The recent Battle of the Chefs event at the CIA saw competition between two of Napa Valley’s best chefs. Though both “contestants” walked away with a winning dish in the final judgment, I walked away reminded how easily and intuitively wine country chefs work with wine. And I mean this in both senses of the word, both by integrating wine into the dishes themselves and (perhaps most importantly)by preparing dishes that are transformed, highlighted and benefit from a glass (or 4) of wine.
The following recipe from Micheal Chiarello represents a nearly perfect pairing with the elegant style of cabernet sauvignon produced at Meteor Vineyard.
Michael Chiarello for Battle of the Chefs
Grilled Lamb Loin, cabernet potato gnocchi, mustard greens, cabernet smoke and lamb jus
1 boneless lamb loin (reserve bones and trimmed meat for sauce)
1 quart mustard greens (washed and trimmed)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 pints cabernet potato gnocchi
1 pint cabernet wine
1 pint veal stock (reduced by half)
Cabernet vines for burning
Poly Science smoking gun
Small bundle thyme
1 bay leaf
Grey salt and freshly ground black pepper
Start by making sure your grill is very hot. While the grill is heating roast off your bones and any meat from trimming the lamb loin, then deglaze this pan with cabarnet wine. Add your thyme and bay leaf and reduce the wine till almost all the liquid has been cooked off and the pan is almost dry. Add your veal stock and cook until the sauce has a nice consistency and enough lamb flavor in it. Strain through a very fine mesh colander. Rub your lamb loin with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Place on a hot part of the grill, watch out for flair ups that may burn the lamb, and let cook 1 minute before turning 90 degrees to create a crossed marking on the grill. Cook 1 minute more and flip the lamb over and repeat these steps on the other side. After the lamb has cooked for 4-5 minutes pull it off the grill and let it rest for 3 minutes. While the lamb is resting drop your potato gnocchi into boiling salted water until hot all the way through. Add some EVOO to a medium sized hot sauté pan, add garlic and cook until the garlic is lightly golden but not burned, add the mustard greens and season with salt and pepper. The greens should start to sweat , if they are too hot and begin to caramelize add a teaspoon of your hot water to the pan to help them steam. Once your greens and gnocchi are cooked you can slice your lamb, against the grain and in even sized slices. On one side of the plate arrange your gnocchi in a circle and on the other side place your sliced lamb. Place your mustard greens amongst the gnocchi and spread them artfully in the center of the plate as well. Spoon some of your lamb jus around the lamb and the gnocchi. Load the smoking gun with cabernet vines, light them and turn the smoker on, place a cabernet glass over the lamb and begin to pump smoke under the glass and place it down quickly to trap the smoke inside the glass.