Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Malbec Braised Short Ribs and Pureed Vegetables, Garlic Mashed Potatoes Pearl Mozzrella and Grape Tomatoes with Basil Dressing Paired with 2006 Benziger Family Winery North Coast Syrah

Brazed Short Ribs with Tomato Mozzarella Pesto Salad Truffle Mashed Potatoes-1

I want to make braised short ribs.  Once again I have been foiled by Chef Sue.  I am working on a Chianti braised short rib recipe and am about to give it a ride.  Just as I am about to fire up the range, Chef Sue announced her plan for braised short ribs with red wine and pureed vegetables.  Fortunately, I am a serious fan of braised short ribs, and just because we will have them again next week will not hurt my feelings.

My feelings for braised short ribs run deep.  Because they are cooked at a low temperature (225 degrees F) for a long time, the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender, the sauce reduces nicely, and the meat has plenty of time to take on the flavors in the braising liquid.  Honestly, it is difficult to do something wrong and even the most timid of budding chefs can prepare this with ease.  Add to this my mid-western heritage and the combination of garlic potatoes and garden fresh tomatoes with a basil dressing means I’m back to my meat and potato roots – but oh so much better than my childhood memories.

I should mention that this meal was in honor of our good friend gun-slinger Teji who left the next day for her assignment as the Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Prague.  It was a real pleasure for all of us to send Teji off in good form – and provide good reason for her to come back.

2006 Benziger Family Winery North Coast Syrah

I will be honest with you and tell you that the wine selection for this pairing was not only an attempt to choose the right wine, but with the crowd joining us for dinner I needed two bottles.  I descended the elevator to the Cavernous Corl Wine Vault to find a selection for which I had at least two bottles.  I had several choices and settled on the 2006 Benziger Family Winery North Coast Syrah.  Here are the tasting notes from the wine maker:

“Our 2006 North Coast Syrah boasts earthy aromas of tobacco and herbs. In the mouth, dark fruit flavors of ripe plum and black raspberry linger on the palate. A long finish leads way to hints of pepper and spice.”

I am completely onboard with the earthy aromas, but I sensed earth and mushrooms, not so much the tobacco.  Being a cigar smoker, you would think I could detect the aromas of tobacco…but I did not.  We definitely agreed on the plum, but we also picked up the hint of dark ripe cherries.  I agree with the notes on the finish – long with subtle notes of pepper and spice.  This wine is smooth with mild tannins and is a beautifully balanced fruit bomb.  At $11 per bottle it is an EXCEPTIONAL value and will make my list of favorite wines for exceptional flavor, a wonderful wine for pairing with food, and remarkable value.  This wine is only available from the winery.  You can order it at www.benziger.com.

Brazed Short Ribs with Tomato Mozzarella Pesto Salad Truffle Mashed Potatoes-2

The body of the braised short ribs and the Syrah were perfectly matched.  The acidity of the Syrah is moderate and fortunately the braised short ribs did not demand high acidity.  The plum and dark cherry flavors were a perfect compliment to the deep rich flavors in the meat and vegetable puree, and the complexity of the flavors in the food were equally matched by the layers of flavors on the menu.  This is a very nice pairing I highly endorse.

Brazed Short Ribs with Tomato Mozzarella Pesto Salad Truffle Mashed Potatoes


Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Pureed Vegetables

The recipe for the braised short ribs came from Epicurious.com.  Here is the link:  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Short-Ribs-with-Red-Wine-and-Pureed-Vegetables-235843?mbid=ipapp.  Of course, in the Corl kitchen, no recipe goes without some mucking about.  Here are a couple minor modifications made by Chef Sue:

  • The sage was replaced by the frawns of two fennel bulbs.
  • The chicken broth was replaced with equal parts wine and water – can’t go wrong with more wine!
  • Chef Sue substituted a Malbec for the recommended wine.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes


  • 10 potatoes
  • 10 cloves roasted garlic
  • ½ stick butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Really?  You can make mashed potatoes!  Boil the potatoes, mash, and combine the rest of the ingredients.  Enjoy the goodness of garlic!

Pearl Mozzarella and Grape Tomatoes with Basil Dressing


  • Equal amounts of grape tomatoes and pearl mozzarella sufficient to feed your crowd
  • 1 ½ cups basil leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • An imprecise amount of olive oil


  1. Combine the basil leaves and salt in a small food processor.
  2. Process the basil leaves on pulse while drizzling in olive oil.
  3. Continue to add olive oil until it is a bit “looser” than pesto.
  4. Poor dressing over tomatoes and mozzarella and toss to cover evenly.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.