Filet Mignon w/ Mushroom & Madeira Sauce

 

INGREDIENTS

3 TBSP butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 12 OZ button mushrooms, thinly sliced 1/2 cup minced shallots 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme 4 5-ounce filet mignon steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick) 1/2 cup Madeira 1-1/2 cups beef stock or beef broth 1/2 cup whipping cream Salt and Pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 TBSP olive oil in heavy large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes until tender. Add 1/4 cup shallots and half of garlic, sauté until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in thyme; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to medium bowl. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plate, cover with foil. Add remaining 1/4 cup shallots and garlic to same skillet. Sauté 2 minutes. Add Madeira and boil until reduced by half. Add broth and boil until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup. Add cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Return steaks to skillet, cook to warm up, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

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WINE PAIRING

A meal as regal as this one calls for an exceptional wine. So far in 2009, the Spann Vineyards Cabernet from Sonoma is the best Cab I've had all year at any price. For $35 you would expect a good wine. The Spann Cabernet is a GREAT wine and could easily fetch $60.  This is an "OMIGOD" wine to be sure.  At least one person lucky enough to get a glass will inevitably blurt out something along those lines.  It's rich, it has depth, it's like cashmere in a glass balancing sweet jammy fruit with elegant nuances.  Peter and Betsy Spann have the ability to create beautiful wines that aren't over the top or overpowering, yet show layer after layer of interesting notes.  This reminds me of the 1988 Cheval Blanc I had last fall.  Perfectly balanced between sweet, sour, salty and bitter, it compliments the Filet pefectly.

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4th of July Hot Dogs (Chicago Style)

 

photo courtesy of blogchef.net

You can't get much more American on the 4th of July than eating a dog. I grew up on Chicago Style hot dogs because both sides of my family come from the windy city, and if there's one thing we eat every time we go to Chicago, it's hot dogs. But they have to be done right. This is about as close as I can get you to the real thing, depending on what ingredients you have available. The right ingredients matter!

The combination of ingredients come together nicely to give you tanginess from the peppers, sweetness from the relish, tart from the mustard, salt from the celery salt.  I'm always talking about your taste regions: sweet, sour, bitter and salt and there they are all represented.  The umami region gets props from the beef dog.

Retail Beef Cuts Explained (INFOGRAPHIC)

Know your beef cuts!

It's always a good idea to know your beef cuts so you know what to expect. Tenderness and cooking times vary from cut to cut, which is good to know when you're buying steaks. It's also important to know what a fair price per pound is and how market trends affect price. For example, this year filet mignon is one of the most affordable cuts available at Safeway. It's not grass fed or as high of a quality as your local butcher, but it's good to know. This graphic from the Beef council is a helpful visual way to understand cuts.

retail beef cuts

 

Check out my treasure trove of steak recipes to make use of your favorite beef cut:

Wine+Food Pairing at the Indy Car Races

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Wine and food pairings can happen every day, but whether or not they're a good pairing is a different story.  Part of my shtick is taking the snootiness out of enjoying wine.  What better setting to test that than in the IZOD Indy Car press box at Infineon Raceway, located in Sonoma.  I'm always on the look out for good, flavorful food no matter what price range or style.  Your taste buds don't care.  Your taste buds care about sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami.

Here's what I found today:

Meatloaf used to creep me out as a kid.  But as I got older I realized you can make meatloaf with quality ingredients and flavorings.  My Gramma used make something similar called Grandma Jay's Hamburger Steak in Mushroom Gravy.  Today's wine+food pairing goes to show you can find good, balanced combinations just about anywhere.

Not only was the meatloaf surprisingly good, but check out the desserts!

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Independence Day Sliders

.. Fourth of July is a great time to fire up the BBQ and grill up some burgers.  This year I tried some different slider recipes, especially now that grocery stores have slider buns in their baked goods section.  Here's a few winners from the weekend:

Pulled Pork Sliders

Ingredients: 2 lbs pork belly 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1/2 cup ketchup 1/3 cup cider vinegar 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup tomato paste 2 TBSP paprika 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce 3 TSP salt 1 1/4 TSP black pepper coleslaw toasted slider buns

Directions: Combine all the ingredients except the pork belly, slaw and the buns in a slow cooker and mix together. Add the 2 pieces of pork and cover the slow cooker. Set for 8 hours on low.

After 8 hours, using 2 forks, shred the pork and remove the pork with the remaining sauce into a large bowl. Toast the slider buns and add some of the pulled pork to each bun along with coleslaw.  Light a cigarette after then repeat.

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Inside Out Cheeseburger Sliders with Forever Caramelized Onions

Ingredients: 1 lb. ground chuck 1 egg breadcrumbs 1/4 TSP chili flakes generous salt and pepper cheddar cheese cut into cubes toasted slider buns thick cut bacon, slow cooked 1 Walla Walls sweet onion, sliced 2-3 TBSP butter

The title of this recipe has "forever caramelized onions" in it for a reason. For best results, remove skin from onions and slice thin. Cook with butter in a crock pot for 24-36 hours on low checking occasionally. You won't believe how good the flavor comes out! Add a little more butter accordingly if necessary.

Combine ingredients in a medium to large bowl. Work in the egg and breadcrumbs so the ground meat will hold it's shape. Shape into small golf ball sized servings, then work a cube of cheese in the middle making sure it's fully covered on all sides by the meat mixture. Press your thumb in the top before grilling.

Serve by grilling to desired doneness with your choice of condiments, thick cut bacon and those beautiful golden onions.

Lamb Sliders

Ingredients

1/2 lb ground lamb 1/5 tbsp minced garlic 1/2 cup minced shallots 1 TBSP minced thyme 1 TBSP minced cilantro leaves 1 TSP minced mint leaves 1/4 TSP ground cumin 1/2 TSP coriander powder 1/2 TSP ground black pepper salt to taste

12 slider buns or mini pita breads

Method

Place all the ingredients for the patties in a mixing bowl and combine well using your hands. Shape into about six small sized patties not too thin, but not too thick either. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes for the flavors to combine.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Remove the patties from the fridge and make about three holes each in the patties with your finger.

In a large oven proof non-stick skillet, heat the oil and add the onions. When the onions start to sizzle, arrange the lamb patties on top of the onion bed without touching each other.

Bake in the oven for 6 minutes on one side. Turn the patties over, and stir the onion bed to make sure they don’t burn. If it shows the signs of burning, remove the onions from the pan after the first 6 minutes, and finish caramelizing on stove top, when the patties finish cooking on the other side.

To serve, warm up the pita bread/buns in the oven, spread some spicy mayonnaise or a blended yogurt or chutney of your choice, arrange the meat patties and top it with the caramelized onions. You can add some lettuce, tomato etc to the burger as well.

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Herb Crusted Filet of Beef paired w/ Quilceda Creek Cabernet

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tenderloin

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS 1 3-lb. Beef Tenderloin 3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1/2 cup Madeira 2/3 cup Vermouth 1/4 Cognac 1 bay leaf 1 TBSP butter 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 TBSP marjoram 1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped 1/2 cup cold water sea salt and pepper

HERB CRUST: 3 slices white bread, crusts removed 1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped (thyme, marjoram, rosemary, parsley) 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

At least 2 hours before cooking, combine all ingredients together (not Herb Crust or Madeira) in a large bowl or pan. Place meat in mixture and cover entire cut of beef with herb mix. Refrigerate for later cooking.

To make herb crust, place bread in food processor with herbs and garlic. Process until well blended and fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grill Method: Preheat grill to medium high. Take beef out of marinade and set marinade aside for later. Cook each side of meat 4 minutes or so giving it a nice sear on all sides. After searing, move beef to upper rack or cooler side of grill and cook 20 minutes.

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425°F. Oven sear beef (brown sides, about 5-7 minutes each side) then reduce heat to 350°F. Cook for 30-35 minutes making sure to baste throughout cooking.

After beef is done cooking, remove filet from grill or oven and place on a platter, then cover with foil tent. Place platter in oven with oven off and door open, or with the oven on WARM for 20 minutes. Take the marinade that was set aside and pour it into a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil and reduce liquid by half, add madeira, then reduce by half. Serve sauce on the side late with beef. If you cooked the beef in the oven, you can use the roasting pan instead of a small saucepan so you get all the yummy bits.

To finish, rub herb crust mixture all over beef, brush a light amount of olive oil if needed. Place herb-covered beef back on the grill and cook each side about 2-3 minutes per side taking care to not burn the crust. If using the oven, broil each side for 2-3 minutes taking care to avoid burning.

Carve beef and serve with sauce on side.

Wine Pairings: Here's a regal beef dish that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you actually like the people you have over at your house you can bring out the good wines to impress them. Better yet, pull out a magnum. If it's your family and they're driving you up one wall and down another you can opt for the lower tier swill. If you dine at Chez Bakas, chances are it's all good stuff. Because this beef dish requires a little extra preparation, why not serve a wine that's got a little extra Bruce Lee round house kick to the taste buds? I'd serve these wines with this dish:

+ Quinta do Crasto Old Vines Reserva - Portugal + Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - Washington + St. Supéry Dollarhide Ranch Cabernet - Napa + Vilafonté Series C - South Africa

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Grandma Jay's Hamburger Steak in Mushroom Gravy

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This is a recipe my Grandma made for my Mom, who in turn made it for us growing up.  Chances are we'll make this for our kids some day.  It's quick, easy and can be substituted with ground turkey.

INGREDIENTS

1 LB ground beef 1 egg 1/4 cup coarse dry bread crumbs 1 TSP Worcestershire sauce 1 PKG dehydrated onion soup mix 2 TBSP olive oil 2 TBSP flour 1 can mushrooms, drained (save juice) 1/8 TSP ea. Salt and Pepper

Mix meat, egg, crumbs, seasonings and half the dry soup mix together.  Shape into 4 patties and brown in a large skillet on both sides in oil.  Remove meat, set aside.  Blend flour into drippings, then add mushroom liquid plus enough water to make approx. 2 cups.  Cook until thickened and smooth, stirring occasionally. Add remaining onion soup mix plus mushrooms, cook 5 minutes, then add meat.  Heat meat in gravy, spooning gravy over top until desired serving temp.

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Southwestern Skillet Steak with Chipotle Salsa

. In the middle of winter grills often sit covered in snow, waiting for a nice day to come along so they can once again serve as man's other best friend.  That leaves BBQ fans challenged to cook their steaks indoors and still get that grilled texture.  My father-in-law introduced me to this recipe that will scratch the itch for people who love a good grilled steak.

skillet

INGREDIENTS for STEAKS 2 8-ounce New York strip steaks (about 1" thick), trimmed 2 TBSP olive oil 1 TSP coarse salt 1 large onion, sliced 2 large garlic cloves, chopped 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro 1 TBSP plus 1 TSP chili powder 1/4 TSP dried crushed red pepper 1/4 TSP Cumin 1 TBSP water 2 poblano chilies, seeded, sliced Additional chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix in onion, garlic, 2 TBSP chopped cilantro, 1 TBSP chili powder and crushed red pepper. Add 1 TBSP water. Cover and cook mixture 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chilies and sauté until tender about 6 minutes. Transfer mixture to plate leaving some bits in the skillet.

Rub each steak with salt, pepper, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Raise heat to high and add steaks to same skillet. Cook as desired, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to platter and cover with aluminum foil. Top steaks with cilantro. Serve with onion mix on top or on the side with salsa.

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INGREDIENTS for CHIPOTLE SALSA 3 cups fresh corn kernals (about 3 ears) 4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced separately 2 TBSP unsalted butter 2 garlic cloves, minced 1-½ TSP coarse salt 1-½ TSP ground cumin 1-TSP chili powder ½ TSP black pepper 2 plum tomatoes, finely diced 1 to 2 fresh chipotle chiles, finely diced, including seeds

Heat a dry large cast-iron skillet over moderately high heat until hot, then pan-roast corn, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Cook white part of scallions in butter with garlic, 1 TSP salt, ½ TSP each cumin and chili powder, and ¼ TSP pepper in skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until scallions are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in corn, tomatoes, and chipotles.

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WINE PAIRINGS - With most steaks you can pair most hearty reds like Cabernet, Meritage blends or similar wines.  Because this steak has some heat, you want a hearty red with a ripe style so the sweetness offsets the heat.  Think of wines with a "jammy" component like some Australian Shiraz or Petite Sirah style wines.  The finished steak will have texture that is almost blackened.  Here's a few wines that will marry up nicely:

one of my favorite Australian wineries

The Tapestry wines are phenomenal!  And they're widely available in the U.S. in most states.  This wine should be between $15 and $20 on the shelf at most retailers.  I like it because you get the riper style without over extraction.  This gem comes in at 14.5% alcohol and is aged in French, Yugoslavian and American oak.

IMG_7205

Quixote wines from Napa have reinvigorated my love for Petite Sirah.  The winery sits nestled away in the hills of the Stag's Leap District right next door to Shafer.  Full throttle, dark, inky, naughty, funkified velvety goodness that'll stand up to this meal.  Enjoy!

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Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese Porcini Sauce

 

INGREDIENTS

4 Filet Mignon Steaks 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 LB fresh porcini mushrooms, stemmed, sliced 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 1/2 cups whipping cream 1/2 cup crumbled Purple Haze blue cheese 2 TSP minced canned chipotle chiles or Chipotle sauce 1 TBSP fresh tarragon, chopped Salt & Pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add porcini mushrooms and tarragon and sauté until soft, about 4-5 minutes minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer sauce until thickened. Stir in blue cheese cheese and chipotle sauce. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Sauce can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Season steaks with olive oil salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in another heavy large skillet. Cook steaks in skillet until brown on both sides and cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Rewarm sauce. Transfer 1 steak to each of plates. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.

This recipe is fairly easy to execute as there aren't many ingredients.  Julia Child or Jaques Pepin would (hopefully) like that there's simplicity, yet extreme tastiness here.  The sauce is cream based, which means it's thick and you need a wine to cut through the creaminess to stand up to all the flavor.  Keep it simple, a good Cabernet Sauvignon will be a nice pairing to the beef and rich sauce.

I liked the St. Supéry Dollarhide Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon because it has a tinge of spice on the palate.  It'll mingle nicely with the hint of spice you get from the chipotle in the sauce.  In addition, the Dollarhide Cab is complex, but it won't overpower the tender cut of beef.

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Holiday Wine+Food Pairing Recipes

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Strawberry and Almond Spinach Salad

0622SpinachStrawberry3

INGREDIENTS 1 LB baby spinach leaves, washed 1/2 cup sliced green onions 1/3 cup slivered almonds, drizzled with honey and slightly toasted 1 cup sliced strawberries 2-3 TBSP chopped fresh dill

INGREDIENTS FOR DRESSING: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/4 cup sugar or Truvia 1 TSP garlic, minced 1/4 TSP sea salt 1/4 TSP fresh ground pepper 1/4 TSP dry mustard powder 1/4 TSP onion powder 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, sugar or Truvia, olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, dry mustard and onion powder.

Wash dill and pat dry or use a spinner. Trim off feathery ends, discarding thick stems. finely chop dill and set aside. Wash and slice strawberries.

Wash spinach and spin dry or pat dry with paper towels. Place spinach in large mixing bowl. Thinly slice green onions and add to spinach in bowl. Add slivered toasted almonds and chopped dill and mix together.

Whisk dressing a few time to be sure it's well-mixed, then add desired amount of dressing to salad and toss.  To keep dressing from making leaves heavy, pour dressing around sides of bowl mixing spinach against it rather than pouring dressing directly on to spinach.

Arrange salad on individual serving plates. Toss sliced strawberries with 1-2 TBSP of dressing, then arrange strawberries over salad on each plate and serve.

Wine Pairings: The strawberries deliver a bit of tanginess that would benefit from a touch of salt and pepper. This recipe is meant to be easy to make and easy to transport to parties. It's colorful, it's light and it's healthy. Better yet, this recipe is created to pair with wines you'd expect to find at holiday parties like Chardonnay or Pinot Gris. An unoaked Chardonnay will be even better because the fruit and acidity will be more complimentary with the strawberries. Here's a few wines I'd recommend:

+ Bethel Heights Pinot Gris - Oregon + Spann Vineyards Chardonnay/Viognier - Sonoma + St. Supéry Oak Free Chardonnay - Napa

2006chardonnayviognierlabel.jpg.w300h299

Roast Lamb with Shallots, Mint and Mustard

Roast Lamb Chops

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS For lamb: 1 crown of lamb made from two 8-rib racks (about 4 1/2 pounds total) 3 TBSP butter, room temperature 1 TBSP plus 1/2 TSP Dijon mustard 2 TSP dried rosemary

1 cup dry white wine large shallots, chopped 1/4 cup chicken stock 3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped

For Spring Vegetables with Mint: 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved 1 baby carrot bunch, stems trimmed to 1 inch, peeled 1 10 OZ. basket pearl onions, peeled 1 LB fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into thirds

3 TBSP butter 3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon mustard and 1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary in bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place lamb in roasting pan. Rub all over with butter mixture. Roast 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. and continue roasting until thermometer inserted into lamb registers 140°F. for medium-rare, about 40 minutes. Transfer lamb to platter; let stand 15 minutes.

Pour off fat from roasting pan and set pan aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over low heat. Add shallots and 1/2 teaspoon rosemary; sauté until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add wine to roasting pan and bring to boil over high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Add wine to skillet. Add stock; boil until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon mustard and mint. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon vegetables in center of and around roast. Serve, cutting lamb into chops and spooning sauce over.

To make spring vegetables: Place potatoes in vegetable steamer and steam 10 minutes. Add carrots and onions and steam until vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add asparagus and steam until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes more.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mint and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and stir until vegetables are coated with butter.

Wine Pairings: The right selection of lamb will make all the difference. Colorado lamb is some of the best in the country and should be readily available at most decent markets. The resulting holiday dish will be tender and flavorful which bodes well for a lighter style red wine. Cabernet or high alcohol reds will most likely overpower the flavors. Here's a few I recommend:

+ Chateau Musar Rouge 1995 - Lebanon + Twisted Oak River of Skulls - Calaveras County, CA

+ Lucienne Pinot Noir Doctor's Vineyard - Central Coast, CA

+ Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc - Walla Walla, WA

Pinot_Doctor's_07

 

Herb Crusted Filet of Beef

tenderloin

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS 1 3-lb. Beef Tenderloin 3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1/2 cup Madeira 2/3 cup Vermouth 1/4 Cognac 1 bay leaf 1 TBSP butter 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 TBSP marjoram 1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped 1/2 cup cold water sea salt and pepper

HERB CRUST: 3 slices white bread, crusts removed 1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped (thyme, marjoram, rosemary, parsley) 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

At least 2 hours before cooking, combine all ingredients together (not Herb Crust or Madeira) in a large bowl or pan. Place meat in mixture and cover entire cut of beef with herb mix. Refrigerate for later cooking.

To make herb crust, place bread in food processor with herbs and garlic. Process until well blended and fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grill Method: Preheat grill to medium high. Take beef out of marinade and set marinade aside for later. Cook each side of meat 4 minutes or so giving it a nice sear on all sides. After searing, move beef to upper rack or cooler side of grill and cook 20 minutes.

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425°F. Oven sear beef (brown sides, about 5-7 minutes each side) then reduce heat to 350°F. Cook for 30-35 minutes making sure to baste throughout cooking.

After beef is done cooking, remove filet from grill or oven and place on a platter, then cover with foil tent. Place platter in oven with oven off and door open, or with the oven on WARM for 20 minutes. Take the marinade that was set aside and pour it into a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil and reduce liquid by half, add madeira, then reduce by half. Serve sauce on the side late with beef. If you cooked the beef in the oven, you can use the roasting pan instead of a small saucepan so you get all the yummy bits.

To finish, rub herb crust mixture all over beef, brush a light amount of olive oil if needed. Place herb-covered beef back on the grill and cook each side about 2-3 minutes per side taking care to not burn the crust. If using the oven, broil each side for 2-3 minutes taking care to avoid burning.

Carve beef and serve with sauce on side.

Wine Pairings: Here's a regal beef dish that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you actually like the people you have over at your house you can bring out the good wines to impress them. Better yet, pull out a magnum. If it's your family and they're driving you up one wall and down another you can opt for the lower tier swill. If you dine at Chez Bakas, chances are it's all good stuff. Because this beef dish requires a little extra preparation, why not serve a wine that's got a little extra Bruce Lee round house kick to the taste buds? I'd serve these wines with this dish:

+ Quinta do Crasto Old Vines Reserva - Portugal + Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - Washington + St. Supéry Dollarhide Ranch Cabernet - Napa + Vilafonté Series C - South Africa

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Garlic Roasted Chicken

garlic roasted chicken

INGREDIENTS 1 free ranch whole chicken 2 whole heads of garlic, unpeeled and cut in half horizontally 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 cup white wine 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, Marjoram Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375° Rinse chicken inside and out with cold water. Drain and pat dry. Mix together 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper, 1TBSP sea salt and herbs in a small bowl. In a 9x14 roasting pan, cover chicken with olive oil making sure to coat entire bird. Rub salt, pepper and herb mixture all over chicken including inside the cavity. Wrap chicken legs together with string. Put halved garlic heads into pan around chicken. Put roasting pan in oven on center rack and cook for 20 minutes. Baste chicken with wine and roast for another 25 minutes. Baste chicken again using pan juices. Turn chicken over and repeat process. After 90 minutes chicken skin should be golden brown. Chicken is done when clear juices run from thigh after poking with a knife.

Place chicken on platter with tail in the air so moisture and juices flow downhill to breast meat. Cover with foil and let chicken stand 10 minutes before serving with roasted garlic.

Wine Pairings: Here's a chicken dish that'll go with that buttery butterball Chardonnay you've been wanting to open. It's chicken. Keep it simple and enjoy! A few wines I'd serve:

+ Au Bon Climat Nuits Blanches Chardonnay - Santa Barbara + Sokol Blosser Evolution - Oregon + Domaine Jean-Marc Vincent, Les Hautes, Auxey-Duresses 2006 - Burgundy

Snowball Cookies

snowball cookies

INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup butter 2 TBSP sugar 1 TSP vanilla 3/4 cup chopped pecans 1 cup flour 1/4 TSP salt Powdered sugar

Cream butter Add all other ingredients, except the powdered sugar. Mix well. Shape into 1" balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes. These should be light in color, not brown. Cool and roll in powdered sugar.

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Uncle Rico's Crock Pot Barbacoa

 WINE PAIRING:

Jip Jip Rocks is one of those wines that flies under the radar, but when y0u drink it you're reminded good wine doesn't need to cost a bunch of money.  For about $12 you can get a deftly crafted red wine that' neither too hot, nor too big... The Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz shows the beauty of what Southern Australian Shiraz can be.

The Barbacoa is a flavorful, tender red meat.  Pair it with a hearty red wine that'll stand up to it and provide sweet jamminess to offset the spiciness.

Colorado Baby Back Ribs

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MARINADE: 2 cups chicken stock 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup dry sherry 2 TBSP brown sugar 1 TSP fennel seeds, crushed 8 black peppercorns OTHER INGREDIENTS: 1 rack of baby back ribs 3 green onions, chopped

In a saucepan, Bring marinade ingredients to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes, then cool. Place ribs in a shallow pan, cover with marinade. Refrigerate over night, or at least for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350ºF as ribs come to room temp. Bake ribbs for 45 minutes, basting occasionallly. Heat grill to medium. Cook ribs for 5-7 minutes each side basting with marinade. Serve garnished with green onions and marinade on the side.

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Norwegian Meatballs with Cream Sauce

Spaghetti Bolognese
Image by Lachlan Hardy via Flickr

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Makes about 30 meatballs

Meatballs 4 TBSP butter 1 small onion, chopped 2 slices day-old rye bread, crusts trimmed, torn into pieces (about 1-1/2 cups) 2/3 cup beef stock or beef broth 1 egg 1/4 TSP ground allspice 1/4 TSP ground white pepper 1/2 pound ground beef 1/2 pound ground veal

Sauce 2 TBSP all purpose wheat flour 1 1/3 cups beef stock or beef broth 2 TBSP whipping cream Ground allspice

For meatballs: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Combine bread and stock in large bowl. Mix in onion mixture, egg, allspice and pepper. Add ground beef and veal and blend well. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill.) Shape meat into 1 1/4-inch balls. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs and sauté until cooked through and brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to platter and keep warm. Reserve drippings in skillet. For sauce:
Add flour to drippings in skillet and stir over medium heat until brown, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock and cream. Simmer until sauce is thick and smooth, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with allspice, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over meatballs and serve.

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Bouef a la Bourguignonne

dried bay leaves
Image via Wikipedia

2-1/2 beef chuck, well marbled, cut into cubes 1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon 2 celery stalks 1 carrot, peeled and split 4 TBSP vegetable oil 30 button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters 4 OZ slab bacon, cut into 1/2" cubes 3 QT beef stock 12 whole peppercorns 16 small pearl onions, peeled 2 bay leaves 1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped 2 TBSP butter Salt and Pepper

Place meat and red wine in a non-corrosive dish and marinate for 1 day. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Drain wine and set wine aside. Pat meat dry, season with salt and pepper. Heat beef stock and keep warm. Heat 2 TBSP oil in large skillet and sear meat on all sides. Place meat in 8 QT Dutch oven. Place 3 to 4 pieces bacon, yellow onions, carrots and celery stalks in saute pan and cook until browned. Add to meat. Drain fat and de-glaze pan with a cup of reserved wine and add to meat. Add remaining wine, thyme, pepper corns and bay leaves. Add enough stock to cover by one inch. Cover pot and place in oven, cook until meat is very tender, approx. 3 hours. Heat a large saute pan and add mushrooms, bacon and pearl onions. Cook until brown. Set aside. Remove meat from pot and place in baking dish, season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Strain cooking liquid into large sauce pay and add remaining stock, if any, reduce by half. Add butter and chocolate and stir until melted. Add braised meat, mushrooms, bacon and pearl onions to sauce. Serve with potato puree or polenta.

This recipe is unreal. Truly a meal fit for a king, or at least for people you like. Each time we have this particular dish I feel like my life is complete in almost an emotional response kind of way. There's not much that could improve the experience, other than serving a wine like the Spann Vineyard MoJo. The MoJo is a Super Tuscan-inspired blend with a little sweetness to it, but it's like cashmere in a glass. It's not over the top, or too rich, but it's stylish like a BMW. Sleek, sexy, refined with many subtle nuances but elegant. I'd put it up against any wine twice the price. This is the kind of wine you pull out when you want to impress company when they come over for dinner.  I find both recipe and wine are very well balanced between sweet, salt, bitter and sour.  Both wine and recipe both have matching intensity's of flavor.  For more on the basic concept to pairing wine and food go here.

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Filet Mignon With Shallot Cream Sauce

Vilafonté Vineyards
Image of Vilafonté Vineyards via Snooth

Serves 4 people

A meal fit for a king. Filet is one of the best cuts of meat because of how tender it is. The shallot and cream sauce makes the steak even more flavorful. In order to cut through the heavier cream based sauce, a red wine with enough acidity yet not overpowering is what’s needed to make this meal truly regal. A few wines I like to pair with this recipe are Quinta do Crasto Douro Red from Portugal, Vilafonté Series M from South Africa or Spann Vineyards Cabernet from Sonoma. These three wines have a cashmere texture while maintaining a sense of elegance and power--Perfect for Filet Mignon. Layers of secondary and tertiary flavors provide a velvet curtain backdrop for the main player…perfectly cooked filet and shallot cream sauce. Both recipe and suggested wines make a good pairing because they have a nice sense of balance between Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Salt. On the Bakas Flava Intensity Scale both recipe and suggested wines are around an 8-9 so they won't overpower each other. Enjoy! tongue-map_pairing1 tongue-map-intensity_9

INGREDIENTS 4 filet mignon steaks (6-8 ounces each) 3 TBSP butter 2 TBSP olive oil 1-¾ cups beef stock or beef broth 1 cup whipping cream ¼ cup chopped shallots 1 TSP Dijon mustard 1 TBSP chopped tarragon 3 TBSP Brandy or Cognac 2 TBSP drained green peppercorns Salt and Pepper

In a small saucepan, boil beef stock until reduced to ¾ cup. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper then cook in large skillet to desired doneness, about 7-9 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to plate. Melt butter over medium-high heat in same pan steaks cooked in (do not clean pan). Add chopped shallots and sauté 2 minutes. Add reduced beef stock, whipping cream, Cognac and green peppercorns. Reduce to desired thickness. Stir in tarragon. Spoon sauce over steaks.

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