Chicken Cooked Under a Brick (al Mattone) with Pomegranate & Herbs

Posted in Entrees on May 13th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 4

I love this way of cooking chicken. The weight of the brick seems to compress the mat and gives it a firm texture. Since it cooks quicker this way, it comes out very moist and tender with an exceptionally crispy skin (my favorite part!)

  • 2 each Whole Chicken, 2 ½ pounds each)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon thyme, fresh, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon oregano, fresh, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sage, fresh chopped
  • to taste salt & black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Syrah-Pomegranate Glaze


  1. Cut chickens in half. Remove the backbone and the breast bones, Leaving only the leg bone and the 1st joint of the wing. To make it easier, you can leave the small breast bones, but it is easier to eat with these bones removed.
  2. Combine olive oil and herbs. Then coat chicken halves with the olive oil marinade. Let rest for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight. Just before you are ready to cook the chicken, sprinkle both sides with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place a cast-iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pan over medium heat with canola oil. Place chicken skin-side down in the pan.
  4. Wrap a brick in foil and place it on top of the chicken to act as a weight. You will need at least 2 or three bricks.
  5. Cook this way for approximately 8-12 minutes. When the skin is very crisp and golden brown, remove the bricks, turn over the chicken and cook it for just 3-5 minutes on the opposite side to make sure the chicken is fully cooked. If needed, just before serving, flip the chicken one more time to re-crisp the skin. Serve with a Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce or Pomegranate Glaze.

Coq au Vin

Posted in Entrees on May 13th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 8

  • 2 each Frying Chickens, 3 1/2 pounds, each cut into 8 pieces
  • 32 each Pearl Onions, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1.5oz(vol) Water
  • 1 Tablespoon   Canola Oil
  • 1 teaspoon   Butter
  • 1/4 pound   Bacon, sliced, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 each  Red Onion medium, diced
  • 3 each  Carrots, medium size, peeled, sliced thinly
  • 4 each  Celery stalks, peeled, sliced medium
  • 4 each  Bay Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon  Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon  Rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon   Oregano
  • 1 1/2 pound  Button Mushrooms, quartered
  • to taste  Salt & Pepper
  • 3 cups  Pinot Noir
  • 2 cups   Beef Broth
  • 2 cups   Chicken Broth
  • 1 Tablespoon   Cornstarch
  • 1/2 pound  Bacon, sliced, baked crisp in the oven, & broken into pieces


  1. Place pearl onions in a small sauce pot with sugar & water, boil slowly
  2. until tender. Allow liquid to evaporate and continue to cook on medium heat until the sugar turns golden and coats the onions. Remove from pan and save for later.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place a shallow heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add oil. Allow it to heat until you see ripples on the surface when you swirl the pan. Add butter, swirl the pan once and place each piece of chicken skin side down. Cook until golden brown (5 min). Flip the chicken, lower heat to medium and cook on the other side for 3 minutes. Remove from pan and save for later.
  4. Add bacon. Cook until crisp & brown (5 min). Add red onions, cover and cook until the onions are soft (5 min). Add celery, carrots, and herbs. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more. Add mushrooms and increase heat to high. Cook until the vegetable mixture is dry. Add Pinot to vegetables. Boil until it has been reduced to half. Add beef and chicken broths. Bring to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces and return to a simmer. Cover and place in 325
  5. degree oven for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove from oven, remove the lid and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and place into a glass dish. Turn oven off and place covered chicken in oven to remain warm. Remove as much fat as you can from the top of the cooking liquid. Reduce it to half. Add salt & pepper as needed.
  6. Mix cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of pinot noir and stir to make a smooth slurry. Add it slowly to the simmering sauce, add just enough to thicken so it coats a spoon. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over chicken, garnish with the rest of the bacon (warm and crisp) and pearl onions. Serve and enjoy!!!

Chicken Cacciatore

Posted in Entrees on May 13th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, xv
  • 2 each yellow onions, sliced
  • 3 each red bell peppers, sliced thin
  • 3 each green bell peppers, sliced thin
  • 12 each whole garlic cloves, sliced
  • 8 each portabello mushrooms, medium size, sliced
  • 2 cups red wine (Sangiovese)
  • 4 cups roasted chicken stock (OG @ 2.5 oz base/40oz water))
  • Italian parsley
  • Basil, fresh
  • Rosemary, fresh
  • Thyme, fresh
  • 1/3 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 2 quarts tomato fondue
  • 1 quart diced tomatoes in juice, canned
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • 4 each bay leaves
  • to taste sea salt


  1. Put garlic in olive oil.
  2. Add onions and cook until translucent.
  3. Add peppers and sweat until soft.
  4. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their moisture.
  5. Add wine and reduce until almost dry.
  6. Add tomatoes, stock, herbs, spices, capers and simmer for at least 1 hour. Reduce to desired thickness and flavor.
  7. Disjoint whole chicken. Reserve breast (remove all bones except 1st joint of the wing) and thigh (leave single bone in). remove skin from both.
  8. Season with S&P, dust with flour and sautée in a small amount of cooking oil until golden. Turn chicken, add sauce, cover and bake in oven until chicken is done. Place chicken on plate and top with sauce.

Beef Florentine

Posted in Entrees on April 29th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 6pp

  • 2.5 lb. Niman Ranch tri tip, trimmed to 1/4” fat on the outside
  • 1 oz. chopped rosemary
  • 1 oz. chopped garlic
  • 4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
  • Mix all ingredients and marinate the tri tip overnight.

Balsamic Glaze

  • 1 qt. Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 oz. shallots, chopped
  • 4 oz. honey
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 1 pt. Zinfandel wine
  • Combine all the ingredients and reduce down to 6 oz.
  • 2 lb.spinach, washed and stems removed
  • 4 oz. arugula, washed, stems remvoed
  • 1 oz. shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 oz. olive oil
  • 3 oz aged parmesan


Cook the beef on a grill, medium rare or to your preferred doneness. Hold for a few minutes to allow the juices to settle and become re-absorbed by the meat.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and cook shallots over medium heat in a covered sauté pan until translucent.  Add the spinach and arugula and toss over high heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to plate.

Slice the beef and place atop the spinach-arugula mixture. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with shaved aged parmesan. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Slow-Cooked Pork with Syrah Reduction & Corn Polenta

Posted in Entrees on April 29th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Yield: 40 bite sized portions

Here is a wonderful way to prepare pork. Slow-cooked with roasted peppers (my favorite is to use Jimmy Nardello’s Italian frying peppers, but even red bells will do a great job). The cumin blends beautifully with Syrah, but still works well with lots of other wines. The pork drippings, wine and pepper create a beautiful sauce.


  • 4-5 pound pork shoulder, boneless
  • 1 each red bell peppers, fire roasted on the grill, chopped
  • 1/2 each yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 each carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 cup Syrah or Pinot Noir
  • 6 each garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, fresh
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • To taste salt and pepper


Ask your butcher to remove the bones from the pork shoulder and to tie (or “net”) it as a roast.

Combine all the ingredients and marinate the pork “open” overnight (if you are able to remove the net) by placing it in a baking dish. Turn it a few times during the day.

The next day, place it back in the net, or leave it “as is” if you’ve left it tied.

Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees. Place the pork with the marinade in a baking dish. Cover the pork and roast in oven for 2 hours. Remove the cover and turn the temperature to 300 degrees and continue to cook until very tender (1 hour). The liquid should be almost evaporated by then. If needed, add a small amount of water so that it is not completely dry at the base. The pork should turn golden brown.

Remove the pork from the oven, allow to cool and “pull” the meat apart into chunks. Place the meat in a mixing bowl. Strain the pan drippings, pressing the veggies through the strainer as much as possible. Remove the excess fat from the drippings, pour over the meat and toss the two together. Cover and chill for use any time in the next few days.

The serve, warm & crisp the polenta and place some warm pulled pork on top. Drizzle with a touch of the pan juices.


This recipe makes a firm, yet very soft polenta.

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/4 each yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1  cup milk
  • 1 cup polenta, instant
  • ½ cup Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • To taste  kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1Tablespoon Extra virgin Olive oil


In medium heavy bottom pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and sweat until soft but not brown

Add milk and water and bring to boil.  Add a small amount of salt to give the water a very slight salty taste. Whisk in the polenta.  Lower heat and cook stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 10 – 20 minutes until the polenta is cooked. You can tell when it is cooked by tasting. It should still have a very bit of a firmness to the texture.  Remove from heat and add Parmesan, olive oil and the rest of the butter.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Pour into a buttered baking dish so that the mixture is ½ to ¾” high. Allow to cool and place in the refrigerator overnight to firm up. Cut any shape you’d like, remove from the baking dish and set them on a buttered or oiled baking sheet.

When ready to serve, place in a hot oven, under the broiler or on the grill to warm and crisp the outside.

Brine for Turkey

Posted in Entrees on April 29th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Heirloom turkeys are becoming more popular these days. Last year, I served my family a Bourbon Red. It has a richer meat than do the traditional varieties.

I like to brine my turkey for 24 hours before cooking.


This is a great all purpose brine. We use this to brine for whole turkeys, pork and sometimes salmon for fire roasting or smoking.

You can change the flavor by playing with the liquid. For instance, we will sometimes substitute some wine or apple cider for some water when brining pork.

The salt to liquid ratio is very important, so I would not recommend changing this.

  • 1 gal  water
  • 1 c  kosher salt
  • 2 c  golden brown sugar
  • ½ c  whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch thyme, fresh

Cabernet-Braised Beef Short Ribs Cooked

Posted in Entrees on April 29th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 4

This is a wonderful winter dish that can be served with any big red wine. I like to remove the bones, roll the short ribs and tie it with a piece of string before cooking. This gives it a nice presentation. It is just as good and quicker to cook with the bones in. Either way, I am sure you’ll enjoy this dish on a cool winter night.

Braised and stews are best served the following day. The flavors have a chance to blend and the meat has a chance to rest. I time allows, I roll and tie the short ribs, then braised them and let them sit overnight in the braising liquid. The next day, I make my sauce from the braising liquid and re-warm the beef.

  • 2.5 pounds  Beef short ribs, bones removed
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola oil
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, salted
  • 1/2 cup leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 6 each large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 each medium carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 each large portabella mushroom, gills removed & sliced
  • 1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 8 each  thyme sprigs
  • 12 each nicoise olives, pits removed, left in large pieces


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place oil in medium-sized cast iron skillet or sauté pan. Warm the pan over a medium flame Season the beef with salt and pepper. When they oil is hot add the short ribs and sear them so they are brown on all sides. This should take about 8 minutes.

Lower the heat and remove the beef. Add olive oil and the butter, then add the leeks, garlic, carrots and mushrooms. Add a pinch of salt, stir and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, until the leeks and mushrooms have softened.

Add the wine and turn the heat to medium-high. Reduce the wine by half, add the chicken broth, balsamic and thyme. Simmer and return the beef to the pan. Cover and place in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the pan and cover, and add the olives to the skillet. Cover again and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the beef is very tender. By this time, the “sauce” should be very flavorful and there should be about 1 1/2 cups of sauce in the bottom of the skillet. Taste the sauce and season if needed with little additional salt, but be careful not to add too much.

If you have the time, let it cool then refrigerate overnight. The next day, you can remove any fat that has come to the surface of the sauce. Remove the beef, warm the sauce, and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Sear one side of the beef if you like and then rewarm the beef in the sauce.

Marinated and Oven-Roasted Tri-tip of Beef with Cabernet Wine Caramelized Onions

Posted in Entrees on April 29th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 4

  • For the marinade-
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped, fresh
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2# trimmed beef top round
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix thoroughly all ingredients. Pour the marinade over the beef and refrigerate, covered, overnight. Heat a pan large enough to accommodate the beef over a high flame. Add the olive oil and heat until almost smoking. Sear the beef a minute or two on both sides. Transfer beef to a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes. Slice tri-tip across the grain as thinly as possible on a bias. Arrange the beef on a serving platter with the Cabernet Wine Caramelized Onions.

Cabernet Wine Caramelized Onions

  • 4 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch salt

In a heavy bottomed sauce pot place the onions, red wine, sugar and bay leafs. Cover tightly and simmer for 15 minutes. On a medium high flame. Uncover and continue cooking for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Onions may be served room temperature.

CK Lamb Sirloin with Cinnamon Roasted Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Currants, and Toasted Almonds

Posted in Entrees on April 29th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 6

I first made this sauce when I owned my restaurant Prospect Park in Santa Rosa. The cinnamon in the wine reminded me of the dish I had served 15 years ago. I’ve added the currants and toasted almonds to add some sweetness and richness to the sauce. With the addition of the mushrooms, you have salt, sweet, and acid working together to balance the food and wine.

  • 2 1/4 pounds  heirloom tomatoes (purple), peeled, and cut into wedges
  • 1/4 teaspoon  Cinnamon, Saigon
  • 1 teaspoon  Olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 teaspoon  Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons  yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup   Pinot Noir
  • 2 each   Bay leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon  Currants
  • 1 Tablespoon  Almonds, toasted, and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound  lamb sirloin, cleaned of all fat and sinew


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Salt the tomatoes and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid in the tomatoes and discard. Place the tomatoes in a sauté pan, sprinkle with cinnamon and toss. Place sauté pan with tomatoes in the oven and roast for approximately 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put olive oil and butter in a small sauté pan and place over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add onions and cook until the onions are soft and fully cooked. Add Pinot Noir to the onions, turn the heat to medium-high and cook until the wine is reduced to 1/4 of it’s original volume. Add bay leaves to the sauté pan, remove the tomatoes form the oven and add them as well. Crush in the pan with the side of a fork until the texture is that of roughly chopped tomatoes. Cover and simmer over very low heat for an additional 10 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure the sauce is not too thick. If it is, add a touch of water and simmer again. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the currants, re-cover and continue to simmer. Add sea salt until you like the taste. This sauce can be made a day ahead.

Season the lamb sirloins with salt and pepper, rub with a bit of olive oil and sear in a sauté pan over medium-high heat on all sides. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees, and cook for approximately 10-12 minutes until the lamb is medium-rare.

To serve, spoon sauce on the plate, top with sliced lamb, then sprinkle the lamb with coarse sea salt, then sliced almonds, and serve immediately.

Coffee Rubbed Beef with Farro and Wild Mushrooms

Posted in Entrees on April 29th, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

This recipe is based on the ancient grain called “farro” that has been used in Italy since Roman times. It is imported from Umbria and Abruzzo. In the US, it is called “spelt”. Farro has a wonderful earthy flavor, a great texture and is simple to cook. It’s a great alternative to pasta or rice.

I’ve created this dish to pair with the Paradise Ridge Rockpile Cabernet 2002. The coffee and sea salt help to balance the tannins of the wine with the mushrooms and cherries. This can be served as a room temperature luncheon or as a warm dinner. It is delicious, rustic and very nutritious. The farro in this recipes makes enough for 6, so you’re assured of extra for a quick lunch the next day!

Yield: 4 portions

  • 1 pound beef tri-tip or New York Steak, trimmed, no fat
  • 1 teaspoon ground coffee
  • To taste sea salt, medium coarse
  • 8 grinds black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 each whole garlic cloves, peeled, leave garlic cloves whole
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • ¼ each medium yellow onion, fine diced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 8 grinds black pepper
  • ½ cup carrot, peeled and diced (approximately 1 medium-sized carrot)
  • ¼ pound crimini mushrooms (approx 10), halved and sliced [or you can use any wild mushroom you’d like]
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 cup semi-pearled farro
  • 1½ quarts salted water for cooking the farro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup sun-dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 4 each sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
  • 2 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, medium-sharp, diced 3/8 inch
  • 1 quart arugula, cleaned


The beef can be served warm or room temperature for this dish, as can the farro. If you prefer the beef to be served warm, start the farro first, then cook the beef while the farro in cooking. You can easily reheat the farro in the oven before serving.

Ask your butcher to trim the beef and remove all the outside fat, and to cut it into pieces, with the grain, that are 1” thick. At home, place the beef on a cutting board between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with the smooth side of a mallet until it is ¾” thick. This will help tenderize the meat.

Remove the top layer of plastic, and season the top side of the meat evenly with 1/2 teaspoon of ground coffee, 4 grinds of a peppermill and enough sea salt (medium coarse from a grinder). Turn the meat and do the same to the other side.

Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Place the canola oil in the pan, then place the seasoned beef into the cold sauté pan. Place a grill press on top of the beef and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until the bottom of the beef is nicely seared. Remove the press, turn the beef, replace the press and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the beef is medium-rare, approximately 4-5 minutes more.

Remove the press and place the beef on a platter to rest.

The Farro

Place a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and the whole garlic cloves. Cook slowly for 5-7 minutes, turning the garlic a few times during the cooking so they are golden brown on all sides.

Add the onions, ½ teaspoon of salt and 8 grinds of black pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Add the carrots and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Then, add the mushrooms, thyme and oregano. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the mushrooms and carrots are cooked.

Meanwhile, place the salted water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil. Add the farro and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the farro is cooked. It is ready when it has a consistent dense texture (al dente: it still has a “bite” to it) throughout without tasting hard or raw in the center.

Drain the farro into a colander and then place in a mixing bowl. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and mix gently. Add the vegetable mixture, dried cherries and chopped parsley to the farro and mix. Add additional coarse sea salt and ground pepper to taste.

To Serve

Place a handful of arugula on each of 4 plates, top with a cup of the farro. Slice the beef into 20 nice slices and place 5 slices on each plate. Sprinkle with the diced white cheddar, and drizzle the beef, farro and arugula with the remaining olive oil. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs.

Serve with a small bowl of coarse sea salt for your guests to sprinkle as needed.

This is a great dish to serve family style.

Enjoy with a glass of Cabernet!