Friday, June 3, 2011

Lamb Spinach Ricotta Ravioli in a White Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce Paired with 2009 14 Hands Washington State Chardonnay

2009 14 Hands Chardonnay paired with Lamb and Ricotta Ravioli-1

I’m afraid the description of this pairing will not follow the normal form.  First, the pairing was supposed to be with a 2009 Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay – but Chef Sue and I drank it while preparing the meal – oops.  Second, I don’t have a recipe – this meal (and pairing) started as an idea and was a “cook on the fly” type experience sticking within the broad idea for the meal.  The dish is not difficult, so an idea was sufficient.  This is a common experience for our weekends at our secret Southern Maryland waterfront lair – no rules, just ideas.

Although I will not be providing a recipe, this was not that complicated with the exception of all the home made ingredients which include ricotta, lamb sausage, and the pasta.  If you are not prepared to whip up those parts in your kitchen, make a substitution from the grocery store and butcher – it won’t hurt my feelings.  Between my description and the photographs, I am confident you can recreate this wonderful dish.

In the last year, Chef Sue has tilted over the edge and decided that we should be making our own cheese.  Being a Homer Simpson-like fan of cheese, I don’t complain.  And because this is Chef Sue’s little running science project, all I have to do is sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labor.  Not a bad deal.  This dish started with Chef Sue making fresh ricotta.  Yum.  There is a world of difference between home made ricotta and the stuff that comes in the plastic tub.  Added to this cheesy goodness is some garlic sautéed spinach and some freshly ground lamb combined with some fennel and ground mushrooms to form the loose lamb sausage.

Making Ricotta

Lamb Sausage

Next comes the pasta for creating the ravioli – just follow the pictures – easy stuff.  Once the pasta is ready, stuff it with the spinach-ricotta-lamb sausage mixture, seal it with an egg wash, cut to shape and it is ready for the swimming pool.

Making Pasta

Making Pasta-1

Making Pasta-2

Lamb and Ricotta Ravioli-5

Lamb and Ricotta Ravioli-6

Finally, Chef Sue topped the cooked ravioli in a white wine mushroom cream sauce.  We used dried mushrooms, so the soaking water was a key ingredient in the sauce.  Plate, garnish (parsley and shaved parmesan), and enjoy.

Dried Mushrooms

Mushrooms Soaking

The flavors in this dish are the ones that make you smile involuntarily.  Earthy mushroom, creamy smoothness from the sauce and the fresh ricotta, a little gaminess from the lamb and a touch of bitter from the spinach and garlic.  A other-worldly mixture and balance of flavors.  Add a touch of truffle oil or truffle salt to achieve interplanetary travel.

2009 14 Hands Chardonnay paired with Lamb and Ricotta Ravioli-3

I have to be honest and tell you that it has been over a month since we prepared this meal, and I don’t recall the specific flavors of the wine (maybe the fault of that first bottle of Cakebread).  But I am confident in saying the wine was a delight and the pairing a real treat.  Lacking a crystal clear memory, here are a few notes from the people at 14 hands:

“14 Hands Chardonnay offers bright aromas of apples and pears with a touch of caramel and spice. Elegant fruit flavors give way to hints of butter and coconut, ending with a juicy finish. Balanced and approachable, this wine can stand alone as an aperitif or partners well with buttered fish, grilled pork or pasta with cream sauce.”

Sounds about right to me – and pasta with cream sauce – YES!  The fruit and buttery finish I hazily recall as prominent and key to working well with the ravioli and cream sauce.  At $12 a bottle, this wine definitely falls into the category of excellent value.

2009 14 Hands Washington State Chardonnay

My apologies for the less than precise rendering of this pairing, but every once in a while it is good to use your imagination.  Maybe one of these days I will post a pairing with nothing but photos and let you figure it out – now there is a challenge!

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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