350 (not convection).

Arrange the chopped steaks into a deep roasting pan.  You'll want to use one of these, rather than the cookie sheet you had them on in the refrigerator, because the chopped steaks may spatter a bit.

Make sure the chopped steaks don't touch each other in the pan.  See the picture to the right.  You'll notice the divots in the tops of the chopped steaks.

Topping and Finishing

About 45 minutes into baking, when the tops are brown and there is no more pink juice coming from the chopped steaks, it's time to finish them.  Take the roasting pan out of the oven and put it on the stove top.  Put crumbled Gorgonzola cheese on top of each chopped steak.

Broil the chopped steaks until the cheese melts nicely into the divot.  See the one pictured on the right for a close-up.

Ossobucco - Braised Veal Shanks

Here's a wonderful recipe for veal, that meat derived from young cattle (much of it coming from male calves of dairy cattle).  It makes a brown stew, rich with veal flavor.


  • 4 to 6 veal shanks that have been sawed into thick crosswise pieces (think one shank per plate).
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 4 to 6 decent sized carrots, cut into ½" pieces
  • 2 parsnips, cut lengthwise and then chopped into 2" pieces
  • 1 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 cups drained chopped tomatoes (canned will do just fine)
  • 2 cups of veal stock (you can use chicken stock; sometimes I've even used canned vegetable stock)


First, I like to brown the shanks on each side in a frying pan with a bit of peanut oil in the bottom.  It gives them just a bit more flavor and makes a nice braising liquid.  You can skip this step, if you're in a hurry; but you'll lose out on some taste.

For the rest, you can use a crock-pot.  I line the bottom with the onions, carrots, parsnips, garlic.

Follow that with the shanks, placing them over the onions/carrots/parsnips bed.  Pour over it the stock and tomatoes.

Depending on your crock-pot, you'll want this to simmer for 4-5 hours.  If you have a crock-pot that runs on the hot side, simmer it for a shorter period until the veal is tender.

Remove the contents from the crock-pot, and drain all the liquid into a bowl.  To degrease the braising sauce, let it cool down a bit, pour it into a Ziploc bag (I set the bag in a wide measuring cup), and hold it up, so a corner of the bag is pointing down.  You'll notice right away that the grease separates from the braising liquid.  You can then cut the end of the corner off, or from the open side of the bag poke a hole in the corner with an ice pick or skewer, and drain the braising liquid into a measuring cup.  Discard the grease.  Heat the braising liquid to serve.


Place one shank on each plate and cover with the vegetables.  Pour the braising liquid over the vegetables and shank.

The Wine

Any good, light wine will go well with this meal.  I like a pinot noir from South Africa or New Zealand .





A Fast Saute of Beef for Two!

Amazing as wine is, I must say that when properly paired, it can be like the nectar of the gods -- making whatever you're having for dinner infinitely more enjoyable.

Recently, I was blessed with Julia Child's cookbooks -- her first book (in collaboration with two, French cooks), which is called, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and a more recent addition, The Way to Cook.  Although I swear by a cookbook I bought at the flea market for 25¢ (The Doubleday Cookbook, by Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna) and often consult The Joy of Cooking, it is without question that I have found the ultimate reference in Julia's books.

A classic example was last night's dinner.

Starting on page 195 of The Way to Cook, Julia talked me though the experience.  She didn't dictate a recipe; anyone can find a recipe these days on the Internet.  No, she talked to me.  Okay, not like the risen-from-the-dead talked, but her narrative made the experience an absolute joy.  Here's how she does it:

This is an almost complete main course with a certain jazzy style, something to keep in mind for a rather important and intimate occasion when you are in a hurry but want a good meal.  If you had time beforehand you could trim the meat and ready the vegetables.  But when you are an informal twosome, why not prepare the whole meal while having meaningful conversations and aperitifs together in the kitchen?

Read more: A Fast Saute of Beef for Two!

Quick Beef Wellington

The traditional Beef Wellington is a tenderloin roast sometimes coated with liver pate, truffles, and mushrooms, then wrapped in a pastry.  For Quick Beef Wellington, I substitute condensed mushroom soup for the steak coating, and I substitute any good steak for a full tenderloin.


  • 4 beef tenderloin, short strip, or other suitable steaks, 4 - 6 oz. each, fat trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can condensed mushroom soup
  • 1 pkg. frozen puff pastry sheets (Pepperidge Farm is best), thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rub both sides of steaks with olive oil. Salt and pepper. Place on cookie sheet.Bake at 450º degrees for 10 minutes. Chill 10 minutes.
  2. Unfold 4 pastry shells. If you’d like to decorate the pastries, cut about ½” from the edge to make into decorative shapes later. Roll the rest of the sheet to about 8” diameter (big enough to wrap each steak).
  3. Spread about a tablespoon of mushroom soup on the pastry shell and place the steak on it and then spread another tablespoon over the top of the steak. One can should cover all four steaks, so measure as you go.
  4. Bring pastry up over steak and wrap completely. Brush with water to seal. Place, seam-side down on baking sheet.
  5. Make glaze by beating together the egg and milk in a small bowl.
  6. Brush glaze over pastry-wrapped steaks.
  7. Cut 3 air vents in each.  Decorate with pastry cut-outs from step #2.
  8. Bake at 450º degrees for 15 — 25 minutes or until golden.
  9. Take out of oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.


Place each Beef Wellington on a plate, and serve with asparagus, green beans, or my personal favorite, early peas.

The Wine

Don't let one of your better cabernets go to waste.  Open it for this meal!