Also known as “Baja steak”, the petite tender is a boneless, cylindrical portion of a beef shoulder clod — the same area from which the top-blade or flat-iron steak is taken — and shaped like a mini-beef tenderloin. No wonder some butchers call it a Baja Steak… who wants to eat a clod, or a shoulder?

It cooks up like any steak, and each petite tender weighs about 10 ounces, so it would be safe to buy one tender per person served.

The cross-section has that same type of honeycombed structure as a beef brisket, and if cooked properly, is as tender as a New York steak.

Petite tenders can be grilled, or pan seared in a cast iron skillet and finished in a 400F oven.

If pan searing, sear tenders on all sides, with one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Continue for several more minutes in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 130F.

Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let them rest for about 10 minutes. Serve with new potatoes and green beans.

Fattier steaks like Porterhouse, T-Bone, Ribeye, etc., pair better with full-bodied reds having higher tannin levels, for example, Cabernet Sauvignon. This petite tender, however, doesn’t have the fat content to coat the tongue and soften the effect of the tannins in heavier bodied reds. Obviously, we need a red, but what varietal would work? Malbec typically has lower in tannin levels than many other red wines which make it a fine pairing with leaner cuts of beef.

Malbec could also pair well with filet mignon or whole beef tenderloin.

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Pair this petite tender with Lucas and Lewellen’s 2010 Santa Barbara County Malbec. A Gold Medal wine with “Best of Class” distinction at the 2013 Central Coast Wine Competition, this special vintage is made from select vines grown on a small portion of the esteemed Valley View Vineyard in Solvang.

An uncommon convergence of landscape, climate and farming expertise at their estate, the Valley View Vineyard has generated this phenomenal offering of single variety Malbec. The wine has dense flavors and aromas, a creamy texture, well integrated tannins, and flavors of dark red fruit, cassis, and blackberry. Enjoy!

John David Finley is a free-lance writer and author of the cookbook, Sacred Meals from our Family Table, which features Santa Barbara County wines.

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