Delicious Learning: Steaksmanship Series at Michael Jordan’s Restaurant

There's no better way to begin to understand and learn about the sometimes subtle differences between different kinds of steaks and wines than to do a side-by-side comparison of both.

To help you achieve a better understanding of how one steak can be better than another, and how great wine can work with great steak, Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse on the Magnificent Mile recently launched the Steaksmanship Series, which features the most exclusive cuts of meat put side-by-side by Executive Chef Craig Couper and paired with wine from Sommelier Mark Canuk.

We had questions for both Couper and Canuk.

Chef Couper and some of his magnificent red meat 

What do you see as the advantages, to the diner, of having different steaks in tasting flights? 

COUPER: The Steaksmanship Series is an opportunity for our restaurant to showcase a variety of premium steaks side-by-side. Diners can contrast the different attributes of each cut chosen for the series based on variables such as breed, marbling, type of feed, age and terroir.


When we visited Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, we ordered Flight 23, a tasting of Angus NY Strip,  Grass-fed Ribeye and Filet. Why did you choose each of these steaks for the flight?

COUPER: The Linz Heritage Angus NY Strip showcases the tenderness and marbling of American grain-fed USDA Prime beef. The Strauss grass-fed ribeye brings the once-thought-to-be-impossible combination of deep grass-fed beef flavor with heavy marbling and tenderness. The Snake River Farm Filet offers the combination of velvety mouthfeel of Wagyu beef with deep beef flavor. 


Do these pieces of meat have to be prepared in different ways? 

COUPER: All the cuts of beef are cooked in our signature style: seasoned with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper; cooked under our infrared Blodgett broiler; rested, and then basted with our glaze made from dry aged beef fat and brown butter.


Flight 23


How did you choose the wine to pair with these steaks?

CANUK:  When choosing all three wines, we wanted to make sure they were all quite different in terms of varietal, style, etc., yet interchangeable with each cut of meat.  In this way, the guest can choose what he or she enjoys best during the dining experience.  Of course. we have our own recommendations about what wines are ideal for each cut.




For the Prime NY Strip, what wine did you pair and why?

CANUK: We paired a 2015 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The classic steak pairing is with Cabernet Sauvignon.  Here, however, we took it a step further, really focusing on the anatomy of the wine.  We looked at the body, alcohol content, acidity and certainly the tannins when considering the Ehlers Estate Cab for the NY Strip.  We found that the elevated levels of the structure in the wine really lent it to the beautiful marbling of the steak.  In turn, the steak also complemented the wine and truly showcased the fruit characteristics of dark red and black cherry, currant and secondary aromas of baking spices, toffee and tobacco.  A slam dunk of a pairing.


What wine did you recommend with the  Grass-fed ribeye, and what was your rationale for that pairing?

CANUK: For the ribeye, we paired the 2016 Ridge 'East Bench' Zinfandel. This Zinfandel stands up to our delicate grass-fed ribeye due to its high acidity and medium plus tannins that help cut through the delicious natural fat content of the steak.  Unlike some other extremely juicy zinfandels out there in the market, this is a more robust wine that balances itself perfectly with just enough fruit, complimenting yet not overpowering the Maillard flavors of the sear.”


Finally, how about the Snake River Farms Wagyu filet? What wine did you pair with that?

CANUK: With the filet, we paired the 2013 Van Duzer “Saffron Fields Vineyard” Pinot Noir, a wine that won't overpower the delicate nature of the meat yet still has enough body to stand up to it.  For that reason, we decided to go in the direction of the thinner skinned pinot noir grape, which comes from a single vineyard that expresses what I feel is “classic” Oregon wine style with the darker fruit characteristics. The wine's typical Oregon "earthiness" is balanced with black cherry, tart cranberry, Dr.  Pepper and Cherry Cola ('s awesome).





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