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Aug 18, 2015
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WINE WITH…Steak and Spanish Rice

Spanish rice--a mid-twentieth century favorite like mac and cheese, fondue, and meatloaf--is due for a comeback. This colorful and comforting dish calls for ordinary and inexpensive ingredients, is simple to make, and may be served either as a vegetarian main-course or as an accompaniment to almost any meat or fish preparation. This time we paired it with a juicy steak. It was delicious--or as one might have said in the day, groovy, man.

Spanish Rice

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
¼ cup tomato paste
1 ¾ cups water (or substitute chicken broth)
1 cup rice
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, and when the onion starts to soften add the garlic and continue cooking another couple of minutes. Add the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes, then stir in the tomato paste. Whisk in the water, and when everything is well blended, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the peas and corn and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Check to see if the rice is done, and if not, simmer for another few minutes or until rice is tender.

* * *

Because we paired the Spanish rice with steak, this clearly was a red wine meal. Were you to serve the rice as a main course, you probably also would choose a red, though without the deep, meaty flavor of the beef, you might opt for a lighter one than those we are recommending here. But at our table, with a grilled bavette steak (a close, but slightly thicker relative to a skirt steak), substantial reds were the order of the day.

Questions or comments? Contact us at [email protected]


Approx. Price


Clos de los Siete, Mendoza (Argentina) 2010

(Imported by Thienot USA)


Managed by famed winemaker Michel Rolland, Clos de la Siete is a Malbec-dominated Bordeaux blend. It is more restrained and elegant than many of the wines for which Rolland consults, and exhibits finesse as well as power. That combination made it a beautiful partner for both the steak and the Spanish rice.

Edmeades, Mendocino County (California) Petite Sirah 2012


Big and bold, yes, but also supple and smooth on the palate, this Petite surprised us by not elbowing aside the flavors in the Spanish rice. Its blue and black berry flavors instead harmonized with them, and it had plenty of muscle to stand up to the steak.

J Lohr, St. Helena Napa Valley (California) Cabernet Sauvignon “Carol’s Vineyard” 2012


Lush and fleshy on the palate, with ripe fruit flavors and soft tannins, this wine meshed nicely with the rice. You might want it to exhibit a bit more structure or firmness to be a perfect steak partner, but all in all, it worked well with the meal as a whole.

Marqués de Cáceres, Rioja (Spain) Gran Reserva 2008(Imported by Vineyard Brands)


The lightest wine we are recommending in terms of body, this Gran Reserva more than held its own because of its rich mélange of flavors—fruit to be sure, but also dried spice and herbs, and a hint of char from oak aging. It was especially delicious with the Spanish rice.

Renwood, Fiddletown (California) Zinfandel 2012


Spicy and briary, with characteristic Zinfandel exuberance, this wine still manages to taste balanced and harmonious. It paired equally well with the Spanish rice and the medium-rare slices of steak.