I think you all know by now that I love food and wine pairing. The way they work together is truly fascinating to me. Every now and again you find a combination that is more than the sum of its parts and each is elevated to new heights when enjoyed together. Those are magic moments.
Maybe that’s a lot to expect from every meal, but giving it even a little thought can result in a lot more really good combinations. Plus, it’s fun to play. I’ve been doing this for a while on 8 & $20, and I have great time thinking about the interplay.
I was recently looking back through some files and found one of my earliest forays into the world of food and wine pairings that never went live. It’s quite tasty and thought I’d resurrect it and share it now. It’s an elegant lamb dish perfect for a romantic night in. I make versions of the cauliflower that it’s served with quite often and still love it. (And not gonna lie, you’ll probably see versions of it again!)
This dish was created to pair with a lovely little Bordeaux–Domaine de L’A Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2011. This is a Merlot driven BDX with a little Cabernet Franc (80/20 in 2011). It was medium bodied with a combo of red and black berries with graphite notes and pepper. The wine was still pretty young at the time and it probably would be even better now if you can find it, as some of the edges would’ve had time to smooth out by now.
All that said, lamb is such a wine friendly meat that you’re sure to have pairing luck with a decent range of red wines. I hope you enjoy!
If wine pairing intrigues you too, I’d like to invite you to come check out a new project I’ve been working on with a friend–SommsTable.com. The site is fully dedicated to wine pairing from the point of view of the wine first.
Several posts are already up, including my first 2 recipes for the site:
Ridge Geyserville with Smoky Bourbon Pork Chops and Warm Farro-Squash Salad
and Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile and Pasta with Spicy Salami Tomato Sauce.
Roasted Lamb with Thyme Wine Sauce and CauliflowerMakes 2-3 servings
Cauliflower with Currants and Almonds1 lb cauliflower, chopped into florets
1/8 cup olive oil, or as needed
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of dried coriander
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1/8 cup dried currants
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Lamb Chops and Garlic-Thyme Rub1 lb rack of lamb
½ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Thyme, finely chopped
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
Thyme Pan SauceGarlic-Thyme Rub (above)
¼ cup red wine
2 cups veal or beef Stock
2 Tbsp Wondra Flour
Sprig of Thyme
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Cauliflower with Currants and Almonds1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Mix together the olive oil, chopped garlic, lemon juice, dried coriander, and a hefty pinch of salt and ground pepper.
3. Drizzle the oil mixture over the cauliflower florets and toss well to coat.
4. Lightly grease an oven-safe baking sheet or pan. Spread the cauliflower out evenly over the baking pan, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
5. Place the pan in the oven. Let the cauliflower roast for approximately 30 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown, tossing every 10-15 minutes.
6. Once the florets are starting to brown, toss the dried currants and slivered almonds over the cauliflower and mix together. Taste the cauliflower and adjust seasoning if needed. Return to the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.
For the Lamb and Garlic-Thyme Rub1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Trim off excess fat off the lamb and set aside.
3. Mix together the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and black pepper. (If you have access to a mortar and pestle or a small food processor, you can use these to better grind and blend the ingredients together.) Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning if necessary.
4. Divide garlic-thyme mixture and set half aside. Use the remaining half as a rub for the rack of lamb, making sure to coat the meat evenly.
5. Heat a small amount of cooking oil in an oven-safe pan over med-high heat. When the oil and pan are very hot, add the rack of lamb. Sear well until a medium brown crust begins to form. Flip the rack and sear the second side.
6. Once the lamb is nicely browned, transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the lamb until it reaches the desired level of doneness. (For medium-rare, remove the lamb from the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 128°-130°F. The temperature will carry to between 135°-140°F as the meat rests. Approximately 10 minutes in the oven.)
7. Remove lamb from the oven. Transfer the meat to a cool plate and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest for 7-10 minutes.
8. Set the cooking pan aside. (The pan will be deglazed for use in the sauce.)
For the Thyme Pan Sauce1. While the lamb is resting, discard any excess oil from the cooking pan, and return to the stove over medium-high heat. Deglaze with the red wine, being sure to incorporate any browned bits. (If there are any truly burned, black bits in the pan, be sure to scrape these out and discard before deglazing, as they’ll make the sauce taste bitter.)
2. Add the stock to the pan and bring to a boil.
3. While the stock is heating, mix the Wondra flour with water to make a slurry, following package instructions. Gradually, add the slurry to the wine-stock liquid. Allow the liquid to boil for one minute, then reduce the heat to bring to a simmer.
4. Stir in the reserved garlic-thyme rub mixture and add the additional sprig of thyme. Allow the sauce to continue to simmer until it thickens to the consistency of a jus. (It should lightly coat the back of a spoon.)
5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve. (To add an extra-level of elegance to the sauce, pass it through a mesh strainer before serving.)
To serve1. Carve the lamb rack into individual chops.
2. Pour a couple of tablespoons of the sauce in the center of the plate.
3. Arrange cauliflower florets in a mound, just off-center to the sauce on the plate.
4. Prop 2 to 3 lamb chops (depending on their size) around the cauliflower.
5. Serve and enjoy!
Photo credit on all the lamb pics: Greg Hudson.