Lamb Stew with Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or top round, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 1 pound baby carrots, peeled
  • 1 pound baby parsnips, peeled
  • 1 pound small fingerling potatoes
  • 1/2 pound baby turnips, halved
  • 8 baby fennel bulbs, trimmed, fronds reserved and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the flour in a large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the lamb cubes in 4 batches, tossing to coat thoroughly.
  2. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add one-fourth of the lamb cubes and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 6 minutes; transfer to a plate. Brown the remaining floured lamb in 3 batches, adding 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot per batch. Reduce the heat if the casserole bottom darkens too much.
  3. Return all of the lamb to the casserole. Add the wine and vinegar and bring to a boil. Add the stock and tarragon and return to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the casserole and braise the stew in the oven for about 1 hour, or until the meat is nearly tender.
  4. Add the carrots, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, fennel and shallot to the lamb stew. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring to distribute the vegetables. Cover the casserole, return it to the oven and cook until the meat and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour longer. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and fennel fronds and serve the stew in deep bowls.

Recipe by Jim Clendenen courtesy of www.foodandwine.com.

What to Look For In November

casas-del-bosque-reserva-pinot-noir-2015-editedIn November, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four exciting wines from around the world. The first is the 2015 Casas del Bosque Reserva Pinot Noir. For centuries France dominated the production of world-class Pinot Noir. Burgundy and Champagne were the only games in town until California and Oregon got in the act, followed by Tasmania and others. Now, it is Chile’s turn. Casas del Bosque has fashioned a riveting Pinot in their 2015 Casas del Bosque Reserva Pinot Noir from Casablanca Valley. Medium to full-bodied, this 2015 Pinot offers a savory nose along with plenty of juicy cherry and raspberry flavors, beautiful spice tones, fine texture, and ripe tannins. Youthful, exuberant and full of varietal flavor, it is easy to see why the 2015 Casas del Bosque Reserva Pinot Noir has received numerous 90+ ratings, including 92 Points from James Suckling.

Our next Premier Series feature is Krone’s 2015 Borealis Vintage Cuvée Brut. As a real star, this serious sparkling wine shines and sparkles with Champagne flavor and style. Not only is Krone’s Borealis Vintage Brut comprised of Champagne’s traditional cépage of Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%), whereby only free run juice makes it into the cuvée, the Borealis Vintage Cuvée is totally bottle-fermented Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) in the time-honored Champagne tradition of production. Elegant, flavorful, and delightful to the eye and palate, it is hard to imagine a finer, more affordable Champagne-style sparkling wine than the 2015 Borealis Vintage Cuvée Brut.

Next in this month’s quartet is the bold, beautiful 2013 Cambridge Cellars Elsbree Vineyard Russian River Zinfandel. Zinfandel is California’s own special variety and there is no better place to find exceptional Zinfandel than in California’s Russian River Valley. The 2013 Cambridge Cellars Elsbree Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel provides ample testimony to support that claim, as it is deeply colored, beautifully balanced, vibrant and rich in flavor. One hardly notices the wine’s 14.9% alcohol as it delivers up an enticing bouquet of blueberry and black currant fruit, warm spices and hints of black pepper. On the palate, the youthful Elsbree Vineyard Zinfandel exhibits more of its structure, but never loses its composure; this Zin strikes a fine balance between red and black fruits, spice and tannin in the mouth. Best of all, it unfolds quickly in the glass, becoming deeper and more authoritative with each sip.

Rounding out this month’s offerings is the 2015 Cantarutti Collio Orientali Ribolla Gialla. This rare varietal from Italy’s Collio Orientali offers a rich, eye-catching color and a harmonious aroma redolent with the scents of stone fruits and minerals along with hints of exotic spices. On the palate, the 2015 Cantarutti Ribolla Gialla reveals fine, textured fruit flavors, which provide a more luxurious feel than the more familiar Pinot Grigio and other lighter white wines from northern Italy. Medium-bodied and pleasantly dry, this wine lingers a bit on the palate and ends on a savory note. In typical Collio fashion, a glass of Cantarutti’s Ribolla Gialla invokes the beauty and sunshine of summer in Collio.

les-combes-d-arnevel-chateauneuf-du-pape-2012The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is pleased to offer three beautiful but uniquely different selections in November. The 2012 Combes d’Arnevel Châteauneuf-du-Pape begins this month’s odyssey, as it cuts a beautiful figure in the glass and captivates all of the senses. This is a smooth, savory Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Jerome Quiot who in the excellent 2012 vintage has taken full advantage of nature’s bounty. Savory scents of black cherry, spring flowers, and Provençal herbs dominate the wine’s enchanting bouquet, while hints of garrigue and wild herbs blend with the wine’s kirsch-like flavors in the mouth. Medium-bodied and impeccably balanced, the 2012 Les Combes D’Arnevel Châteauneuf-du-Pape happily harkens back to a more traditional style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Our next November Collectors Series offering is the non-vintage Comte Audoin de Dampierre Grande Cuvée Brut, a serious, complex Champagne that offers a delicate and persistent mousse, exquisite texture, delicious fruit, and pinpoint minerality, all of which render Dampierre’s Grande Cuvée irresistibly delicious. Both zesty and compelling in aroma and flavor, the Dampierre Grande Cuvée is a wine that can be enjoyed at any time of day. Pour a glass of Dampierre’s Grande Cuvée, take a sip, and then allow this elixir to bloom in the glass like a flower unfolds on a warm spring day. No wonder this Champagne earns high marks everywhere it goes.

Rounding out or should we say filling out this month’s Collectors Series is the 2013 Shatter Côtes de Catalanes Grenache from the South of France. This bold red tops out at 15.6% alcohol, but one wouldn’t know it from tasting it… that is until one had consumed a good bit of it. Rich, robust, but smooth on the palate, the opaque, nearly black 2013 Shatter offers up an enticing aroma of dark cherries and ripe plums infused with a light, pleasant herbal quality. In the mouth, Shatter is unctuous, rich, and robust, as its opulent fruit appears front and center before being artfully framed by ripe tannins and just the right touch of oak. Layered, long and lingering on the palate, the 2013 Shatter Grenache is no wilting flower.

Salud!
Don

Duck Confit

duck-confitIngredients:

  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 duck legs with thighs
  • 4 duck wings, trimmed
  • About 4 cups duck fat

Preparation:

1. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish or plastic container large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer. Evenly scatter half the garlic, shallots, and thyme in the container. Arrange the duck, skin-side up, over the salt mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining salt, garlic, shallots, and thyme and a little pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days.

2. Preheat the oven to 225°F. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Brush the salt and seasonings off the duck. Arrange the duck pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish or ovenproof saucepan. Pour the melted fat over the duck (the duck pieces should be covered by fat) and place the confit in the oven. Cook the confit slowly at a very slow simmer — just an occasional bubble — until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, 2-3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven. Cool and store the duck in the fat. (The confit will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.)

Recipe by Tom Colicchio courtesy of www.epicurious.com.

Bold Red Wines: What America Craves

bold-red-wineEveryday wine drinkers, collectors and self-styled connoisseurs alike all seem to crave bold red wines and gobble them up with glee. And why not? Flavor drives our palate preferences and the wines we buy. This is not to take anything away from a lighter, more delicate red wine such as a juicy Morgon Cru Beaujolais or a complex, racy California Pinot Noir. Every wine has a place and its own appeal. Yet, for many of us, there is something compelling about bold-flavored wines that fill the mouth and, on occasion at least, completely satiate the senses.

Bold red wines, like anything else, exist on a continuum. Consequently, what constitutes a bold red to one person may not please the palate of another. Certainly, the level of alcohol and the tannic structure of a wine contribute to the boldness of wines, but bold does not have to mean brawny or brazen. Bold flavors are born of esters, the combination of acids and alcohols, which impart aroma and flavor to wine. Enjoyable bold red wines provide much more than alcohol and tannins; they display rich, complex flavors, pronounced varietal character, and a sense of place, along with authority and structure. Although some bold red wines may register 14.5%-15% alcohol or more, many others will not; they will rely upon rich fruit flavors, pronounced ripe tannins, well-integrated oak tones from expert barrel ageing, physiological ripeness, and the deft hand of a skilled winemaker to engender their bold delicious flavors.

Full-bodied California Cabernets and Syrahs that brim with varietal character, single vineyard red Zinfandels, sublime Priorats, splendid Tempranillos from Spain’s Ribera del Duero, Châteauneuf-du-Papes and flavor-packed Grenache offerings from Languedoc and the Rhône Valley of France, and highly acclaimed Carmenères, Cabernets and Malbec blends from South America are just some red wines that may qualify as bold reds.

For bold, beautiful, long-lived California Cabernets of exceptional quality look to Caymus, Harlan, Lewis, Krug and Obsidian Ridge, with Obsidian Ridge a contender for the title of the greatest of all values in premium California Cabernet Sauvignon. Beckmen and Stoplman Vineyards fashion bold, hedonistic Syrahs from California’s Ballard Canyon, wines that easily match the quality of California’s top Cabernet Sauvignons. Tempranillo-based Bosconcillos, Condado de Haza, Emilio Moro and Pesquera from Ribera del Duero, and the deep, robust blends from Galena and Pasanau in Priorat also demonstrate Spain’s acumen in fashioning bold red wines. Château Beaucastel and Domaine Grand Tinel fashion equally impressive wines across the border in France from old vine Grenache, as do a host of Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers. And then there is Zinfandel from Cambridge Cellars, Martinelli and Tierra Y Mar, Carmenère from Casa Silva, Casas del Bosque and other Chilean producers, and many more bold reds from expert producers around the globe. Bold is indeed beautiful!

Salud!
Don

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Spring Onions, and Thyme

Hearty yet healthy, serve this dish with polenta and broccolini for a dish that is sure to impress. Try pairing it with Montaña Rioja Crianza 2012 from this month’s Premier Series.

Ingredients

  • chicken-breasts-stuffed-with-goat-cheese-caramelized-spring-onions-and-thyme1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cups thinly sliced spring onions (about 1 pound)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Preparation

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pan; cook 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly. Combine onion mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheese, parsley, milk, and thyme in a small bowl, stirring with a fork.

2. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket; stuff 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes; turn chicken over. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken from pan; let stand 10 minutes. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Add broth, and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 9 minutes). Serve with chicken.

Photo and recipe from: www.myrecipes.com.