Lovers of Malbec are already familiar with how good it is as an accompaniment to meals and special moments but it can also be a wonderful ally in the kitchen – as Argentinian cooks know well. To celebrate Malbec World Day, we asked three top chefs at Argentine wineries about their favourite Malbec recipes.
Here are three original dishes using Malbec as an ingredient.:
“What I most like about Malbec is that it’s a balanced wine. Malbecs are usually well-rounded with good volume, sweet tannins and a long, harmonious finish: no one note overpowers any of the others. I like young Malbecs with a fresh fruitiness, like the ones from Gualtallary, at the foot of the Andes, where they take on more mineral flavours. I use them for bittersweet reductions in summer with pitted fruit or tomatoes because the freshness goes very well with white and red meats.
Skirt steak with plums, sweet potato and Malbec
Brown two skirt steaks (or 800g flank steak) with 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan. Add fresh pitted plums or prunes, half a cup of stock, half a cup of Malbec, salt, black pepper, four medium sweet potatoes and four medium quartered onions and two cloves of garlic. Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 45 minutes (make sure that it doesn’t dry out). Turn off the flame and leave covered for another half an hour. Cut the steak and sweet potatoes and serve with the sauce from the pan.
“For cooking, I like high altitude Malbecs from the Uco Valley. They tend to be young, fresh, very fruity wines that express the identity of the area with notes such as lavender, rosemary and thyme. I often make Malbec salt, reductions to go with mature cheeses and a quince and Malbec sauce to accompany meats such as fillet steak.”
Malbec and quince sauce for meat
Peel 2 quinces. Cut the flesh into pieces and put them in a pan with 750 ml of Malbec, 250g of sugar, peel from one lemon and one stick of cinnamon. Boil until very tender. Discard the cinnamon and lemon peel. Meanwhile, sauté half a chopped onion in butter until golden. Season to taste. Place the still warm pieces of quince with the onion in a blender. Process with a little of the wine from the pan until creamy. Store in the refrigerator. To serve, warm up the sauce (you can use a microwave and thin with a little more wine if too thick). Makes an ideal accompaniment to roasted beef, potatoes and squash.
“The interesting thing about Malbec is its distinctive flavours. It doesn’t usually have as strong tannins as most Cabernet Sauvignons but neither is it as light as a Pinot Noir. For cooking, I like its incomparable fruitiness, which ranges from quince to black and red fruits with an empowering acidity. For meat, I choose natural, unwooded Malbecs that bring out the acidity of the fruit. I like the higher, cooler areas such as the Uco Valley but for jams and preserves I prefer wines from Luján and Maipú.”
Rack of short ribs with Malbec
Trim 4 to 6 cuts of short ribs, leaving some of the fat. Add coarse salt and black pepper. First sear either side of the meat with olive oil in a heavy iron pan. Once browned, add half a tin of tomato extract and cook for a few minutes. Add one head of garlic cut in half and toss it in the pan. Add the Malbec and cook for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of homemade, unsalted stock (the liquid should never rise higher than three quarters of the ribs). Turn off the flame and cook in the oven for about 2 hours on a low heat. Accompany with strips of smoky bacon browned in the pan, mushrooms and blanched string beans. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Main photography: Skirt steak with plums, sweet potato and Malbec – Chef Juan Pablo Míguez – Bodega Andeluna