All recipes paired with wine, Lamb

Perfect lamb chops – always

I have tried several different recipes and methods to prepare perfect lamb chops or rack of lamb – marinating it, searing it, baking it – and by far, this recipe is the closest to perfect in my book. Perfecting this dish was important for me, as I never touched lamb when I was young. Have you ever had overcooked, dried out, tasteless or stinky, fatty lamb chops? Then you know what I am talking about.

If you like your lamb chops as they are supposed to be: medium to medium rare, follow this recipe to the letter. It will reward you with super juicy, soft, great tasting  chops. I elevate the taste even more by adding Chimichuri sauce for serving. Divine!!!!


Perfect Lamb chops with chimichuri sauce
Perfect Lamb chops with chimichuri sauce

 Perfect lamb chops


1-2 racks of lamb
2 tablespoons Panko crumbs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

For Chimichuri sauce:
Handful of fresh parsley
Handful of cilantro
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
Salt & freshly grated pepper
Red pepper flakes (about ½ teaspoon – the amount is optional)
½ cup of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Clean lamb chops of excess fat, wash under running water, pat dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat your heavy iron skillet on top of the stove, high heat, until it reaches almost smoking point. Without using any oil, carefully sear rack of lamb in hot pan on each side (about 1-2 minute per side) and set aside.

Combine Panko crumbs with finely chopped garlic and rosemary and spread on your cutting board. This part is the best to work with your hands, so wash your hands, take off rings and generously spread Dijon mustard on rack of lamb,  both sides. While holding the rack by bone, dig the chops, already smeared with mustard, in the mixture of Panko, garlic and rosemary. Stick on more with your hand if it’s falling off.

Perfect Lamb Chops
Perfect Lamb Chops

Place rack of lamb into small sheet or baking dish, and put in the oven for exactly 20 minutes. Just as they are, no fat or water needed. During that time, prepare your favorite side dishes and Chimichuri sauce, if desired.

Place all the ingredients for Chimichuri sauce into your food processor and pulse until well combined. You can also chop the herbs and garlic by hand if you so choose, and then mix it with liquids.


When 20 minutes are up, take out the chops and let them rest on the cutting board for another 10 minutes.  Then cut individual chops in between the bones and serve. I love my chops over seared asparagus or oven roasted root vegetables and wedged potatoes. Don’t forget to sprinkle each chop with Chimichuri sauce. I hope you enjoy it!!!

Perfect lamb chops

Suggested wine pairing:

I loved my lamb chops with great Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva – it was big enough wine to Monsanto chianti classico1stand to the rich flavor of the chops, yet acidic enough not to conflict with Chimichuri Sauce. I guess your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, quality Bordeaux blend, Malbec or Tempranillo would go great with this dish.

If you are generous with Chinichuri sauce as I am, I would stick with European style reds as they are generally more acidic than Californian reds, and therefore more food friendly. Before I set off some oenophiles – yes, I am aware that this is  general statement and there are exceptions to the rule. But if you want to be safe, in this case stick with the old world reds. Can’t make mistake 🙂




All recipes paired with wine, Ground meat, Lamb, Summer Grilling

Shish kebab with Eggplant Hash and Tzatziki Sauce

Shish kebab with eggplant hash and Tzaziki sauceO.K., this may not be the most authentic Shish kebab recipe. I got inspired by a traditional Turkey dish, and tried to re-create the combination I experienced few years ago in Greece. I hope it’s not a sin to take the best from each cuisines, combine it together and make your own twist on it – as long as you love the result, what do you think?

During my research I found out that the secret of moist and tender shish kebab is to mix the ground meat with diced lamb-tail fat. I didn’t want to go that far – and used Crème Fraîche instead. It supported the rich flavors of lamb meat and was absolutely melting in our mouth!

Shish kebab with Eggplant Hash and Tzatziki Sauce

1 pound of ground lamb
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoon Crème Fraîche
4 large shallots – peeled, halved lengthwise, root ends trimmed but kept intact
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 roasted pepper (optional)

For eggplant hash:
1 small eggplant
1/2 finely chopped red onion
1 garlic clove diced
1 can of whole tomatoes
4 small bay leaves
4-5 whole allspice
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup of white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

For Tzatziki sauce:
1 Greek yogurt
3 scallions finely chopped
2/3 English cucumber – peeled, seeded and diced or grated (squeezed in hand for an excess liquid)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar
2 garlic cloves diced
dill or fresh oregano (optional) – mix together

Start with eggplant hash – it needs to cook through to get the right texture. Slice your eggplant into thick slices, skin attached. Spread slices over paper towel and season with salt. Let it sweat for few minutes, than pat dry with paper towel. Chop into similar size cubes.

In large heavy skillet heat the oil and stir in chopped onion on medium heat. Cook for a minute and add garlic and red pepper flakes, stir and let cook for few seconds (be careful, garlic can quickly turn brown and bitter). Bring up the heat and add all eggplant cubes. Season with salt and pepper and mix to coat all eggplant pieces with oil.

Add white wine and stir. Let wine almost evaporate on high heat and add whole tomatoes with a juice, crushing them carefully with your hand or spatula. Add bay leaves and allspice and stir into mixture. Turn down the heat, cover the pan and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft, on low heat. Finish with generous amount of chopped parsley.

In a medium bowl, gently mix the Crème Fraîche, seasoning, garlic, sliced roasted pepper and parsley into the ground lamb. Roll the mixture into similar size balls. Place all your meatballs on metal skewers and the onions together on separate one.

(I have done the mistake to mix it together – the meat took only few minutes to grill, and I ended up with undone onions, so trust me on this one.) Light a grill and let meatballs sit in room temperature for a few minutes, so the flavors can combine.

Grill kebabs over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on the outside. depends on the size of your balls – but it only took about 3 minutes on each side and they were done. You don’t want to dry them through. Transfer to plates, and serve with eggplant hash and dipping Tzatziki sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Wine pairing suggestions:
I was just tasting a new Spanish red from Priorat when making this dish. It worked great with the rich taste of the lamb and spicy eggplant hash. Priorat wines are usually priced over $20.00 a bottle, but this one could be just a pleasant exception to the rule.

Bodegas La Cartuja is a modern, sexy blend of Garnacha, Mazuelo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah that just received 90 points from R. Parker. It’s my pleasure to recommend it with this week’s dish.

All recipes paired with wine, Ground meat, Lamb

Not so Greek Musaka

This meal is not so easy to arrange nicely (sorry for the pic) but trust me, super delicious to eat!
Yeah, my apology to Greek’s traditionalists, I dare twisted the famous Greek meal. I know that the original musaka is layered with a thin slices of eggplant like lasagna. Not that it wasn’t good enough for me, I just wanted to try something different.

I have to say, it came out so good, we couldn’t get enough of it! Super comfy food especially now, in this cold and snowy weather. If lamb meat has too strong a flavor for you, you can mix it half and half with beef. I had 100% lamb and it was divine!

Twisted Musaka

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground lamb
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 medium size eggplant chopped into little cubes
3 tbs dry oregano
1 cup red wine
1 tbs Cinnamon
salt and pepper
Fresh thyme – few sprigs
1 large can of crushed tomatoes in puree
1/2 lb small shape pasta (your choice)
olive oil

Spread chopped eggplant onto baking sheet, covered with paper towel, season with salt and let sweat for 10-15 minutes. Pat dry with another paper towel.

In the large heavy bottom pot heat olive oil and saute onions until soft, for few minutes. Add all the meat and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, brown the meat until cooked. Add finely chopped garlic and spices.

Pour in red wine, mix together and let cook for a minute. Add tomatoes (break them up in your hand) and cubes of eggplant. Let mixture cook, uncovered, for at least one hour or until reduced (to about half) and thickened.

In the meantime bring water to boil in the large pot, season with salt and cook about pasta to “al dente”. Drain, add a table spoon of olive oil and mix together. Set aside.

When the sauce is cooked, reserve 1 cup of meaty sauce on the side. Pour pasta into the sauce and mix together so the hot sauce coat the pasta well.

Pour the pasta mixture in a prepared large baking dish. No need to grease it first.

For a cheesy cover:
1 table spoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup of milk
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup of Greek yoghurt
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

Cook flour on melted butter and mix, creating the roux. Pour in milk and mix until thick, making Béchamel sauce. Add almost all the Parmesan cheese, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix and let cool. Add 2 whole eggs to warm (not hot) sauce and reserved cup of meaty sauce. Mix in Greek yoghurt. Stir and pour all over the meaty sauce with pasta in the baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour in oven. Serve in the baking dish and let all your guests dig in right away and help themselves. You don’t want to miss that amazing aroma when you first cut into the cheese crust and it opens the layers of delicious, cooked lamb mixture with wine and all the spices.

As I said at the beginning, this dish isn’t easy to arrange for photo shoot. But trust me, you will be reaching for a second serving!
It makes my mouth watering just writing about it. I wish somebody invented a pictures on web with aroma attached.

Wine suggestion:
You can open any big red that you were longing to drink for a very long time. It’s a comfort food time! Spicy Malbec, delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, Brunello, Barolo, GSM – many choices here. I have paired this dish with one of the best Syrah based wines I ever tasted – Finca Sandoval from Manchuela, Spain. The pairing with rich flavors of lamb and spices of this dish was out of this world!




All recipes paired with wine, Lamb

Pistachio crusted rack of lamb

I can’t take credit for this recipe, it was sent to me by one of our fellow passionate wine and food lovers, Ken K. He did an incredible job in documenting the whole process of preparation! It sounds and look really good, I have yet to try it.I thought this would be an excellent recipe for the last week of 2010. The entertaining comments are also Ken’s work, so I left it as it was sent to me. Enjoy!

Pistachio crusted rack of lambIngredients:
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup dried currants
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large rack of lamb (2 1/4 pounds), well trimmed
1/4 cup chopped natural unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Boil pomegranate juice, currants, and garlic in medium skillet until liquid is syrupy and mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to mini processor. Add butter, cinnamon, and cumin and blend until coarse puree forms. Place processor bowl in freezer 10 minutes to firm butter slightly.

Line small rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place lamb, bone side down, on sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Spread pomegranate butter over; sprinkle pistachios and panko over, pressing to adhere.

Roast rack of lamb until instant-read thermometer inserted into side registers 135°F for medium-rare, about 30 minutes. Transfer to work surface and let rest 10 minutes. Cut lamb between bones. Drizzle with any juices from foil.

Makes 4 servings (sorry – 1 rack for myself = 2.5 to 3 people MAXXXX)

Ready to do some reducing…………………………….
The spatula is waiting….I am chopping and trimming the lamb.


Sauce is chilled, pistachio’s chopped, lamb salt and peppered………..

The sauce is on:

Moving right along……………pistachio’s and panko on:

Baked – ready for a 10 minute rest………………………..

And time to eat!!

Wine pairing suggestion:
OK, finally a recipe for a big, fruity red! I would suggest Châteauneuf-du-Pape (the nice one is made by Chateau La Nerthe or Eric Texier) or a cheaper version Cotes du Rhone Domaine de la Solitude Cotes du Rhone.

These wines have enough body and rich fruitiness to pair well with the fruit of the marinade, rich flavors of lamb and the spices. Any old vines Garnacha from Spain would work great too! For example Atteca, Garnacha de Fuego or Juan Gil Monastrel from Jumilla.

Rich Australian Shiraz or red blend would be an excellent choice, such as Peter Lehmann’s Clancy or his Shiraz. This recipe is the wine pairing ultimate heaven! Italian Brunello, fruity Zinfandel, Californian Syrah – all the rich, big wines that I feel there is never the right time, would work with this impressive dish! Your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon? Absolutely! Let me know what did you pair it with!!!


All recipes paired with wine, Ground meat, Lamb, Summer Grilling

Lamb Burgers with Relish Mayo

Lamb Burgers with Relish Mayo

Happy Memorial Day – it’s time to party! As many of us will be heating grills this Sunday, why not try your own, homemade burger for change? This lamb burger is super tasty, juicy and tender. Expecting company and not sure if people care for lamb? Make just few as an option to regular beef burgers – and see what will be gone first!

Lamb burgers with a relish mayo

3 lb. ground lamb (I bought a lamb stew meat and had it grounded)
1 bag of baby spinach (optional)
3 cloves of garlic
½ cup of fresh chopped mint
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
3 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon Worchester sauce
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons of shish kabob seasoning (I used Sadaf)
Salt and pepper as needed (caution, the seasoning already contains salt)

For mayo:
1 cup of mayonnaise
3 round tablespoons of hot pepper relish
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint

Take  the meat out of the fridge and let it rest, bringing it to room temperature. In the meantime, sauté washed spinach in large frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, about 3 minutes, until soft. Season with salt and 1 sliced clove of garlic. Drain any possible excess liquid. Set aside and let cool.

Add all the seasoning, onion, pressed garlic and mint to your ground meat and mix with your hands thoroughly, until evenly combined. Add cold spinach to the meat and work it through with your hands.Form hamburger patties and grill about 3 minutes on each side (cooking time depends on the thickness of your patties).

For your super simple, but very delicious relish-mayo sauce, mix mayonnaise with pepper relish (I like the Uncle Maynard’s hot pepper relish) – taste and add more, if desired. Add pressed garlic and a tablespoon of chopped mint. Serve these juicy burgers with the relish-mayo and any sides you like, on the bun.

For a low carb version try this twist: Instead of a bun, chop all kinds of veggies you have in the fridge, 1 red onion and mix it in grill proved baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, hot seasoning salt and freshly ground pepper and roast it on the grill, while grilling burgers.

Wine pairing suggestions:
I have paired this lamb burgers with an excellent Argentinian Malbec from Enrique Foster called Ique. If you can’t find this bargain in the wine store, grab another Malbec of your choice. But make sure you mention this name to the store owner – he might want to carry it. It’s really super value!

The other wine I paired my burgers with was Edna Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Another great quality wine for a very reasonable price.