Grilled Beef with Rosé Balsamic Glaze

Category: Entrees Comment

Serves 6

This is my version of a traditional Italian dish called Bistecca Fiorentina. I have left out the traditional ingredients of aged parmesan and fried capers and have substituted Rosé Balsamic Glaze for aged balsamic. The glaze has a crisp fresh taste that compliments the beef well without the additional saltiness of the capers and cheese.

Balsamic Glaze is one of my favorite condiments. I keep a jar of it at home at all times and use it for everything from sandwiches and steaks to leg of lamb. It is simple to make. The only precaution is that it does not burn. The trick is a long, slow reduction, first of the wine then of the wine and vinegar combined.

Balsamic Glaze:

  • 1 cup Rosé
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions

In a small sauce pan (heavy bottomed) add the wine and reduce it over medium heat to ¼ cup. Add the balsamic and reduce over medium heat until it starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and continue to reduce until it has a good gloss and a consistency of warm honey. You should have in the end no more than ¼ cup of final glaze. This is very flavorful and goes a long way. Allow to cool and place in a wide mouth jar. This can store this in the refrigerator for several weeks. Allow it to reach room temperature before using. Drizzle with a spoon over your favorite foods.

  • 2 ½ lb New York steak (or other cut of beef), cut into 3 steaks
  • 2 T  fresh herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme)
  • 1/3 c excellent extra virgin olive oil
  • To taste coarse sea salt
  • To taste black pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 bunch spinach, baby preferred

Directions

Trim all fat off the outside of the meat. Sprinkle all sides generously with coarse salt, pepper and herbs. Drizzle with 2T olive oil, gently turning the steaks so they are coated with the olive oil.

Pre-heat your grill to medium heat and grill the steaks for 3 minutes, then turn the steaks 90 degrees to make “hash” marks and cook for 3-5 minutes longer. Flip the steaks and cook for an additional 5 minutes or more until they are medium rare.

For a perfect medium rare, I cook the steaks on one side until I see the moisture start to bead up on the top of the steak. Once I turn them over, I then look for this on the 2nd side. When this happens, the steaks are done.

While the steaks rest for a few minutes, toss the spinach with 2T olive oil, and add a little salt and pepper. Place a mound of this on each plate.

Slice each steak on the bias so that there are 10 slices from each steak. Place 5 of these slices of warm beef on top of the spinach on each plate. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and a generous amount of Rosé Balsamic Glaze.

Serve immediately with warm potato salad and corn.

Grilled Lamb Skewers

Category: Entrees Comment

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 (1 – 1.5 inches)
  • 2 each cloves garlic, crushed
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • 4 each medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2Tablespoons canola (or peanut) oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2c  lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 each bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Serves 6

Directions

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. Saute until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the brown sugar, jam, lemon zest and 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

  • 2 each   garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup  yogurt, the best, creamiest plain you can find
  • 12 each mint leaves

Directions

Chop the garlic as fine as you possibly 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, line up 12 good fresh mint leaves one on top of the other and very finely sliver them. Add to the yogurt-garlic sauce and fold in gently. Serve with grilled lamb skewers.

Tip: If you place the garlic and yogurt in the food processor, it will start to break down the wonderful consistency. By hand folding (not vigorously mixing), you will retain the texture of the yogurt. 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 (The Georgian Feast) a wonderful book full of great recipes.

  • 1.5 pounds plums, dark red (not too ripe)
  • 1/4 cup  water
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 each  garlic cloves, large, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup  cilantro

Directions

Cut plums in half and remove the pits. Place in small non-reactive sauce pan over medium-low heat with the water and cover. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to soften the plums slightly. Meanwhile, toast the coriander and fennel seed. Grind with a mortar and pestle 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 sauce pan 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. You can make this sauce a day ahead to this point. When ready to serve, finely chop the cilantro and fold it into the plum sauce.

Roasted Heirloom Turkey with Wild Mushrooms and Zinfandel Gravy

Category: Entrees 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. I have included a recipe for the brine as well as a Zinfandel Gravy and Roasted Wild Mushrooms.

Brine

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

Zinfandel Gravy

Makes 4 – 6 cups

I prefer to make the base for my turkey gravy in advance. I start by making a roasted turkey stock using chicken bones I have saved in my freezer plus turkey necks I have purchased from the butcher. One important part is to make sure you roast the bones necks well to give some color to the sauce. I make the base of the sauce in advance (up to 2 days) without thickening it. I save this for the traditional method of adding flour to the roasting pan, then adding the stock to thicken it. The other important part of this recipe, is to make sure you reduce the zinfandel down to 1/4 or less of it’s original volume. This concentrates the flavor and the color.

  • 1  Tablespoon Black Pepper, whole
  • 1 Tablespoons Thyme, fresh
  • 1/2 bottle Zinfandel
  • To taste Salt & Pepper
  • 3 inches Bay Leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken backs and necks
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds turkey neck
  • 1 each Spanish onion, medium, chopped
  • 3 each carrots, medium, peeled and chopped
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Rosemary, fresh
  • Giblets from your turkey
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • To taste salt and pepper

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Combine the chicken, turkey, oil, onion, carrots and celery. Place in a large roasting pan and roast in the oven for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning occasionally so the bones and the vegetables brown well and evenly. Once well browned, remove the roasting pan form the oven and place on the stove top over medium heat. Add the zinfandel and simmer until it is reduced to no more than 1/2 cup in the bottom of the roasting pan. Stir with a wooden spoon while you are reducing it. Add half the water and brig to a simmer. Pour everything from the roasting pan into a sauce pan, add the rosemary, thyme, peppercorns and the rest of the water and simmer for 3 hours allowing the stock to reduce until you have a flavorful broth (you should always have enough liquid to cover the bones and vegetables. Strain the stock, allow to cool and either refrigerate or freeze until needed. You should have no more than 2 quarts of stock.

While you are cooking your turkey, you can finish the gravy. Clean and roast the giblets that came with the turkey until it is cooked and brown. Remove from the roasting pan, slice and add to the turkey-zinfandel stock. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Once the turkey is done, remove the turkey and pour off most of the fat from the roasting pan. Leave about 1 – 2 tablespoons of the turkey fat in the pan. Add the flour, stir to mix and place on the stove top over a medium flame and cook the flour until it is becomes slightly browned. Add a small amount of stock at a time, stirring until it is smooth, then adding more until you have added enough to create a fairly thick, smooth sauce. Using a rubber spatula, place this in a sauce pan, and simmer, adding more and more stock until you have achieved the correct consistency for your Zinfandel Gravy. Strain one last time, and simmer for at least 20-30 minutes to remove the starchy taste of the flour. Once the turkey has rested and is carved, your gravy will be ready and wonderful!

Exotic Mushroom Roast with Madeira & Thyme

Appetizer 3 each

  • 2 teaspoons Shallots finely chopped
  • 2 lbs Wild Mushrooms of your choice
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, Virgin
  • 2 teaspoons Thyme fresh
  • 1/2 cup Madeira
  • 2 teaspoons Soy Sauce

Directions

Use mushrooms that will stay fairly firm when cooking. Toss mushrooms in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place carefully on a roasting pan or baking sheet. Roast in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes until mushrooms are just tender.

While mushrooms are roasting, make the sauce: Put Madeira, soy, shallots and thyme in a pan reduce to 1/4, season with salt and pepper. Toss the roasted mushrooms with the reduction.

Medallions of Beef with Cabernet Sauce and Cashel Blue Cheese

Category: Entrees Comment

Yield (4 portions)

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup cabernet
  • Soak raisins in cabernet for at least 2 hours
  • 1/2 ounce (weight) shallots, minced
  • 2 T pine nuts (toasted)
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup jus lie
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T butter, cold
  • 2 T Italian parsley, fresh, chopped

Directions

Place raisins, wine and shallots in sauce pan and reduce to 1/3. Add pine nuts, mustard, jus lie and simmer slowly until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer.

At the last minute, add the parsley and butter and swirl into the sauce. Simmer and serve with seared steak, colcannon and the sauce. Top with flaked sea salt if serving with a big cabernet.

Roast Duck Breast with Dried Sour Cherry & Balsamic Sauce

Category: Entrees Comment

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup  pinot noir
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 5 T dried sour cherries
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup jus lie
  • 2 each sage sprigs

Place Pinot and balsamic in small sauce pot and reduce to almost a glaze. Add the cherries, chicken broth and jus lie. Simmer and reduce slowly to approximately 1 1/2 cups and sauce consistency.

Blend and strain. Add the sage leaves and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the sage leaves. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Finish with very thinly sliced green onions.

Juniper-Crusted Grass-Fed Beef Short-ribs, Cabernet-Birch Syrup Demi-glace , Toasted Pine Nuts & Huckleberries

Category: Entrees Comment

Serves 4

  • 3.25 pounds  Grass-fed beef short ribs (4 pieces cut 1.5” thick)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola oil
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • 1/2 each onion, diced
  • 1 each medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 each celery stalk, peeled and diced
  • 18 ea juniper berries, crushed
  • 3/4 cup cabernet
  • 3/4 cup veal stock
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2T birch syrup
  • 8 each  thyme sprigs
  • 4 ea bay leaves
  • 24 ea juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup huckleberries

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place a 10” cast-iron skillet (or sauté pan) over a medium fire and place canola oil in the pan. Season the beef with salt and pepper. When they oil is hot (you can see the oil start to get more “liquidy” when you swirl the pan), but before it starts to smoke, add the short ribs and sear them so they are brown on all sides. This should take about 8 minutes.

Lower the heat a bit and remove the beef from the pan. Add the olive oil and the butter, then add the onions, garlic, carrots & celery. Add a pinch of salt, stir and then cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the leeks and the mushrooms have started to soften.

Add the wine and turn the heat to medium-high. Reduce the wine by half, then add the chicken broth, balsamic and thyme. Bring to a 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 tea, and 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 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.

Serve the ribs over celery root mashed potatoes and pour the sauce with all the vegetables over the ribs and potatoes. Top with a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt and enjoy with a good glass of good Cabernet.

Lamb Shank Osso Bucco

Category: Entrees Comment

Serves 6

  • 6-12 pieces (approximately 4.5 pounds) lamb shanks, cut 1.5 inches thick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, fine dice
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, fine dice
  • 14 oz. canned, imported tomato, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup Chardonnay
  • 1 cup lamb stock (beef broth may be used as a substitute)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf (1-1 1/2”)

Ask your butcher for lamb shank cut in the style for Osso Bucco.

  1. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper.
  2. Dredge the lamb shanks in flour and shake off excess.
  3. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, or other heavy bottomed pot large enough to hold all the lamb.
  4. Brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes (if your pot is not large enough to hold all the lamb at once, brown it in batches).
  5. Remove the lamb from the pan.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Cook the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf and rosemary (covered) at medium heat for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the wine, stock and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and gently scrape the drippings from the bottom of the pan to incorporate into the sauce. If your pan is large enough to hold all the lamb shanks, place them back into the pan in one layer, cover and simmer on the stove top for about 1 hour or until meat is very tender. If your pan is too small, place the lamb in one layer in a baking dish whose sides are taller than that of the shanks.
  7. Top with the boiling broth and vegetables, and place in a 325 degree oven for approximately one hour.
  8. Remove meat to serving platter and keep warm.  Skim fat from vegetables and broth.
  9. Boil, uncovered to reduce liquid to about 3 cups.
  10. Pour the sauce over the lamb and sprinkle with gremolata.

Gremolata:

  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

Mix garlic, parsley and lemon zest together.  Sprinkle over lamb shanks.

The key to a beautiful Osso Bucco is the cut of the vegetables and the way the lamb is handled. If you take the time to make sure that all the onions, celery and carrots are uniformly cut into a nice, small dice, you will find that it was well worth your while! Handle the lamb carefully, to keep it on the bone. Osso Bucco should be very tender. It should come off the bone with the touch of a fork.

Slow-Cooked Lamb with a Zinfandel Mole

Category: Entrees Comment

Yield: 6 portions

I love the taste and texture of a good mole. This adaptation pairs well with Zinfandel. You can make your sauce as mild or as spicy as you’d like, by adding more chilies to the recipe. This version is fairly mild, but remember, as the mole sits, the flavors will expand. It is best to make the mole a day ahead then combine it with some of the lamb “jus” the next day.

Mole

  • 1 each Dried Chili Negra
  • 1 each Dried Pasilla Chili
  • 1 each Dried Chili Mullato

Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers and chop the remaining peppers roughly. Place in a small sauté pan and toast over medium heat until the peppers just begin to toast and color. Remove from the heat and place the peppers in a small bowl.

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Wipe out the sauté pan used for the peppers and toast the sesame seeds until light brown. Add to the peppers.

  • 3/4 cup Zinfandel
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Cherries
  • 2 Tablespoons Golden Raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon Juniper Berries, crushed

Place the wine, cherries, raisins and juniper berries in a small sauce pot and reduce over medium heat until there is less than a ¼ cup of wine left.

  • 1/3 each ripe plantain
  • 10 each  animal crackers
  • 3/4 disk Chocolate “Abuelita”
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Pinch salt

Add the chili-sesame mixture, plantain, animal crackers, Chocolate Abuelita, water and salt into the sauce pot with the wine and fruit. Simmer over medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes, and allow it to thicken. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. The mole is ready. Place in a glass jar and allow to “bloom” overnight.

This mole recipe makes more than you will need for the lamb, so use it freely on other dishes as well. It holds for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with Zinfandel

The shoulder has plenty of fat (which is rendered out as it cooks) to keep it moist and tender through long slow cooking. The result is flavorful and tender, with a Lamb broth that is enhanced later on by the addition of the mole.

  • 3-4 pounds Lamb shoulder, boneless
  • 1 cup Zinfandel
  • 4 each garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, fresh
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • To taste salt and pepper

Directions

Ask your butcher to remove the bones from the lamb shoulder for you and to tie it up as a roast. If they use a “net” for tying the roast, can remove the roast from the net and marinate “open” for best flavor.

Combine all the ingredients and marinate the lamb “open” overnight (if you were able to remove the net) by placing it in a large zip lock bag or by placing it in a baking dish and turning it a few times.

The next day, place it back in the net, or leave it “as is” if you’ve left it tied. If you have a rotisserie on your grill, skewer the shoulder on the spit and cook it over slow heat for 3 or 4 hours with a pan to catch the drippings under it, until the meat is tender enough to be easily pulled apart. It should be golden brown and nicely crisp on the outside.

If you have a grill with a cover, you can start a small fire of coals (or gas fire) on the outer ends of the BBQ and place the meat in the middle with no flame directly below it and cook for the same amount of time as above with the same basic instructions.

The final option is to slow cook it in your oven at 250 degrees. Place the lamb with the marinade in a baking dish, covered for the first 2 hours. Remove the cover and turn the temperature to 300 degrees and cook it until very tender. There should a small amount of  lamb “jus” left in the pan. If it looks like it is going to completely evaporate, add a 1/4 cup of water and continue cooking until it is ready (adding water as needed).

The meat should be moist and tender any way you’ve done it if you’ve kept the temperature low enough. Remove the pork form the heat, allow to cool just a bit and “pull” the meat apart. Remove the fat from the drippings pan and save the juice that has accumulated. Cover the meat and keep warm for serving.

Meanwhile, warm some of the mole and add the pan juices. This will give you a wonderfully flavored sauce to serve with the lamb. Serve the Lamb and Mole with Basmati Rice, Cilantro and freshly chopped tomato and a good glass of Zinfandel!

Leg of Lamb with Roasted Lemon, Garlic, Green Olives & Pine Nuts

Category: Entrees Comment

Serves 8 – 10 guests

Marinade

  • 1 each yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 each carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cup Chardonnay
  • 1 cup Yogurt, plain
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Rosemary, fresh, chopped
  • 1 each Leg of lamb, bone-in (approximate weight, 6-7#)
  • 12 each peeled garlic cloves, whole

Combine all ingredients (except garlic). Using a small paring knife, make 12 incisions into the lamb 2” deep. Insert a whole garlic clove into each. Rub marinade to coat the leg of lamb. Place in a pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Turn and re-coat the lamb several times. Remove lamb from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

  • 4 each lemons, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, granulated
  • 3 each heads of garlic, whole, cut in half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place lemon halves cut-side up in a small baking dish. Sprinkle each half with sugar. Place garlic cloves on a piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle water in the foil and fold the edges up to form a closed packet. Place on the baking dish with the lemons and place the dish in the oven. After 1 hour, remove the lemons.

Place lamb in a roasting pan (on a rack) and place in the same 400 degree oven. After 20 minutes, baste with some of the marinade and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Baste once every 20 minutes and cook until the internal temperature is 140 degrees. This should take about 1 hour. Remove the roast from the pan and let rest 15 minutes covered with foil. If the garlic cloves are soft, remove from oven.

Pour off the excess marinade from the roasting pan.

  • 1 cup Pinot Noir
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped

Place roasting pan over medium flame and add the wine. As it simmers, scrape all the pan drippings off the bottom so that it flavors the sauce. When the wine is reduced to half, pour the rest of the wine and the drippings into a small sauce pan and add the broth. Simmer and reduce to ½ the original volume. Strain the “lamb jus” and add chopped parsley.

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup green olives, Picholine, Lucques or other excellent quality

Carve the lamb, serve with the jus, toasted pine nuts, olives, lemons and whole heads of garlic.

Potato Au Gratin

Category: Entrees Comment

Serves 8

  • 4 lbs. russet potato, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 lb. St. Jorge cheese (made by Joe Mattos), grated
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Directions

  1. Butter a 12×8x2.5 inch oval casserole dish or similar 2 qt. casserole.  Slice potatoes as thin as possible (use the thin slicing blade on your food processor).  Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of a casserole evenly.  Cover with half the St. Jorge cheese.  Season with a pinch of salt and white pepper.  Cover with remaining potatoes and cheese.  Season again with salt and pepper.  Add cream slowly so that it is has time to settle between the layers. Add enough cream so that it comes almost to the top, but does not quite cover all the potatoes.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until a small knife passed through the center passes without resistance. Allow to rest for approximately 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.
  2. For an alternate presentation, allow the potatoes to cool, place in the refrigerator overnight. Once chilled, you can cut the potatoes into a square, circle or other shape and bake for 10-15 minutes on a buttered baking pan (375 degrees). You can then serve one piece to each guest.