Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Everything's better with bacon mac-n-cheese

Several months ago, I attended a “Everything’s Better With Bacon” cooking class at Schnucks (a local grocery store); it included a bacon bloody mary, warm spinach salad with bacon, pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon with Dijon mustard cream sauce, bacon boursin mac-n-cheese and bacon chocolate ice cream. Yes, it was a glorious bacon-licious day! Well, I needed to share the recipe for the bacon mac-n-cheese with someone and I thought well, I might as well share it with everyone, since it really is the best mac-and-cheese.

Bacon Boursin Mac-n-Cheese 
  • 1lb macaroni
  • 1 qt milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 8 oz Gruyere, grated or shredded
  • 4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated or shredded
  • 4 oz Bousin cheese (I use garlic herb)
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ lb bacon, crispy crumbled
  • ¾ lb freshly sliced tomatoes (or diced)
  • 1 ½ cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Boil and drain macaroni
  • Heat (but don’t boil) milk in small saucepan. Melt 6 TBS butter in large pot and stir in flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with whisk. Add hot milk slowly, stirring with whisk and cook for 3-5 more minutes until thickened and smooth.
  • Take off heat and add Gruyere, cheddar, Boursin, 1 tbs salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in bacon and macaroni and pour into baking dish.
  • Slice tomatoes and arrange on top of macaroni. Melt remaining 2 TBS butter, combine with fresh bread crumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and lightly browned on top.
As far as wine pairing, I don't really a perfect pairing for you. If I recall I had an unoaked Chardonnay and it was ok. We're going to have it again this weekend so I'll update if we taste anything fantastic with it!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lush Pastitsio

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the wine part of the Terlato vertical pairing dinner and promised the recipe, so here it is. Now, it was my first time making Pastitsio and I looked at several recipes, but based mine mostly on this one. Some commented that I was very brave making a dish I’d never made for 14 people,and they are right - I was more than a bit nervous. However, I frequently make red sauce and lasagna and I knew lamb would go well with the Syrah, so I took a chance and am happy to say it turned out well!

Note: this is a bit of a labor/time intensive dish. Including grating the cheese (I was surprised that it took a really really long time to grate the cheese!) and simmering time, it was about 2 hours prepping this, not counting the baking time. I made it in the morning and let it sit in the fridge before transporting it to dinner and baking there.

Lush Pastitsio
  • 2 quarts 2% milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 tablespoons cup olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cup dry red wine
  • Two 16 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
  • One 16 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano (or 1/2 cup fresh chopped oregano, which is what I used)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 ½ pounds penne
  • 1 ¾ cups freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 large egg yolks
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk until bubbles appear around the edge. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour to the butter and whisk over moderately high heat until light golden, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick, about 8 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, ½ teaspoon of nutmeg and ½ tsp ground oregano. Press plastic wrap directly on the sauce and let cool.

2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and brown it in a large pan with 2 tbs olive oil. Transfer the lamb to a platter. (note, the lamb I had was 80/20 so I drained about half the fat once it was browned – the oil in the sauce will soak into the dried pasta and bump up the flavor)
3. Add the shallot to the pan and cook over moderate heat until it is softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, then the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is nearly evaporated. Add the lamb along with the tomatoes and their liquid, the tomato sauce, oregano and sugar. Season the lamb mixture with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat, about ½ hour.

4. Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well, blot dry with paper towels and let cool.
5. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray or butter a large baking dish (I used an aluminum roasting pan for 25 lbs and used Pam). Line the bottom with one half of the penne. Spread half of the white sauce on top, then cover with the lamb sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Top with the remaining penne. Stir the egg yolks into the remaining white sauce and spread it over the penne. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 40 minutes, or until the edges of the pan are golden and the sauce is bubbling. Let the Pastitsio stand for 20 minutes before cutting.

Here’s the before and after:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Terlato Pairing Dinner

Last weekend my wine club had a vertical pairing dinner party with 2004-2007 Terlato Family Vineyards Syrah. For the entree, we made a modified version of this Pastitsio (Greek lasagna) found on Food and Wine.  (my recipe will be posted tomorrow) Several side dishes, including Greek peppers, were served. (hopefully those who made it will reply with their recipes as well!)

Let’s talk about the wine for now. We got a winewoot deal on the 2004, 2006 & 2007 and bought the 2005 directly from the winery. The 2007 was the Block 9, but the rest were the estate vineyars. Mr. Lush and I agreed that the favorite wine by itself was the 2005, but it wasn’t our favorite with the Pastitsio- it actually paired better with the peppers. Our favorite(s) with the lamb were the 2004 and 2006 and the rest of the wine club agreed with the pairing. (I will note that I think the 2004 was at or just past it’s prime, so if I were to purchase any again, I’d focus on 2005 and younger.) The 2007 was my least favorite; it opened up a little bit by the end of the night, but if I had a bottle, I think I’d hold onto it for another year or two.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WE's 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations 2013

Like I needed to add another place to my bucket list... *Sigh*

  • Rioja, Spain 
  • Danube, Austria
  • North & South Forks of Long Island, New York
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Monterey County, California
  • Vale dos Vinhedos, Brazil
  • Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia
  • Douro Valley, Portugal
  • Puglia, Italy