'Wine & Food Recipes'

New Foodie Movie: The Hundred-Foot Journey

Movie Poster - 100 Foot Journey

From the director of ‘Chocolat’, produced by Spielberg and Oprah, and acted by Helen Mirren (with a French accent, no less!), this new movie promises to provide rather predictable plot lines and to be a bit over-produced (it’s from Dreamworks).  But food becomes the lead character and ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey” deserves viewing by any food enthusiast.

The contemporary plot involves an upstart Indian Chef whose family moves in across the street from Mirren’s Michelin-starred restaurant.  The ensuing clash is predictable but fun to watch, as the young upstart brings a freshness to the French foodways and traditions, and as he adapts his own style to create a fusion of the two.

Did I mention Helen Mirren plays lead?  So it’s automatically on our watch list, French accent or not.  

And I’ll enjoy each of the beautifully-shot food scenes, given the high expectations set by foodie director  Lasse Hallström in his classic ‘Chocolat’. As if his credentials weren’t enough, know that NY Chef Floyd Cardoz (Tabla, North End Grill) consulted on the food (see recipe, below) and that Cardoz was a leader in the New Indian Cuisine scene – the marriage of traditional Indian spices with Western technique.

Try the recipe at home, and if you like it, try the movie too!  

Wine Tips – Indian food has complex spices and a touch of heat, all of which work well with a surprisingly sweet Mosel Riesling – I’d say Spatlese or Auslese. Even those not fond of sweet wines will find that it comes alive when paired with Indian dishes, as does the food itself.  Enjoy! (Click the image, below, to see a print-ready version)

100 Foot Journey - Beef Recipe

What Wine Goes With Chicken Fingers?

Image - Gourmet Chicken Fingers from

Yeah, they look delicious.  That’s because they are.  And even more so when paired with the right wine.  

If you’re a foodie and have yet to discover the brilliant blog – Once Upon a Chef – by former chef Jennifer Segal, I highly recommend it.  This talented chef gave up her toque to raise her kids.  But she still keeps a hand in, so to speak, by testing home recipes and blogging about the best ones.  Each comes with her high-quality photographs and step-by-step instructions.  And despite her cooking chops, she features recipes that any good home chef can manage.

This one, in particular, is very kid-friendly.  And adult-friendly too.  ‘Specially when paired with a lightly oaked Chardonnay, which will tease out the nuttiness of the crust, or a Riesling or other aromatic white, which will flatter the sweet/tart tension of the honey-mustard sauce.  

Do you eat at one of those red-only sorts of tables?  No worries.  I daresay a lighter-bodied new-world Pinot would do nicely, as would a Chianti.  But whatever you do, don’t die before trying this with a dry Rosé, which are usually among the most food-friendly wines you’ll ever find.

Cheers!

Chardonnay-Friendly Recipes

Label image - Seebass Family Reserve ChardonnayChardonnay, the top-selling wine in America by FAR, has fallen out of favor with a certain group of avid wine drinkers.  That certain group would be those in the industry – Sommeliers, retailers, distributors, and many producers. Of course, none of them will admit it, as Chardonnay pays many of their salaries.  But when it comes to selecting a wine they want to drink… different story.

I suspect this is the result of over-exposure (ask any parent about the effects of “Dora the Explorer Immersion Therapy”).  

Or maybe it’s the “Rombauer Effect”, wherein a white wine is so big and bold you taste nothing else for days.  These are Chardonnays designed to shout, to shove their way past all other distractions, grab your tastebuds and shake them until you’ve taken notice.  In other words, not wines one gravitates toward if your business is the thoughtful sniffing and sipping of fine wines to discern each fine and elegant nuance. 

Wine label - Hanzell Sebella ChardonnayBut Chardonnay fans, Fall is your season to rejoice.  Even those on the fence about these wines will have to admit they pair quite well with the sage-scented foods of fall – squash, baked pasta, pumpkin, turkey, carrot soup, yams/sweet potatoes, and etc.  So here are a collection of links to some great fall recipes that will pair well with your Chardonnay.  Oh, and if you’re short on Chard, here’s a helpful link to the Chardonnay “aisle” in my online wine shop.

Recipe Link - Easy Butternut Squash SoupEasy Butternut Squash Soup – “Once Upon a Chef”. these recipes from blogger and ex-chef Jennifer Segal are home-tested and feature her excellent photographs.  That so many talents should find their way into a single amateur blogger is the beauty of the internet.  If you’re a foodie, and even if you’re not, you really should subscribe to her email feed – you’ll be pleasantly teased by her photos in your inbox.  They just might inspire you to enjoy a meal at home, whether on your  own, with family, or a whole group.  And encouraging such communal dining is a good thing.  Put down your devices.  Pick up your spoons.  And dig in.

Image - butternut squash risotto and ChardonnayButternut Squash Risotto – “Big Oven”.  A ton of great fall recipes can be found here.  Try them all.  They’re easy.  On this one, I prefer to include some bite-sized chunks of cooked squash to give the dish a bit of a toothsome, al-dente feel.  And one can never go wrong if you give it a little Bam! of freshly crushed, dried thyme and/or sage (or better yet, the fresh version, roughly chopped before Bamming).  Best as a side dish, as a little goes a long way.

Image - cedar plank salmon with ChardonnayCedar Plank Salmon – “AllRecipes.com” – People often think Pinot Noir is the natural pairing for salmon.  But in my experience that pairing can be like a bad Match.Com date.  It all depends on the depth of the wine and the preparation method for the salmon.  To play it safe, Chardonnay is a safer bet.  

My Vancouverite brother was the first person to introduce me to this method of cooking salmon.  For hundreds of years, this most iconic fish of the Great Northwest was traditionally fire-roasted atop a well-soaked cedar plank.  Those native peoples knew what they were doing when it came to salmon, but when it comes to wine, you’d best leave it to me. The smoke and cedar/foresty aromas and flavors of this dish demand a wine of sufficient heft to match, so I recommend a new world Chardonnay with a good amount of oak, or a bit of time in the bottle, or both, such as the Diatom 2011 Hamon ($42), or the Pont de Chevalier, 2009 Knights Valley ($44).

Cheers!

Wine-Friendly Recipe: Pork “Stew” with Andouille Sausage, Lardon and Mushrooms

Alain Geoffroy 2010 Chablis - wine club selectionMost winter stews feature beef and pair with red wine.  This refreshing alternative features pork and pairs with a Chablis or unoaked Chardonnay (see all my available Chardonnay’s here).  Equally warming during cold winter months, but less fatty.  

Ingredients (6 Servings)
- 3 lbs Boneless pork shoulder
- 2 Andouille sausage, cut into thirds
- 6 Ozs Lardons or thick bacon, cut into 1/4 inch squares
- 12-16 Ozs Mushrooms (washed and trimmed and roughly chopped)
- 12 Baby onions
- 1/3 Cup flour
- 100 g of butter
- 1 Large carrot
- 5 Ozs Water
- 1 Bottle of Chablis or un-oaked white wine
- 1 Bouquet garni (2 springs ea. tied in cheese cloth: Parsley, Thyme, Bay leaves)
- 3-4 Tbsp of butter
- 12-18 Small Red or Yukon Gold potatoes as accompaniment.

Procedure:
Cut the pork into 1″ pieces (or save time and have your butcher do this after de-boning the shoulder).  Place an empty stew pot over medium heat for three minutes, add some olive oil, count to five,  then add the meat, carrot and the baby onions. When the meat is browned on all sides sprinkle in the flour, stir well, then add the butter.

Stir to integrate and then add the bottle of wine, the water, and then the bouquet garni.  Simmer for ~50 minutes, then add the lardons, salt and pepper and the mushrooms, increase the heat slightly and simmer another 10 minutes without the lid, allowing the sauce to reduce. Add the sausage pieces and simmer for another 5 minutes.  If still not thick enough, combine 2 Tbsp flour and 1Tbsp butter by hand, then stir into the pot, increasing heat to maintain a steady simmer (small bubbles on the side only).

Serve with steamed potatoes splashed with your best olive oil and a pinch of coarse sea salt.

To Serve – spoon the pork into the center of a shallow dish and surround it with the sausage, then carefully pour the thickened sauce over all. Place a bunch of parsley at one side and the potatoes at the other, then sprinkle with finely chopped parsley as a final garnish.

Recipe adapted from Madeleine Berthier, Auberge du Barrage, Le Coudray-Montceaux.

Porcini Dusted Steaks with Pinot Noir

Image: Wild Table cookbook.  Linked for purchase info.Here’s a great recipe that takes riby-eye steaks (traditionally a Cabernet dish) and transforms it into one that pairs beautifully with Pinot Noir (purchase here).  Mushrooms and Pinot Noir have a natural affinity, and in this recipe mushroom flavors are brought to the table in three ways – infused into the steak, cooked and served on top of the steak, and infused into a butter served alongside or also on top of the steak.  I’d recommend using the butter as a finishing touch on any vegetables, or even to spread on any bread served along with this meal.

The recipe is from The Wild Table by Connie Green & Sarah Scott (2010 Viking Studio)  See this recipe in its original form at the Sierra Madre Vineyard site.  Purchase the Sierra Madre Pinot Noir here.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 4  8-ounce or 2 16-ounce rib-eye steaks (or other cut of choice), 1 ½ – 2” thick
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried porcini powder (just grind dried porcinis in your spice grinder/coffee grinder)
  • 1 pound porcini mushrooms, cleaned
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup Porcini Butter, softened (recipe below)
  • Fleur de Sel
  • Minced chives or flat-leaf parsley

Season the steaks generously all over with the salt and pepper and ½ teaspoon of porcini powder per steak. Refrigerate, loosely covered, overnight. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator one hour before cooking. 
Prepare a grill to medium heat.

Place the olive oil in a small bowl with the minced garlic. Slice the porcini mushrooms into ¼” thick slices. Place on a baking sheet and brush with the garlic-olive oil mixture on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. 
Grill the rib-eyes for 7-8 minutes per side, for medium rare (130 – 135 degrees internal temperature).  When done, divide the Porcini Butter among the steaks, spooning it on top and letting it melt into them as they rest. Hold the steaks in a warm place while grilling the porcinis. 

Place the porcini mushrooms on the grill (if too small to grill, I prefer roasting in the oven over sauteeing, as it results in a more even, almost crisp, mushroom) and grill for  2-3 minutes per side or until tender and golden brown.

Slice the steaks or serve them whole on plates or a platter, topped and surrounded by the grilled porcinis. Sprinkle the fleur de sel and minced herbs over the top.

Porcini Butter (makes approximately 1 cup):

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed to remove any fine sand or grit
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 sticks at room temperature
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried porcini powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

 

Place the dried mushrooms and the cold water in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes.  Saving the liquid, drain the mushrooms, pressing the mushrooms to extract all the liquid.  Return the liquid to a sauce pan over medium high heat. Reduce to 1 tablespoon.  Set aside.

Finely mince the re-hydrated mushrooms.

Place the 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until just melted, then add the minced mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and cook another 3 minutes until the garlic is softened, then stir in the reserved mushroom liquid and heat to a simmer.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Pour the mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor and process until very finely chopped,  stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the 2 sticks of softened butter, cut into 8 pieces, the porcini powder and the salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Pulse together until the butter is creamy and the mushrooms are evenly incorporated. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt or lemon juice as needed. The butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week and a half. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

Tips and Techniques:
Seasoning the steaks a day ahead allows time for the flavors to penetrate beyond the surface of the meat, giving them a more delicious taste when grilled.
The porcini powder gives a rich, deep brown crust to the steaks as they grill.
Allow the steaks to rest at least 6-8 minutes before serving for optimal tenderness and juiciness.

Substitutions and Variations:
Any cut of steak suitable for grilling can be substituted for the rib-eyes. Season them the same way, the day before, and grill according to the specific cut.
Grilled Portobello or crimini mushrooms can be substituted for the porcinis. Drizzle a little truffle oil over them just before serving.

Recipe : Roasted Pork Belly on Kale Salad

Dave the Wine Merchant - Roasted Pork Belly on Kale Salad with aromatic white wines

14 people. 6lbs of pork belly. Gone in 60 minutes.

This recipe is a bit time consuming for those on tight schedules, but well worth the trouble for fans of the pig.  I first had this dish at the Anderson Valley Alsace festival, where it was prepared in a demo session by Beau MacMillan, the Executive Chef at Arizona’s Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa.  I’ve adjusted some of the ingredients and procedures to make the recipe a little more home-friendly, for those of us who don’t benefit from a team of prep cooks. 

You may need to special order your pork belly, and if so it’s worth checking around for pricing. We found a wide variation, and settled on a great neighborhood butcher (Marina Meats) who allowed us to specify how much we wanted (others required us to purchase the entire cut) and offered a price of ~$5/pound.

The preparation begins with the rub applied to the meat, which remains on for a brief 2 hours before the meat is slow roasted.  The recipe is broken into three sections – one for the meat, one for the dressing, and one for the salad (photo, left).

Wine Pairing

Pair this with a rich and aromatic white wine or a good dry to off-dry rosé.  Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, or Riesling would be among my top picks.  Rosé fans will like the way the wine plays off the sweet-tart nature of the ingredients, and how the fruit complements the pork.  

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients – Pork Belly

  • 1-2 lb. Pork Belly
  • 1/2 lb. Salt
  • 1 lb. Sugar
  • Zest from one orange, one lemon, and one lime
  • 2 Sprigs fresh rosemary, stripped from stems and chopped

Combine all ingredients and cure pork belly for 2 hours. About 20 minutes before it’s done curing, pre-heat your oven to 475F.  Rinse thoroughly and place in roasting pan fat-side up.  Roast at 475F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 300F and cook for another hour.  If the fatty top is not caramelized and bubbly, put it under the broiler for a minute or so – but watch it closely, and don’t take any phone calls from mom.

Ingredients – Soy Sesame Vinaigrette

 Yield:  approx. 1 cup                                                                                       

  • 1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Ginger, chopped fine
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp.   Green onion, chopped fine
  • 1 pinch     Red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup   Rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup   Mirin
  • 1/4 cup   Soy sauce – low-sodium highly recommended
  • 1/4 cup   Brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp.  Cornstarch (dissolved in 1/4 cup water)

 Heat a saucepan over medium heat for couple of minutes. Add the oil, wait about 30 seconds, then add the garlic, ginger, green onion and chili flake. Sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds) and then add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer a couple of minutes until thickened.  Strain and cool (alternative – I liked the idea of a wilted salad, and although kale isn’t prone to wilting, I opted to heat the dressing and apply it to the kale salad just before serving.)

Kale Salad Ingredients

  • 1-2 bunches of Kale (1/2 – 1 pound)
  • 1 C Fresh blueberries or golden raisins
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/2 C pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1/3 C Sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 C Shredded carrots
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped mint

Wash kale, remove and discard stems, then chop.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, dress with the soy-sesame vinaigrette (hot, if you so choose) toss lightly and season with salt to taste.  Serve family style on a large platter, or on individual salad plates.  Top with pork belly cut into 1-inch slices.

Recipe originally from Beau MacMillan, Executive Chef.     

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa
5700 E. McDonald Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ  85253
480.607.2302| Main

“#1 Resort in the United States” – Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards
“#1 Resor in Arizona” – Travel + Leisure 500 Best Hotels in the World for 2012

 

Perfect Pairing: Cider-Poached Salmon with Pinot

The bane of the amateur gardener is that everything gets ripe all at once. And eating tons of the same produce, meal after meal, day after day, week after week… one’s tastebuds quickly tire.   So freezing, drying, canning, gifting and other forms of creative storage become highly valued.

And if a bunch of apple trees happen to grow on your property, you eventually ask for a cider press when your handy-man Father in-law asks for Christmas ideas.  You can see what he came up with in the photo here – looks as if it should be launched!  It’s just a happy coincidence that his name is Johnny, one long associated with apples and their seeds.

The first cider from our late-ripening tree was so delicious, I’ve spent some enjoyable hours conjuring up or searching for recipes that feature cider.  Like this one, which I came across in Wine Spectator, for a Cider-Poached salmon.  It’s been adapted slightly from its original version (as seen in “Maine Classics: More Than 150 Recipes From Down East,” by Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier. Running Press) to make it a bit more Pinot friendly.  But it already had a good start, and the bonus of featuring Morgan’s 2009 12-Clones Pinot Noir ($32), a wine I’d recently featured in one of our wine club shipments.

INGREDIENTS
1 gallon apple cider
2 tsp each fresh rosemary and thyme (with extra for garnish)
¼ cup (plus 1/4 tsp) brown sugar or 3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp fennel seed
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
6 Salmon fillets, 4-6 oz. each
1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 – 2 Generous pinches Cinnamon and Cumin
4-6 Tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced

PROCEDURE
1. Heat cider in a fish poacher or (if you haven’t stocked up on Williams Sonoma’s entire storew-wide inventory yet!) a broad-based, saucepan, until liquid is reduced by half its height.

2. Add the rosemary, thyme, brown sugar (or syrup), fennel seed, salt and pepper. Bring to a
full boil and then reduce to just below a simmer – you want steam but no bubbles.

3. Gently place the salmon in the liquid and cook for 6 minutes.  Test for doneness (I suggest an instant-read thermometer, but you can pull one out and take a peek at its center.

4. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a sauté pan until melted but not smoking.  Add apples and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the aromatic spices (Cinnamon and Cumin) and the additional 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar (not too sweet or it will fight with the wine!)

5. Using a slotted spatula, remove the salmon directly from the poaching liquid to individual serving plates, and garnish with the poached apples and a sprinkling of the fresh chopped herbs. 

Serve with steamed broccolini or asparagus and good rolls warmed in the oven.  

Wine Pairings – You can’t go wrong with any of the lighter style Pinots from cooler growing regions (Sonoma Coast, Monterey, Anderson Valley, New Zealand, Germany…) – you’ll find many options in our virtual Pinot Aisle – as well as a nice Pinot Gris or even a richer, off-dry Rosé.  

Main Course, Shrimp in Sriracha-Butter

Sriracha (Se Racha).  I’m amazed at how quickly the American palate has adopted this spicy-sweet condiment from Thailand.  It is named after the coastal city of Si Racha, where it was first produced to accompany the many seafood dishes such a town is generally known for.  Its use has grown, and it is now a popular addition to any dish that can use a bit of a kick, which in my book, is just about anything that comes after the breakfast cereal.

It’s a simple paste, with just five ingredients – ground chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt.  We found a recipe on line and had it  jarred and labeled within several hours, but you can find it for a few bucks in most good grocery stores.

Here, we use it to form a simple compound butter that is used to flavor this simple fish dish.  Hey, let’s make it even easier and skip making a compound butter, which has to sit overnight, and just add the sauce to the melting butter in the… but I get ahead of myself.  Just read the recipe.  It’s easy as pie.  Easier even.  A lot easier.

Ingredients
2 Tbsp butter at room temperature
2 Tbsp Sriracha
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 – 6 good-sized shrimp per person, peeled (the shrimp, not the persons) with tail left on.
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped

Preparation

Using a fork, combine butter and Sriracha in a small bowl until well mixed.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes, add a little of the butter (to test) – if it smokes, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for about 20-30 seconds before adding the butter.  When well melted, return to heat and add the chopped garlic, cooking just until fragrant, then add the shrimp – don’t crowd the pan, be sure each little bug is in full contact with the pan.

Just before the shrimp turn fully pink, add the lemon zest, mint and basil.  Toss to coat.  When shrimp are done and herbs have wilted, serve immediately.  We like this with good side dishes of Jasmine Rice or Quinoa cooked in chicken or veggie broth and a salad dressed with rice wine vinegar, honey and sesame oil.

My Recommended Wine Pairing

The heat in this dish requires something with some sweetness and lower acidity.  Relax, relax, I’m not talking about disgusting cheap stuff that’s going to shred your cred with your date, friends, spouse or family.  It’s all about balance here, and with your tongue dancing with spice, you’ll be begging for a wine with these characteristics.  Look for a German Riesling (preferably Spätlese or Auslese) or a muscat/Moscato.  An off-dry Rosé would also be nice, but avoid the dry ones, I think they will clash quite badly with this dish.  To pull the dish more towards a drier wine, amp the garlic and turn down the Sriracha.  

Cheers!

Dave “the Wine Merchant”

Adapted from Bon Apetit, though altered to make the dish far more wine compatible.  See their original recipe here.

Recipe: Pulled Pork Shoulder – A Perfect Pinot Pairing


BBQ pork is a wine-friendly and deeply satisfying summer dish.  But there are a million variations – each with its own fiercely loyal proponents.  If there isn’t already a BBQ Pork episode on the Food Channel – some sort of heated competition (pun intended) between proponents of the various styles – there surely will be soon.

We’ve experimented with quite a number of approaches, but we prefer the results that come from the more pain-staking process – the very sort of time-sucking activity one might find as much fun as rush hour gridlock.  Which is exactly why it’s worth doing – the it requires makes this meal (and its leftovers) special for you as well as all your guests.  Food is love, after all, and what better way to show your family and friends that you care?

And get this – the time you spend around the grill, maybe reading or sipping wine and chatting with friends and family, is almost as relaxing as meditation. Try sampling the wines you’ve chosen to accompany the meal – such as these Pinot Noirs.

Procedure:

  1. The Boston Butt.  First – begin with the right cut of meat!  For slow-roasting on the grill, that means a pork shoulder your butcher mysteriously knows as a “Boston Butt”.  Ask your butcher for the whole thing, bone and all.  They tend to weigh between 6 and 8+ pounds, but if you have a choice, planning 3/4-one lbs per person allows for plenty of left-overs.
  2. Dry Rub!  The ingredients are shown below, but keep in mind that a dry rub is completely open to your own creativity.  You may want to try ours first, then branch out and make one of your own (if so, please tell us about it in the comments section!)  Get a large plastic food-grade bag, place the washed-and-dried shoulder inside, add enough rub to cover, and give the whole thing a good massage.  Leave in the refrigerator overnight.  It will get deeply red in color.
  3. Grill-Roasting, “Low & Slow!”  About seven hours before mealtime, light 35 – 40 briquettes.  When ready, arrange them for roasting via indirect heat (coals arranged along or around the edge of your grill, not directly under your meat, as seen in photo at right, though leave the pan directly under your  meat, not under the grill – you’ll see why in a few more steps).  Cover the grill with vents wide open.  Your work is done for the next hour, at which time you’ll need to add 6 – 8 fresh briquettes, and again after another hour has passed – leave it on the grill for three hours.  Add well-soaked wood chips (wrapped in foil and poked with a half dozen vent holes on top) during the final hour.  If possible, turn the top of your grill so the top vents are on the side towards the meat, thus encouraging the smoke to draw across the meat, imparting flavor before it escapes through vent holes. 
  4. Wrap it, Move Indoors.  Remove the pan containing the meat from the grill and wrap it in heavy foil before setting on the middle rack of a pre-heated 325 degree oven for another two hours.  Guys, between you and me, I like to depart from this step by wrapping the meat and its pan, but leaving it on the grill and increasing the heat with more coals and, if needed, better venting.  If you do so, you’ll benefit from an oven thermometer so you’ll know when you’ve attained 325 degrees – better to go a bit under than over.
  5. Bag it and Rest it!  We agree with Cook’s Illustrated when they say this is the difference between good pulled pork and great pulled pork! Wrap the entire assemblage, foil, pan and all,  in a brown paper shopping bag, top folded over, and rest for an hour.  During this slow cooling process the meat absorbs flavor and retains moisture. 
  6. Pull It!  Using good clean gloves to protect your hands from the heat, and to keep everything sanitary (top photo), shred the pork. Serve with small, soft white buns, the dipping sauce, dill slices and a bit of cole slaw.  Heaven.

The Dry Rub Ingredients
4 Tbsp Sweet paprika
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp brown sugar (dark)
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp ground white pepper
1 tsp Cayenne pepper

Experiment!  Try the adding or substituting dried herbs or aromatic seeds of your choice – just grind them up along with the rest of the ingredients.  Your rub can be mixed ahead of time and refrigerated, in an air-tight container for weeks.  It’s a great rub for just about anything grilled, particularly red meats.

The Mop

  • 2 Cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp red pepper (crushed)
  • 1 tsp cayenne or pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients and let sit, ideally overnight.  Serve as a dipping sauce or pour over your meat or sandwich.
Suggested Wines: Pinot Noir, Zinfandel (with lower alcohol or it fights the hot pepper!), Rosé wines.

Hamburger Wine – What to drink?

The common mantra for choosing a wine for burgers is “just use the cheap red stuff!”  I have a couple dozen reasons you don’t want that rock-gut wine for a good burger at home.  But before we begin to consider which wine to serve with your burger, let’s first define your burger!  What is it, exactly?  (click image at left for some great recipes)

First, let’s wade into the debate over how to best cook a burger at home – grilled vs. griddled.  As you can see here at Chowhound, the debate is not without proponents on both sides.  The topic arose again in this month’s issue of Food & Wine magazine, proving that the final word has yet to be established or that it’s been established but is worth re-hashing every year as grilling season flares upon us (pun intended though weak).

In sorting through all the opinions on how to cook the best burger, grilling is ahead by a length, with a cast iron skillet a distant second, and your basic frying pan and George Foreman grill getting pooh-poohed by foodies.  Just a few tips I’ve picked up along the way for grilling the perfect burger:

  • Bring your burger up to room temperature before grilling.  This helps assure an even doneness without drying out the meat.
  • Coat your grill with a high-temperature cooking oil just before setting your burger down.  Peanut oil works well.  This helps keep your burger from sticking, obviously, but also allows you to begin with thinner burgers, which shorten cooking time and helps assure the meat doesn’t dry out before it’s done!
  • Cook over direct heat for a long minute, flip for one more long minute.  Then move your burger to indirect heat for a couple minutes per side.  That’s all you’ll need if your patties are no more than 3/4 inch thick.
  • Adding cheese?  If you want it melted, be sure to add it during the cooking time or the meat will dry out.  To help melt your cheese, cover your grill or top your burger with an inverted pot.

BURGER TOPPINGS

Whether you grill or griddle, how you top your burger makes a big difference in the wine you’ll want to drink.

What Meat? The first consideration, when pairing a wine with your burger, is the meat used to create the burger.  Beef is most common, of course, but I’m quite partial to the LAMBurger, and that link will take you to a wonderful recipe from Bistro Ralph that may just put you off cowburgers for life.  The gamier taste of lamb argues for earthy wines such as Pinot and Chianti.  Even grilled portobellos provide a tasty, low-fat alternative (which also begs for Pinot, in my book!)

Grilled onions? The caramelized sweetness of grilled onions (particularly red onions, or the naturally sweet ones such as Walla Walla) works well with many new world reds (Finally!  A meal you can have with some of those California Cabs!)  Other pairing suggestions include Zinfandel, Syrah and Bordeaux blends.  Afraid to  pull the cork on your high-scoring wines?  Get over it!  You just KNOW they’re going to sit there, waiting for the perfect moment until, years from now, you discover they’re over the hill.  Do it now, the world ends on the May 21st anyway.  ;-)

Mushrooms? I like to grill the mushrooms right on the grill, wrapped in foil with some vent holes, and a simple dash of soy sauce, a quick grind or two of fresh nutmeg (trust me), and a bit of pepper and thyme for seasoning.  Whether cooked on the grill or on the stove-top, mushrooms pull your burger’s wine pairing in the direction of earthy red wines like Pinot Noir or Chianti or Spanish reds.  Go for it!

Cheese? Man, this ads another layer of complexity as far as what wine to choose with your burger. From the vast sea of cheesy options, which do you choose?  Is your burger topped with melted Kraft Singles or Swiss?  Blue cheese or goat cheese?  Cheddar?  Limburger??  It’s impossible to recommend a single wine that will be a home run with each cheese option, but as a general rule of thumb the added complexity cheese brings to a simple burger argues for a more complex, earthy wine. There you go again, getting all spendy on me.

Sauce? The most common, of course, is ketchup.  And the sweet/acid nature of the beast makes me think of blush wines.  A dry Rosé works with so many foods, it should be one of your go-to utility players.  Get over the pink color, Mr. Macho!  These wines also offer a bit of cool refreshment for those used to chilled drinks with their meal (and who among us didn’t grow up drinking iced Cokes with our Burgers?)  Plus, they generally have good acidity, which helps refresh our palate for the next bite of fatty meat/cheese/onion…

For those opting to top their burger with a bit of BBQ sauce, compatible wine pairings move towards the sweeter or fruitier side – a high-alcohol Zin might be just the ticket, as the fruit extraction is a metaphor for sweetness, a taste experience enhanced by the alcohol.  Just remember my first rule of thumb for food and wine pairing?  Match sweet with sweet, acidic with acidic.

Wait, that was rule number two.  But who’s counting?  Just go enjoy your burger.

Cheers!

Dave “the Wine Merchant” Chambers



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