Poster of Spirit of the West event

Spirit of the West AZ Style

Cupid is busy gearing up for the day dedicated to love (and Arizona Statehood Day) and luckily has helpers – chefs, bakers, pastry chefs, chocolatiers, sommeliers, mixologists and yes, even us home cooks – in the kitchen creating dishes made with an extra handful of love.

We’re keeping the love theme going for a special evening on Friday, February 25 with Spirit of the West AZ Style – Beef, Cheese, Chocolate and Wine – from Arizonans who love what they do, and we get to love the results.

Elgin’s Flying Leap Vineyard & Distillery estate is the perfect place to celebrate southern Arizona’s unique western spirit, with the high rolling grasslands surrounded by the magnificent Huachuca Mountains, Santa Rita Mountains and Whetstone Mountains as the backdrop.

So cowboy and cowgirl up – wear your jeans, boots, cowboy hat and silver and turquoise for an unforgettable evening featuring incredibly delicious local food and wine with your hosts Mark Beres, Chef Kyle Nottingham and me.

Mark Beres handling grapesPhoto of Kyle Nottingham

Upon arrival, you’ll enjoy your choice of Flying Leap wine in a keepsake glass while sampling charcuterie boards curated by Chef Kyle with ingredients from Flora’s Market Run, the only place in Tucson certified to cure their own salami, beef bresaola and pork coppa, Chef Kyle’s roasted seasonal vegetables, pickled goodies and jam; local Dos Manos Apiaries honey from beekeeper Noel Patterson; a variety of fresh chevre made by Shawn Campbell from the registered Nubian goat’s milk at her Stand Alone Ranch in Pearce; and baguette bread from August Rhodes Bakery.

Then enjoy watching and interacting with Chef Kyle as he cooks his favorite way – over open fire – in the winery’s fire pit: Prime Argentinian rib from Sonoita’s Vera Earl Ranch nestled in a single origin corn tortilla topped with mesquite charred pineapple-tomatillo salsa and smoked cabbage slaw. No worries if you’re a vegetarian, he’s got you covered, too. Snowflake’s Epic Fine Chocolates’ exquisite butter almond toffee is the perfect sweet finish.

A surprise event cocktail, as well as Flying Leap’s full variety of wines, will be available for separate purchase.

There’s also a special gift from the Santa Cruz County Cowbelles, you’ll receive an email of three recipes – Beef Chili, Beef Enchilada Soup and Tangy Lime Grilled Beef Top Round. In November 1947, 32 ranch women became charter members of the Santa Cruz County Cowbelles. They support the beef cattle industry through consumer awareness, education and the promotion of nutritious beef and are affiliated with the Arizona State Cowbells, Inc. and the American National Cattlewomen, Inc. In October, they’ll celebrate 75 years of working and playing together by throwing a party at The Patagonia Museum, which houses their ranching heritage collection.

Wishing you joy (and love) in the kitchen,

Photo of steak marsala in a cast iron frying pan

Steak Marsala
Yield: 4 servings

4 beef tenderloin steaks, about 4 oz. each, cut ¾-inch thick
½ cup dried porcini mushrooms
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups (about 4 oz.) shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups (about 4 oz.) cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
½ cup Marsala wine
⅔ cup beef broth
Chopped chives

1. Place porcini mushrooms in a small bowl; cover with boiling water to rehydrate. Cover and let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse mushrooms then thinly slice; set aside.

2. Combine 3 teaspoons flour, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge steaks in flour mixture, shaking off any excess.

3. Heat a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Cook steaks 4-5 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 135°F with meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak. Remove from heat and keep warm, tenting with aluminum foil.

4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2-3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add remaining ½ teaspoon salt, porcini, shiitake, cremini mushrooms and thyme; sauté 4-5 minutes or until mushrooms release moisture and darken. Evenly sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon flour; cook 1 minute stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2-3 minutes or until thickened.

5. Return beef to pan and cook 2-3 minutes or until heated being careful not to overcook beef (145°F). Sprinkle with chives and serve.

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