Archive for March, 2010

Roast Loin of Pork with Pinot Noir Plum Sauce

Posted in Entrees, Miscellaneous on March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 6

This is a wonderfully simple recipe. You can serve it hot or at room temperature, great for if you’re expecting guests and prefer to do most of the preparation in advance. You can make the plum sauce several days ahead and cook the pork the day before or earlier the same day.

Cooking this pork is a two-step process.  Since pork loin is relatively lean, I prefer to brine the loin overnight before cooking. This helps keep it moist and also gives it additional flavor. If available use heirloom pork, as it has better flavor and usually better “marbling” (the fat inside the meat that adds moisture and flavor). And bear in mind that the meat should be served medium-rare to medium—a little pink is fine health-wise and makes for a much tastier final product.

When a recipe calls for bay leaves, I list it by length. Since the size of bay leaves varies so much, this is a more accurate way of measuring. Purchase good freshly packed bay leaves. Morton and Bassett is a great spice company whose bay leaves are hand-packed and of exceptional quality.

For the pork loin

  • 2 pounds boneless, center cut pork loin, trimmed of all outside fat
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 inches bay leaf

For the plum sauce

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1 quart  chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 pounds fresh, whole plums (Santa Rosa or another dark red variety is best)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 11 spearmint leaves
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Preparing the pork loin:

Combine the sugar, salt, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaf in 1 quart water. Stir to dissolve. Place the pork loin in the brine and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the pork from the brine, pat dry (damp meat won’t brown) and season with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat with just enough cooking oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Place the pork loin in the pan and sear each side, turning frequently. When the meat is lightly golden brown (approximately 1- 2 minutes per side), immediately place the pan with the pork loin in the oven.  Roast for until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, approximately 20 minutes.

If serving the pork warm, place on a plate, cover with foil, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. (Roasting a cut of meat forces juices to the center of the meat.  By letting the meat rest, juices can evenly re-distribute themselves and the pork remains moist when sliced.)

If you plan to serve the pork at room temperature, let it rest uncovered for at least 30 minutes before slicing.  If you are serving it the next day, let it rest uncovered until it is just slightly warm to the touch, then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Preparing the Pinot Noir plum sauce:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the shallots and garlic in the butter until they just start to brown. Add the Pinot Noir and reduce the volume by one half.  Add the vegetable or chicken broth (I prefer vegetable broth for this recipe) [note: if this is so, I suggest you just delete references to the chicken broth, and delete this comment], plums and sugar. Simmer until the plums are just cooked through. Add the mint, Hoisin sauce and coriander, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and strain to remove the plum skins and pits as well as the shallots, garlic, and mint. Make sure you push all the plum meat and juices through the strainer, as this is the body of the sauce.  Allow the sauce to cool and then place it in a blender and process until velvety smooth.

Pinot Noir Turkey Gumbo

Posted in Entrees, Miscellaneous on March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 8 (11 cups)

This is a simple and very comforting dish I designed to pair with a Russian River Pinot Noir. It works best with a pinot with good acidity. Be careful with the spice, as it brings out the tannins and the alcohol. If needed, add additional salt to bring out the fruit and reduce the tannins in the wine. For the fun of it, try a small touch of ground coffee and add it to the gumbo. It enhances the pairing and adds some additional depth to the dish!

  • 4 1/2 pounds Turkey Thighs and Drumsticks (cut in half)
  • For dusting flour
  • 1/4 cup oil for frying (canola)
  • 3/4 cup oil for roux (canola oil)
  • 3/4 cup flour for roux (all-purpose)
  • 2 1/4 pounds onions, dice medium
  • 7 each stalks celery, peeled, and diced medium
  • 1 pound red bell peppers
  • 3/4 pounds green bell peppers
  • 12 each garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • ½ teaspoon basil, dried
  • 5 each bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 3/4 pound Sausage (Bruce Aidel’s Portobello with Smoked Turkey), chopped
  • 3/4 cup Pinot Noir
  • 2 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chipotle chili powder
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons gumbo filé


Place frying oil in sauté pan and heat to medium high. Season the turkey with salt and dust with flour. Brown on all sides and save. Discard the oil (or save it for biofuel!)

Place oil for the roux in a 6 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add flour for roux and stir with a wooden spoon until no lumps remain. Cook slowly for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mixture of flour and oil (roux) turns a milk chocolate color. Make sure you stir carefully so that it does not burn. This is very important.

Once the roux is the correct color, add the onions and some salt and cook covered for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so to make sure the bottom does not burn. Add the celery and follow the same procedure as the onions, the do the same by adding both color of peppers. This time, add the garlic, thyme, bay, basil and oregano.

Remove cover and add the pinot noir. Stir to keep it smooth. The mixture should thicken when it comes to a simmer. Add the chicken stock, ½ cup at a time, each time stirring to keep it smooth and each time bringing it back to a simmer before adding the next amount. You can increase the heat if needed.

Once all the stock has been added, add the sausage, chipotle powder and the gumbo file. Stir and then once simmering, place the turkey in the gumbo and bring again to a simmer. Place in a 350 degree oven and cook for at least 1 1/2 hours until the turkey is tender and coming off the bone.

Remove the turkey from the stew, remove the meat from the bone, chop, add the turkey back into the stew and discard the bones. Simmer for another 30 minutes, taste and adjust salt and spice.

Finally, taste with the wine and adjust (using the Taste Chart) to ensure the wine and the food work well together.

Pan Seared Pork Chop with Muenster Cheese

Posted in Entrees on March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 8

I like simple, versatile dishes. I made this one night while drinking a bottle Zinfandel. The balance of food and wine worked wonderfully. The next day, these same ingredients made a great lunch panini with another glass of the wine.

This recipe works best with a good quality commercial muenster cheese. The artisanal ones from Alsace are excellent but are too strong for this dish. Buy your cheese at a good cheese shop or at the cheese aisle of a good food market and not at the local deli counter.

  • 8 each    Loin Pork Chops (approximately 6-8 ounces each)
  • 4 teaspoons excellent quality whole grain mustard
  • ½ #  Muenster cheese, sliced medium thick
  • To taste Salt and pepper
  • 2T  olive oil, “light”
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder


Season each pork chop with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

In a heavy duty cast iron skillet or other cooking pan on medium to medium high heat, place the oil in the pan and cook on one side until light golden brown (3 -5 minutes depending thickness).

Turn and cook on other side for another 2-3 minutes until the pork chops are still rare in the middle. Remove fro the heat, and evenly spread the mustard on the top side of the pork chops. Top with sliced muenster and place under a high broiler heat until the cheese begins to bubble. Sprinkle with some scallion slices and serve immediately.

These are great with butternut squash mashed potatoes and green beans.

Olive Oil Poached Duck with Peach-Ginger Chutney

Posted in Appetizers, Entrees on March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – 1 Comment

Yield: 6 main course portions or 60 slices for hors d’oeuvres

The Ginger-peach chutney is another great accompaniment you can make and keep in your fridge for a week or so. It pairs very well with the Chardonnay and duck.

The breast meat of the duck is wonderfully tender and full of natural flavor when it is slowly cooked in olive oil. By using a meat thermometer for this low temperature poaching/frying you can make sure it comes out perfectly. The meat comes out clean with no “fried” taste or texture.

I use this same very simple and foolproof technique for olive oil poaching fish (salmon and halibut) as well.

The trick is to keep the temperature of the oil over 125 degrees but under 140 degrees. The result is tender and flavorful.

To give the duck a bit of texture and some extra flavor, I let it cool in the oil (you can do this the day before or earlier that day) and then saute it quickly for just a few minutes to give it a nicely caramelized look and texture on the outside.

  • 4 ea Duck Breast, brined overnight
  • ¼ cup Ginger-Peach Chutney
  • 60 each Wonton squares, 2” x 2”, fried crisp
  • 1½ cup olive oil

Brine the duck breast overnight (see recipe and instructions below).

Remove duck breasts from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat Olive oil in small sauté pan. The level of the olive oil should be enough so the duck breast can be completely covered by the oil when placed in the pan. If needed add a bit more oil.

With your thermometer in the oil, turn the heat to medium low and warm until the oil reaches 150 degrees. Gently place the duck breasts in the oil, making sure the are not touching and they are completely covered by the oil. Cover and occasionally test the oil temperature, adjusting the flame so that oil remains between 125 and 145 degrees.

Cook for 20 minutes or until the middle of the duck breast (in the thickest part) is over 125 degrees. Remove from flame and let the duck cool, covered in the oil until needed.

When ready, preheat a sauté pan with no oil (or pre-heat a grill) to medium high heat. Remove the duck from the oil and allow the excess to drip back into the pan. Saute or grill each breast for approximately 2 minutes per side until they have some color brown color and a bit of texture on the outside. Allow to sit for a few minutes, slice, place on a crisp won ton and top with the Turning Leaf Chardonnay-Ginger-Peach Chutney.


The salt to liquid ratio is very important, so make sure you measure carefully.

  • 1 quart Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Chardonnay
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup golden brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ bunch thyme, fresh

Combine all ingredients, bring to a simmer and strain. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Place duck breasts in brine and leave to sit overnight.

Ginger-Peach Chutney

Yield: 2 cups

  • ¼ cup  water
  • ¼  cup Chardonnay
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 ea dried chilis
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 each ripe peaches, skin on, pit removed
  • 1Tablespoon raisins
  • 2 each scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Place water, wine, vinegar, ginger, sugar, chilis and salt in a small sauce pan and reduce to 1/3. Add raisins and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the raisins are soft and the liquid is starting to thicken.

Meanwhile, leaving the skin on, cup the peaches into 12 wedges and then slice the wedges so that you have small triangles of peach.

Add the peaches and scallions to the ginger-wine mixture and turn heat to low. Gently stir until the peaches are just heated through. Remove form fire and allow to cool.

This should be chilled and then served with the warm or room temperature duck.

Lamb Chops with Zinfandel Sauce

Posted in Entrees, Miscellaneous on March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 6


  • 1 1/4 lb. finely diced celery, onion & carrot
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped thyme leaves
  • 18 fl. oz vstock
  • cornflour, to thicken
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 18 lamb cutlets
  • 2 fl. oz olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • salt & pepper


  1. Marinate lamb cutlets in the oil, garlic, rosemary & seasoning for 2 hrs.
  2. To make the sauce, place the diced vegetables, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, 13 oz. of Zinfandel & stock in a large pan & boil until reduced by half.
  3. Grill the chops for about three minutes on each side or until done to your liking. Thicken the sauce with a little cornflour, season and serve with the lamb and the vegetables of you choice.

Wine:  Serve this mouth-watering lamb dish with  1995 Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Grilled Lamb Skewers

Posted in Entrees, Miscellaneous on March 3rd, 2010 by Bruce Riezenman – Be the first to comment

Serves 6

These lamb skewers are quick to put together and very fast to cook on the grill. The lamb can be prepared and marinated the day before or much earlier in the day. The sauces can also be made the day before.

Whenever possible, purchase whole seed spices, then toast and grind them yourself. I own a small spice grinder that does a great job with the small quantities I need.

  • 3 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cubed in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • sea salt and pepper

Rub the lamb with the crushed garlic, then season and toss with salt and pepper. Let sit for 1 hour. While the lamb is marinating, place a small sauté pan over a medium fire, add the oil, onions and spices. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the brown sugar, jam, lemon zest and 1/2 cup water. Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and let cool. When the mixture is completely cool, pour over the lamb pieces and toss. Let marinate overnight. The next day, skewer with onion leaves and grill. Serve with Garlic Yogurt Sauce and Sour Plum Sauce (see recipes below).

Two quick and easy sauces to serve with grilled lamb (serve these two sauces in rustic earth-colored bowls):

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Makes 1 cup

If you place the garlic and yogurt in the food processor, it will start to break down the wonderful consistency. The hand folding in this recipe retains the texture of the yogurt.

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 12 mint leaves

Chop the garlic as fine as you can. This may take a few extra moments, but it is worth it. Place garlic in a small mixing bowl, and fold in the yogurt until the two are well mixed. Just before using, stack 12 good fresh mint leaves and very finely sliver them. Add to the yogurt-garlic sauce and fold in gently. Serve with grilled lamb skewers.

Once the sauce is made, let it rest in the refrigerator for at least a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Sour Plum Sauce

This is my variation of a recipe by Darra Goldstein, author of “The Georgian Feast” a wonderful book full of great recipes. [I would suggest being more specific about the contents of this book and why it is a wonderful.] You can make this sauce a day ahead of time, but make sure to add the cilantro only when you’re ready to serve it.

  • 1 1/2 pounds dark red plums, ripe but not mushy
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup  cilantro

Cut plums in half and remove the pits. Place in small, non-reactive saucepan over medium-low heat with 1/4 cup of water and cover. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to soften the plums slightly. Meanwhile, toast the coriander and fennel seed. With a mortar and pestle, grind the seeds with the garlic, salt and cayenne until you have a smooth paste. Run the plums (with skins) through a food processor, then return to the saucepan with the spice paste. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, then strain, pushing as much of the plum pulp through the strainer as possible. Place in a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When ready to serve, finely chop the cilantro and fold it into the plum sauce.