On Thanksgiving Day, I grill-roasted a heritage breed, free range, organic 9 lb turkey from D'Artagnan using apple and hickory wood chips for smoke (one of the best things I ever did was to install a gas line on my back porch so I can run a natural gas grill and patio heater without ever having to worry about running out of propane on a long cook like this one, and hard wood charcoal purists can bite me).
Since it was just Helen and I, we had two drumsticks, one thigh, and one breast left over. A mid-morning snack today revealed that the leftovers had intensified in smokiness. I also had some leftover boiled new potatoes, green beans, and carrots. (The leftover cornbread dressing didn't make it past that midmorning snack). As I pondered tonight's dinner, I immediately thought: hash. So here's how I (mostly) cleaned out my refrigerator.
You definitely want to have your mise en place ready to go before you start cooking, as it goes pretty damned quick.
I heated my trusty All-Clad Master Chef 2 Nonstick 12-Inch Fry Pan over medium-high heat and added a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. When the oil-butter mix stopped foaming, I added the onions and chili. I hit them with a small pinch of salt. I sauteed them until they had softened and were just beginning to color at the edges. I then added the garlic and cooked it another 30 seconds. Next I added the turkey and stirred it through. Next I added the potatoes, carrots, and a big pinch of the dried parsley. A big pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper (using my Turkish pepper mill) followed. I tossed the hash around in the pan for a while, smoothed it out to an even level, and then pressed it down to let it brown. I spread the green beans and green onions on top of the mix.
While the hash browned, I heated a pat of butter in my Calphalon Nonstick 8-Inch Frying Pan. When the butter stopped foaming, I fried two eggs over easy. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of Tabasco. As the eggs fried, I stirred the hash to mix in the beans and green onions. I then dished up the hash and topped each plate with one egg. Because I like heat much more than Helen does, I refrained from hitting her serving with the several more dashes of Tabasco to which I subjected mine.
What wine to serve with this hash? Granted, you could make a case for beer, cola, or iced tea being better matches. But I like wine. Specifically, red wine. I wanted something young, fruity, not super tannic, with some smoke being a plus. The 2010 Foxen Tinaquaic Vineyard Syrah worked surprisingly well.
The bouquet suggests black cherry, raspberry, and cola. The palate picks up those elements, but adds smoky bacon, tar, and plums. Grade: B+
Inspired by this recipe but feeling sort of lazy, I made a quasi-homemade version tonight. I brought 1 cup of an inexpensive Pinot Grigio to a boil and poured it over 1 package of Mycological Dried Lobster Mushrooms. I let them steep for 20 minutes, drained and rinsed them, and chopped them fine. Next I briefly sauteed the finely diced white parts of 4 green onions and three finely minced garlic cloves in a tablespoon of butter in my trusty Oster 12-Inch Electric Skillet. After about 40 seconds, I added the mushrooms and a teaspoon each of dried chives and dried parsley. I sauteed them for a couple of minutes and then added 2 and ½ cups of low-sodium organic vegetable stock. I had previously drained a 14.5 ounce can of organic diced tomatoes and added them to the pot. I brought everything to a boil and added 1 package of Alessi Pomodori Risotto mix. Put on the cover and let it cook for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it had not gone dry. At 15 minutes it wasn't quite ready, so I added a ¼ cup of water and let it cook 4 more minutes until the rice was al dente. I added the green parts of the onions, finely chopped, a few pinches of good grated parmesan cheese and served. Yum. And a lot less fuss than traditional risotto.
I poured a 2000 Behrens & Hitchcock Ode to Picasso, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Gawd knows what else. When I last blogged about this wine in April 2010, it was "still a huge wine."Well, it's still huge. It's thrown a ton of sediment (I had to filter it through unbleached coffee filters as there was so much sediment floating in the wine that regular decanting was impossible), but even so it remains an incredibly deep purple all the way to the edges. This bottle offered remarkably youthful blackberry, plum, and blackcurrant fruit on the nose and palate. There is a suggestion of sweetness to the fruit, which is not the result of residual sugar but rather the intensity of its youthful vigor. As was the case in 2010, this is still "a big, rich, and hedonistic blast on the palate." Given how maligned the 2000 vintage has been, this might just be the wine of the year. The $64 question is how much longer to let the last bottle in my cellar age.
A blend of 72% Zinfandel, 12% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, 2% Syrah, 1% Grenache, and 1% Alicante Bouchet from seven vineyards in Sonoma County. Deep and rich blackberry, plum, and cherry flavors and aromas. Young, but quite drinkable now. Probably not a wine for the cellar, but over the next three or four years it should be perfect for steaks, barbecue, roast chicken, and the like. Grade: B+
I would love to talk to Paul Draper about the decision to include such minuscule amounts of Syrah, Grenache, and Alicante Bouchet. Was it just that they had some left over or does he really think those minor additions made a significant difference? Towards that end, it would be fascinating to taste a blend that had omitted them to compare it to this bottle.
Just in time to drown my election sorrows, Zagat reports that:
Amazon.com has just launched an online wine marketplace.The new Amazon Wine service, currently in beta, features thousands of labels of wine, mostly from California, Washington State and other western regions, searchable by price, varietal, winery, tasting notes, rating and a few other relevant criteria. Customers can order up to six bottles for a flat shipping fee of $9.99. For the time being, the new wine service is only available to customers in California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and D.C.'
This big, tasty, and complex red wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, and 10% Merlot. Deep ruby color. Strong legs in the glass. Cherries, cassis, spice, mocha java flavor and aroma associations. Enjoyable now, but has the structure to support at least a decade of aging. Grade: A-/A
I served it with Filet Mignon with Truffled Mushroom Ragoût. Unusually, I almost exactly tracked the recipe. The only major change was replacing the cream with crème fraîche. Roasted fingerling potatoes and sauteed spinach (with garlic) rounded out the meal. Highly recommended.
For dinner tonight I made a version of Ina Garten's Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. as is my wont, of course, I made some tweaks. To start with, I cut the recipe in half, which gave Helen and I good servings and leftovers for tomorrow. I used an Australian lobster tail as the source of the meat. Inspired by Giada de Laurentis' recipe for Penne with Lobster and Bacon, I made the cheese sauce by frying 4 rashers of thick bacon slices. When the bacon was done, I drained the slices on paper towels. Meanwhile, in the same All-Clad Stainless 3-Quart saucier I combined three tablespoons of the bacon fat with ¼ cup all-purpose flour to make a roux, which I cooked to a very light brown stage. For cheese, I used 6 ounces of imported Italian fontina and 4 ounces of imported Gruyere. As the sauce began to come together, I chopped the bacon fine and added it to the sauce, followed by the cooked lobster meat and macaroni. Lastly, I used Panko bread crumbs mixed with 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings and 2 tablespoons very finely grated Parmesan as the topping. Otherwise, I stuck to Ina's directions. A side salad completed the yummy meal (if I do say so myself).
What to serve with this meal? An old saying holds that a wine's first duty is to be red, which is a proposition with which I am in complete agreement. I probably drink 20 red wines for every white. But this was not a meal for a red. Tannins and lobster make a bad match. Plus, you want high acidity to cut the richness of the mac & cheese. Scrubbing bubbles to refresh the palate might help too.
Aha! A brut rosé methode champenoise sparkling wine from Schramsberg fit the bill ideally. Crisp acidity. Scrubbing bubbles aplenty. Plus, it's at least pink, if not actually red.
A lovely pinkish-salmon color, with many very fine bubbles. Light cherry and strawberry notes, plus something floral (rose petals?) on the nose. The palate is much the same, while adding some yeasty bread flavor associations. It was a perfect match for the meal. Complementary. Refreshing. Great value (at $35). In context, I'd give it a grade of A. Standing alone, out of context, probably B+/A-
Ridge reports that:
The vineyard was originally planted by Pierre Klein, an Alsatian who came to California in 1875. In 1888, he purchased 160 acres on Monte Bello Ridge; a property now known as the Jimsomare Ranch. Initially, he planted Bordeaux varieties on their own roots. But when phylloxera attacked his vines after the turn of the century, he did not replant. Retiring in 1910, he sold the property in 1913. In 1936, it was purchased by the Schwabacher family of San Francisco, who renamed the property “Jimsomare” from their names: Jim, Sophie, Marie. Although Klein’s Bordeaux varietals had died out, a small nineteenth-century zinfandel vineyard survived. Ridge bought those grapes, and made its first Jimsomare Zinfandel in 1968. Ridge then convinced the family to replant the Bordeaux varietals, plus a small amount of chardonnay. In exchange, Ridge provided rootstock, and a promise to purchase the grapes. The first cabernet bottling was in 1978. By the late 1990s, Ridge acquired the long-term least to the property, and took over all aspects of day-to-day farming. Today, Ridge farms this original Klein property as part of its Monte Bello Estate.
Although the wine made from the Jimsomare Cabernet grapes normally goes into either the Monte Bello or the Santa Cruz Mts. bottlings, Ridge occasionally makes a single vineyard wine exclusively from the Jimsomare Ranch Cabernet grapes. 1997 was such a year.
At age 15, this was still a vibrant and youthful wine. Lots of dark cherry and berry fruit, as well as plum and prune associations. Strong oak influences. Despite the dominant youthful fruit flavor associations, the smooth tannins suggested that this wine was definitely mature, but even so I'd guess it probably would have lasted another 5 years at the very least. Improved with air. Grade: B++
I served this with Flatiron Steak with Herbed Red Bliss Potatoes, Red Onion Marmalade and Red Wine Demi-Glace, for which it made a great match.
This 100% Petite Sirah is sourced from the York Creek Vineyard on Spring Mountain. Although it's almost old enough to vote, it remains a deep and dark ruby in color. Despite having been decanted off moderate sediment 45 minutes before service, it was still a bit closed when we started dinner. It gradually opened up, however, offering up blackberry fruit, pepper, spice, and cocoa. There's still a lot of firm tannins, so it probably would have continued aging and improving for many more years. But, sadly, this was my only bottle. Grade: B++
I served it with one of my favorite recipes, the lamb and apricot tagine from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking:
For dinner tonight, I started with an Emeril recipe, Roasted Pumpkins Stuffed with Roast Duck and Wild Mushroom Risotto, and then modified it. Instead of roasting a whole duck, I shredded the meat from 2 duck leg confit I had ordered from Dartagnan, leaving fairly big pieces. Instead of pie pumpkins, I used baked mini pumpkins as serving dishes. Instead of making risotto from scratch, I used Alessi Funghi Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms. I soaked 1 package of Mycological Dried Oregon Porcini Mushrooms in hot water until softened, strained the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquor, and chopped the mushrooms very fine. Ran the soaking liquor through an unbleached coffee filter. Used 1 cup red wine and 1-¼ cup of the mushroom soaking liquid to cook the risotto. I added the duck meat and chopped mushrooms when the risotto had about 5 minutes left to cook. I also tossed in the green parts of 3 green onions, some baby basil leaves, and some baby arugula leaves; all being chopped fine before adding them. Despite (because of?) my shortcuts, it turned out great.
The Pian Delle Vigne was an exceptional match for this meal. At ~15 years of age, it was smooth and fully mature. Rich berry and cherry fruit mingled with tobacco, leather, and fall leaves. I have just one bottle left in my cellar. Given how evolved this bottle was, I'm planning to drink that last bottle by the end of 2013. Grade: A-
For various reasons, Helen and I delayed celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary from last week to this weekend. To celebrate, I made Roasted Duck With Cherries, Spinach, Duck Confit and Chocolate from the October 15th issue of the Wine Spectator. As is my wont, of course, I tweaked the recipe a fair bit. I omitted the confit. I added some garlic and worcestershire sauce to the sauteed spinach, which I cooked in some of the the duck fat left over from pan searing the duck breasts instead of butter. I made some roasted new potatoes as a side dish. Mainly, however, I altered the sauce quite a lot. In fact, I basically tossed their recipe and made up my own. So here's the one I used:
I combined the Port, demi-glace, and stock in my trusty All-Clad stainless 2-quart saucier pan, brought the mixture to the boil, reduced the heat to a low simmer and added all the other ingredients except for the reserved cherries and the chocolate. I let the sauce reduce until it coated the back of a wooden spoon, periodically mashing the cherries with the same spoon. I then strained the sauce through my finest meshed chinois strainer into a small glass measuring cup, pressing on the solids with the back of that same wooden spoon to extract all the goodness. I set it in the refrigerator until a few minutes before service, at which point I zapped it for a minute in the microwave, added the reserved cherries and chocolate, and zapped it for another minute. Stirred and served. The reserved cherries soaked up the chocolate and were yummy. Helen says it's the best sauce I ever made and who am I to disagree?
The sauce also proved to be great over vanilla ice cream, by the way!
Over the years, I've built up a fair number of 1986 vintage wines in my cellar so that we'll have anniversary wines for the foreseeable future. Mostly cru classes from Bordeaux, of course, but also a few Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons. So tonight I poured the 1986 Dominus Estate.
It was in fine fettle. The cork was slightly depressed (which is always a better sign than slightly extruding). The fill was mid-neck. Upon removal the cork was stained about 2/3 of the way up the sides. Very promising.
I had decanted it off the moderate sediment about 45 minutes before serving it. It was still a deep ruby in color. Good bouquet, suggesting black currant, leather, cedar, and tobacco. On the palate, it was surprisingly youthful. Still has a lot of tannin to resolve, although it was definitely drinkable. Still, it must have been a tannic monster in its youth. Currants, leather, earth, tea, and stewed plums were some fo the flavor associations that popped to mind.
Admittedly, it was not a perfect match for the meal, which probably would have shown better with something younger, less tannic, and fruitier. All in all, a great meal and a spectacular wine, but not an inspired match.