Let's start with the pilaf (serves 4):
- 1 lb ground lamb
- ½ red onion diced
- 6 ounces finely chopped cremini mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tablespoon grated ginger
- ½ tablespoon red curry paste
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 cup Della Quinoa Rice Blend
- 1-½ ounce dried currants
- 4 ounces dried apricots, diced
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
- ⅓ cup slivered almonds, toasted
I started by browning the lamb over medium heat (6 on a 10 point scale) in my All-Clad 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven. While the lamb was cooking, I seasoned it with a pinch of kosher salt, a couple of grinds of black pepper from my Turkish pepper mill, and ½ teaspoon of red curry powder. When it was done I moved the lamb to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
I mopped up the fat from the lamb, being sure not to disturb the fond, and added some olive oil to the dutch over (maybe half a tablespoon by eye). I then added the onion to the pan (with a small pinch of salt) and sautéed it over medium heat (4 on a 10 point scale) until it softened. I then added the mushrooms and sautéed them until they had given up their liquid and softened. I made an open spot in the center of the pan and added the tomato paste, garlic, ginger, and curry paste. I let them fry for about 30 seconds and then stirred them into the onion/mushroom mixture, and let them cook another 30 seconds or so.
Next I added the water and Worcestershire sauce to the pan, turned the heat up to high, and deglazed the pan, scraping up the fond. When the liquid came to a boil, I added the rice-quinoa blend, reduced the heat to 3, covered the pan, and let it simmer for a total of 15 minutes.
After the rice and quinoa had been cooking for about 8 minutes I added the currants, apricots, and tomatoes.
At the 15 minute mark, I removed the lid, stirred in the lamb, and reduced the heat to low (1). I let the lamb heat through and then gave it a taste. It needed a bit more of a punch, so I added 4 dashes of Tabasco, a ½ teaspoon more Worcestershire sauce, and ½ teaspoon Thai fish sauce to really punch up the unami element.
I stirred in the almonds and served it with an arugula-based side salad.
To accompany the pilaf, I poured a 2004 Château Gruaud-Larose. Long time readers, of course, know that this is one of our house favorites. This is the first bottle we've tried from the 2004 vintage and it was delicious.
Deep ruby to purple, it has thrown some sediment but not a lot. I decanted it about 30 minutes before dinner. Huge bouquet of currants, cherries, prunes, and cedar. The last glass (with about 90 minutes breathing time) had a whiff of the humidor. Lovely. On the palate, the attack is youthful with lots of red and black fruit. The finish is fairly long and introduces more earthy, leathery, woody elements. Impeccably balanced. Enough tannins remain to support another decade of aging. I plan to drink my remaining 3 bottles at 3 year intervals over that period. (Unless I buy more, which I am tempted to do.)