Friday, January 13, 2012

Roast Lamb with Morels: Wine Pairing Dinner with Shafer Relentless Syrah

Bunker and I went to Napa last year, and we fell in love with the refreshing aura that surrounds the whole area. Napa is not just a destination, not just a place to visit and check off your list. Napa is a place where the world seems to calm down and you can breath more easily, feel more deeply and fully let go and relax. We went during the week in early March, so it was not very crowded and a bit chilly. It was exceedingly peaceful and seemingly remote, but at the same time cushy, engaging and accommodating. One moment we were alone overlooking rolling hills of vineyards, the next we were walking through the Oxbow market mingling with locals and tourists, and by the end of the day we were sitting by a roaring fire on the patio of a scrumptious restaurant. So, we love Napa, and we have decided to make it a yearly trip, always in March, always together, and always ready to relax and enjoy.

On Shafer property.

Shafer Vineyards

On our first full day in Napa last year we visited Shafer Vineyards. Shafer is a phenomenal wine. We had it for the first time with my parents two months before our trip, and realized we just had to visit the vineyard and learn more about the wine. If you go to Napa, this is a must. It is a private tasting with ten people and the head wine maker. The building is beautiful and the view of the property from your seat at the table will take your breath away. The feeling of tasting the wine while overlooking the vineyard where the grapes are grown and talking to the person who tends the grapes, perfectly picks them and combines them to create such deeply satisfying wine is an irreplaceable memory. We visited Shafer on a rather chilly and rainy morning. At first I was disappointed in the weather, but that soon turned to appreciation when we walked through the door and were greeted by a crackling fire in the tasting room, the whole ambiance was that of a warm hug. They had a Yellow lab and a Golden Retriever in the positions of head greeters and then they changed positions to feet warmers when we all sat at the table for the wine tasting. From the fire, to the puppies, to the view and the wine itself, this place was after my heart. We loved the wine and the experience so much that we went home and got our new puppy and named her Shafer. We already have our tasting for this March booked!

Tasting Room at Shafer.

Tasting room at Shafer.

Head Greeter 1. 

Head Greeter 2. 

Anyways, we came home with some bottles of Shafer Relentless, their Syrah. I have never thought too much about wine pairing with food. I almost always stick with my Chardonnay, regardless of what I am eating. After our trip to Napa I began to appreciate not only the balance of flavor that you experience when you pair food and wine correctly, but also the new flavors that emerge and enhance the meal. This Roasted Lamb is a bit of work, but the taste is phenomenal, and when paired with a Syrah, especially Shafer, the deep flavors come to life and make for a truly special meal.

Our Shafer!

Our Shafer!

This recipe is from Tyler Florence from Food and Wine.
We paired this with Ricotta Gnocchi (here is the recipe on A Thyme to Eat) also from Tyler Florence and from Food and Wine.

Shafer Vineyards

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One 5 pound butterflied leg of lamb
Pinches of Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
3 large carrots, sliced to 1/2 slices
4 celery ribs, sliced to 1/2 slices
2 large onions, coarsely chopped (I used yellow onions)
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cups of dry red wine
1 ounce of dried morels
2 tablespoon of tomato paste
3 cups of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the oil in a heavy and large skillet.
4. Add the lamb to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat. Brown on all sides, this should take about 12 minutes.
5. Transfer the lamb to a roasting pan.
6. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the skillet and cook over moderate heat. Stir occasionally and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
7. Add one cup of the wine and boil until nearly evaporated. Stir and scrape all of the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. These brown bits are where all of the yummy flavors are concentrated.
8. Add this wine mixture into the roasting pan with the lamb.
9. Roast the lamb for about 40 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 125 degrees.
10. While the lamb cooks, prepare the morels by covering them with hot water and leave them to soak until softened, about 30 minutes.
11. Once the morels are softened, remove from the water and pat dry. Then slice them thickly.
12. After the lamb is finished cooking, transfer it from the roasting pan and place it onto a heavy carving board.
13. Place the roasting pan on the stove top over moderately high heat.
14. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook until the sauce begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
15. Add the remaining cup of wine and bring the mixture to a boil.
16. Immediately stir in the chicken stock to the boiling mixture.
17. Strain the mixture from the roasting pan into a saucepan.
18. Heat the saucepan to boiling, and let boil until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, this should take about 20 minutes.
19. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
20. In a medium skillet over moderately high heat, melt the butter and add the sliced morels, minced shallot and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the shallot is softened.
21. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper if needed.
22. Slice the lamb into thin slices and place on individual plates and pour the sauce on top.
23. Enjoy with Ricotta Gnocchi, Shafer Hillside Select, and people you love!

One of my favorites of both the pups from when we first got Shafer. 

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