Merlot with Braised Beef Short Ribs

When this marinade and slow-cooking process are used on a cut of meat with lots of well-marbled fat and connective tissue (Flank or Top Round are also fine) the resulting flavor and mouthfeel are perfect for this wine.  I again employ my secret ingredient – vanilla – which echoes the flavor of the wine. It really works!

Note: This recipe originally appeared as an insert with my October, 2009 club shipment.  Click here to see wines that pair well with this recipe.

Ingredients

6 Lbs beef short ribs 4 Ozs dried cherries
¼ Cup flour ¼ Cup fresh Thyme sprigs
½ Cup olive oil, divided 4 Sage leaves, fresh
3 Cups chopped onion 3 Bay leaves
2 Cups chopped carrots 2 Cups Merlot (don’t use the good stuff!)
2 Cups chopped celery 4 Cups low-sodium beef broth
8 Cloves garlic, peeled 1-2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 scant tsp Vanilla

Procedure
Preheat oven to 300°.  Put ribs in large bowl and coat well with salt, pepper, and flour.  Heat a heavy Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat for ~4 minutes.  Add half the olive oil and brown ribs all over, working in batches.  Set browned ribs aside.

Add remaining oil to empty pot and, when hot, add the Mirepoix (the holy trinity of onion, carrot and celery).  Cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, dried cherries  and the herbs and combine well.  Deglaze the pot with the red wine then return ribs to the pot.  Bring to a simmer and reduce for about five minutes.  Add the broth, cover, and place in oven to braise until ribs are tender – check after two hours but plan for three.

Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes.  Remove ribs and set aside (try to keep them on the bone!), and remove Thyme sprigs and Bay leaves.  Pour remaining ingredients into a food mill (or pulse in a food processor six or seven times until finely chunked), then return to pot.   Spoon off any fat, season to taste with salt and pepper, then add balsamic and Vanilla.  Return ribs to sauce until warmed through, serve with extra sauce spooned over ribs.

Serving Suggestion: Stand the ribs upright in mashed potatoes, spoon remaining sauce over both, and serve with a side dish of sautéed spinach.

Happy MerchantCheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant

Note: This recipe originally appeared as an insert with my October, 2009 shipment to members of my “Grand Cru Selections” sampling program.

Click here to see my current inventory of wines that pair well with this recipe.

Pork Ribs, Tuscan-Style (For Earthy Red Wines)

This month, my recipes seem to center around ribs.  I guess I’m craving these hearty fall-off-the-bone dishes as Autumn approaches.  Hope you are too!

These ribs are best when slowly cooked using low, indirect heat on your charcoal grill, but they are still delicious when slow-roasted in your oven until tender and crisp.  They are generously seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices that compliment the earthiness in a lighter wine, though they do have a bit of spice kick that will fight with high-alcohol wines.  What makes them Tuscan is the simple balsamic glaze finish, Balsamic vinegar being a Tuscan specialty.  I’ve adapted it here with a touch of vanilla, which helps round it out and bridge more effectively with Pinot Noir and other domestic reds.  Other bridge ingredients would include cherry juice or cranberry juice, and I encourage experimentation if these ingredients are handy in your kitchen.

Note: This recipe originally appeared as an insert with my October, 2009 shipment to members of my “Pinot Selection” sampling program.  Though optimized to showcase an earthy Pinot Noir, it works well with other such wines, such as a good Rhone-style wine (look for with alcohol below 14.5% or it will fight the spicy heat of these ribs) or the old-world wines of Italy.  Click here to see some current selections  that work well.

Ingredients (Serves 6)
2  Tbsp chopped rosemary
1 Scant Tbsp kosher salt
1 ½ Tbsp fennel seeds
2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp Chopped sage
2 tsp Chopped thyme
2 tsp Sweet paprika
1 Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp Ground coriander
1 tsp Ground cumin
1/2 tsp Ground allspice
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 Lbs pork spareribs
4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Scant tsp vanilla extract

Procedure
Combine all but the last three ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well mixed. Rub the spice paste over the meaty side of the spareribs and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate for a day.

Three hours before your planned mealtime, bring your grill (or oven) up to 300° (this is a low heat, requiring no more than 30 or so briquettes, though you’ll need to add five more every 45 minutes or so. Arrange the ribs on the indirect portion of your grill (or on a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan if cooking in your oven) with the meaty side up.  Roast until tender, about two hours.

Remove ribs from heat.  Combine the vanilla and balsamic vinegar, then brush the meaty side of the ribs and return to the direct heat side of the grill (or 6” under the broiler) until browned, ~2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut between the ribs and serve.

Serving Suggestion: mashed potatoes with chives, gingered carrots.

Adapted from a recipe by Bruce Aidells

DTWM Video Still croppedCheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant

Note: This recipe originally appeared as an insert with my October, 2009 shipment to members of my “Pinot Selection” sampling program.  Though optimized to showcase an earthy Pinot Noir, it works well with other such wines, such as a good Rhone-style wine (look for with alcohol below 14.5% or it will fight the spicy heat of these ribs) or the old-world wines of Italy.  Click here to see some current selections  that work well.

Macadamia-Encrusted Tilapia in Orange-Cream Sauce

sfw_map

For those concerned about the quality of their food supply, a valuable information resource is available at Seafood Watch (see map, above).  You’ll be pleased to note this recipe is not only delicious, but that Tilapia is recognized as one of the most sustainable sources of protein in the ocean.  Pair this recipe with a floral white wine such as Viognier, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Gewurztraminer  or even an unoaked Chardonnay.  Even a lighter off-dry Rosé works well here, though the wrong one will fight with the orange sauce.

Ingredients (Serves 6)
1 Small tilapia fillet per person (V-shaped)
¾ Cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ Cup buttermilk (or Half-n-Half)
2 Cups panko or toasted bread crumbs
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp finely chopped dill
½ Cup+ finely chopped macadamia nuts
2+ Tbsp olive oil

Sauce Ingredients
2/3 Cup orange juice
1/3 Cup half-and-half
1 Tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in ~ 1 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp fresh chopped dill

Procedure
Rinse fillets and set on rack to drain – pat dry. Get out two large plates and a medium mixing bowl and create an assembly line in the following order:

–       Station #1 – on the first plate, mix together the flour, salt and pepper,
–       Station #2 – Pour the buttermilk in the bowl and place in the center,
–       Station #3 – On the last plate, mix together the panko, butter, dill and nuts.

Dredge each fillet in station #1, dip it in station #2, then dredge again station #3.  Refrigerating your breaded fillets for 30+ minutes will set the coating.  Discard any remaining flour and milk, but reserve the panko mixture for pre-frying touch-ups.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat for ~3 minutes, add the olive oil and coat evenly (I like to add a Tbsp of butter to the oil.  It browns better but is less healthy!)  Pan-fry the fillets until golden brown on each side (about 4 minutes per side for every inch of thickness).  Remove to a warm oven until ready to plate.

The Sauce – In a saucepan, whisk together all the sauce ingredients and heat over medium heat until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serving Suggestion (see photo) – Serve on a bed of sautéed spinach (in a wide pan, warm some olive oil, dissolve 1-2 anchovies in the oil, mashing until liquefied, sauté spinach until just beginning to wilt, finish with lemon zest and toss).  Place fillets atop the bed of spinach.  Add sauce to plate beside fillets.  Enjoy!

DSCN0417Cheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant

Note: This recipe originally appeared as an insert with my October, 2009 shipment to members of my wine sampling program.  It was customized to showcase a floral white wine, such as those you’ll find here.