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SEARED DUCK BREASTS WITH PORT AND CHERRY SAUCE

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Seared Duck Breasts with Port and Sherry Sauce

Cooking duck breasts slowly, skin side down, helps eliminate almost every speck of fat. After about 20 minutes, the skin will be crisp and the flesh as rosy and tender as a fine steak. A silky port and cherry sauce makes this a restaurant-caliber dish. Serve with wild rice and your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Serves 4

Ingredients
Seasoning Rub:
8 juniper berries
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 boneless duck breasts, about 1⁄2 pound (250 g) each

Sauce:
1 cup (250 ml) Zinfandel Port or Ruby Port
1 shallot, minced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 strip orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
24 cherries, pitted and halved
1⁄2 cup (125 ml) strong chicken broth, reduced from 1 cup (250 ml)
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions
Make the seasoning rub: Put the juniper berries, thyme, salt, and peppercorns in a mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Duck breasts vary tremendously in size; scale up the spice rub if the breasts you buy are considerably larger.

Slash the skin of each breast in a crosshatch pattern, stopping short of the flesh. (The slashes help render the fat.) Sprinkle the seasoning rub evenly onto both sides of each breast. Put the breasts on a flat rack and set the rack inside a tray. Refrigerate uncovered for 24 to 36 hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Choose a heavy frying pan large enough to accommodate all the duck breasts comfortably. (If necessary to avoid crowding, use two frying pans.) Put the breasts, skin side down, in the unheated frying pan and set over medium-low heat. Cook until the skin is well browned and crisp, about 15 minutes, frequently pouring off the fat until the skin no longer renders much. (Reserve the fat for frying potatoes, if you like.)

Turn the duck breasts and continue cooking flesh side down, turning the breasts with tongs to sear all the exposed flesh, until the internal temperature registers 125°F (52°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the breasts to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

While the duck cooks, make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the port, shallot, thyme, orange zest, vinegar, and half of the cherries. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer until reduced to 3∕4 cup (180 ml). Add the broth and sugar and simmer until the liquid has again reduced to 3∕4 cup (180 ml). Remove from the heat and, with tongs, lift out the thyme sprigs and orange zest and discard.

Puree the sauce in a blender. Set a very fine-mesh sieve over the saucepan and pass the sauce through the sieve, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula. Return to medium heat, season with salt and pepper, and simmer until reduced to 1∕2 cup (125 ml). Stir in the remaining cherries and remove from the heat. Add the butter and swirl the saucepan until the butter melts.

Slice the duck on the diagonal. Spoon some of the sauce on each of four dinner plates, dividing it evenly. Top with the sliced duck. Serve immediately.

Suggested Pairings:

Baily Winery 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – Offers warm, rich tones with subtle, herbaceous qualities and a hint of mint.

Leoness Cellars 2016 Cellar Selection Cabernet Sauvignon – Bursting with aromas of black currant, blackberry and boysenberry fruit layered with subtle notes of vanilla, black licorice and sweet oak.

Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery – Van Roekel Estate 2014 Merlot – Brings cherry, clove and cinnamon on the nose, with subtle hints of orange blossom.

Thornton Winery 2014 Merlot – Cherry, black berry currant and blueberry notes along with a fruit-driven entry that is complemented by oak barrels from France, Eastern Europe and North America.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California


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GRASS-FED BURGER WITH AVOCADO AND CHIPOTLE MAYONNAISE

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Buttery avocados make any sandwich better, and they put this burger over the top. Grass-fed beef can be lean, but the sliced avocado and spicy chipotle mayonnaise ensure that this burger is a luscious, moist, flavor-packed experience. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Burgers:

  • 1 1⁄2 pounds (750 g) grass-fed ground beef chuck
  • Scant 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Chipotle Mayonnaise

  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) mayonnaise, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, if using store-bought mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated with a rasp grater or very finely minced
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons very finely minced chipotle chile in adobo, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • 1 ripe but firm small avocado
  • 1⁄2 lime
  • About 1⁄2 cup (20 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 large, soft lettuce leaves


Directions:

Make the burgers: Put the beef in a bowl and add the salt, garlic powder, and several grinds of black pepper. Mix quickly with your hands; try not to overwork the mixture. Divide into four equal portions, each 6 ounces (185 g), and shape into balls. Flatten each ball into a round patty about 3∕4 inch (2 cm) thick. Make the patties a little thinner in the center. They shrink a bit when cooked, and this step ensures they will be of even thickness after cooking. Place them on a tray and refrigerate.

Make the mayonnaise: Put the mayonnaise in a small bowl. If it is store-bought, whisk in the olive oil to improve the flavor. Whisk in the garlic and chile. Taste and add more chile if you like. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the broiler. Heat a large cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the patties and fry until nicely browned and done to your taste, flipping them with a spatula two or three times and adjusting the heat to keep them from getting too crusty on either side. For medium doneness, the total cooking time will be about 10 minutes.

Set the burgers aside on a platter to rest for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the buns, cut side up, under the broiler. Halve, pit, and peel the avocado and slice thinly.

Spread chipotle mayonnaise on both halves of the toasted buns. Top the bottom half of each bun with a burger. Divide the avocado slices evenly among the burgers. Sprinkle the avocado lightly with salt and a squeeze of lime. Top with a tuft of cilantro leaves, then with a lettuce leaf, and finally the top half of the bun. Cut in half with a serrated knife and serve immediately.

Suggested Pairings:

Baily Winery ~ 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – It offers warm, rich tones with subtle, herbaceous qualities and a hint of mint.
Miramonte Winery ~ 2015 Estate Syrah – Dusty boysenberry, wild cherry, fresh violet, sweet french oak, spiced mocha and a long graceful finish.
Oak Mountain Winery ~ 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – Bold fruit flavors and subtle nuances of toffee, espresso and dark chocolate
Wilson Creek Winery ~ 2015 Family Reserve Syrah -Cedar and spice are prominent in the aroma of the wine whereas cherry and sour plums are revealed on the palate.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California.

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Wine Country Recipe: Summer Cobb Salad with Easy Ranch Dressing

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Summer Cobb Salad with Simple Ranch Dressing

Recipe courtesy of Cougar Winery’s new Sangio’s Italian Delicheck out their menu here!

Pairs perfectly with Cougar Winery’s Montes Blush

Serves 1-2 people | Prep time: 20 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

2 large handfuls of spring mix
3 strips of bacon
3 oz pre-cooked turkey breast
1 hard boiled egg
1 handful of cherry tomatoes
3 oz blue cheese
3 oz kalamata olives
3 oz ranch dressing

Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium heat until crisp on both sides. Remove from skillet and lay out on paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Allow the bacon to cool. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Place the spring mix in a large salad bowl.

Compose the salad. Arrange the turkey, bacon, tomato, and sliced hard boiled egg decoratively over the greens and garnish the salad with the kalamata olives and the blue cheese.

Serve ranch dressing separately or toss in with the salad. Enjoy with a glass of Cougar Vineyard & Winery Sangio Rosso.

Easy Ranch Dressing

Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients (Serves 8)

  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives
  • 1 cup (real) mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • buttermilk (as needed to desired consistency)

Optional Ingredients

  • white vinegar (to taste)
  • Worcestershire sauce, (to taste)
  • fresh dill (to taste)
  • cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • paprika (to taste)
  • fresh oregano (to taste)
  • Tabasco (to taste)

Preparation Instructions

Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about an 1/8 to ¼ teaspoons of salt on it and mash it into a paste with a fork. Chop the parsley, chives and any of the optional herbs very finely and add to the garlic.

In a bowl or a blender, combine all ingredients, adding other optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving; thin with milk or buttermilk if desired.

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Wine Country Recipe: Grilled Salmon with Easy Lemon-Dill Sauce and Asparagus

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Easy Lemon-Dill Sauce and Asparagus

Recipe Courtesy of Wilson Creek Winery

Perfect for warm summer nights, this weekday meal is simple, quick and balanced. It has a lightness and lemony tang that refreshes and doesn’t weigh down the palate.

Pair this dish with…

While Wilson Creek pairs this with their Family Reserve Syrah, if you’re looking for a white – try a Sauvignon Blanc! Top choices include Callaway’s 2010 Special Selection Sauvignon Blanc or Falkner’s 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs. fresh wild salmon fillets or steaks
1 lb. fresh asparagus
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons of fresh dill
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon

Directions:

Prepare a charcoal or gas-fired grill. If using a charcoal grill, group hot coals on one side of the grill base. Chop dill.  Remove woody end of asparagus by cutting off last inch of the stalk or snapping at the base. Season salmon generously on both sides with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place asparagus onto a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and juice from half the lemon, and turn with tongs to coat evenly. Place salmon directly over hot coals or on lowest shelf of charcoal grill for 2 minutes to sear, then move to a higher shelf (gas grill) or across from the coals (charcoal grill). Add asparagus with salmon on the grill and cook covered for about 10 minutes (five minutes on each side, depending on thickness of salmon.) For best results, do not cook past medium.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add sour cream, dill, paprika, salt & pepper and juice from 1/2 lemon and mix thoroughly. After salmon and asparagus have been removed from the grill and cooled slightly, pour lemon-dill sauce over salmon as well as over asparagus if desired, and garnish with fresh lemon and dill sprigs.

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Wine Country Recipe: BBQ Burgers from Ponte Winery

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Simple Grilled Burgers with Ponte’s Secret Sauce

Ponte Family Estate is well-loved for their delicious al fresco restaurant so we asked them for a great grill recipe for summer. Here’s an interesting twist on an American classic – the cheeseburger.  And the best part about this burger recipe is it’s simplicity. This is an easy dish to prep and grill with the family for 4th of July weekend.  Pair with a light white wine – and sparkling lemonade for the kids!

Make the burgers using classic ingredients:

  • Ground beef (medium) or turkey patties (well-done)
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Pickles
  • Cheddar cheese (1-2 slices)
  • A bun, lightly grilled
  • Special Sauce (see below)

 

Measure the following ingredients by taste to make the special sauce:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Mild curry spice
  • Dash of salt

 

*Pair with Ponte Winery’s Isabel 2010, a light and delicate summer white.

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