Buffalo was once considered an exotic protein, but has become much more available in the last ten years. 7.5 million pounds of Buffalo meat is consumed annually in the US. Many local gourmet grocery stores now carry various cuts of buffalo in their inventory. If you cannot find buffalo at your local purveyor, you can easily order it online. I like to use #D’Artagnan. The product is shipped frozen or fresh and arrives on ice within a day, depending on order date.
Buffalo has gained in popularity due to fact that it has a rich flavor similar to beef, but has reduced fat and cholesterol. It has roughly 80% less fat than beef and 22% less cholesterol in the same serving size. When cooking Buffalo, it is important not to over-cook it. Without the large amount of intramuscular fat, the meat can dry out fast and goes from beautiful to dull with even slight over-cooking. So, make sure you keep the meat medium-rare. I also like to marinate Buffalo steaks, which I normally do not do with Beef.
One of the things I love about Buffalo is that it lends itself to a number of wine pairing possibilities. While it has the richness to stand up to deep reds, it can also pair beautifully with less tannic red wines. I love to pair classic varietals, like Merlot and Cabernet Franc with it.
Merlot has a bright fruit character that seems to lift the richness of the Buffalo. The right Merlot will offer a balanced acidity that helps cleanse the palate. This creates a sensation that stimulates the appetite and opens the taste receptors.
A varietal that is even better with Buffalo is a well made Cabernet Franc. This wine has a beautiful herb perfume with spice and darker red fruit undertones. With the right aging, this wine is elegant and silky on the finish. The flavors play perfectly with the finesse of the steak. I also love our Smith Wooton Mélange with Buffalo. As a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, it brings the best of both worlds to the party.
We cook and serve Buffalo many different ways here at the CROZE Kitchen. Hanger steak has become a favorite, but we also braise Buffalo short ribs, and sear Buffalo tenderloin. I highly recommend you add this flavorful and versatile protein to your arsenal and have a blast researching wines that pair perfectly with your creations!
Swordfish in a fresh tomato sauce is a great dish when you can find extremely fresh, high quality swordfish. The bright acidity of the tomato highlights the rich flavors of the swordfish. This is a dish that surprises many people as you do not generally think of fish cooked with a “red” sauce. However the combination is fantastic.
Start by selecting a great piece of swordfish. The flesh should be firm and the steak should smell like sea water. I like to get a steak that is at least 1 inch thick. Cut the skin away from the flesh and dice the fish into 3/4inch cubes. Toss the cubes in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium high heat in a non stick skillet until just barely cooked through. Remove the fish from the pan and place on a plate to rest.
Add you pasta (use what ever shape of pasta you like) to a large pot of salted water that is boiling and give it a stir. While your pasta is cooking you can easily prepare the Pomodoro sauce. In a non-reactive saute pan, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and add finely diced onion. Saute the onion over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes. Once the onion is soft, add fresh chopped garlic, salt pepper and a littler crushed red pepper flakes. At this point I like to add a ladle full of the starchy pasta water. Once that reduces, add crushed fresh plum tomatoes (I peel the tomatoes prior to use and crush them by hand. You can peel the tomatoes by scoring the top and dropping them into boiling water for a few seconds. Remove them from the boiling water and drop them in an ice water bath) Of course you can use high quality canned tomatoes if it is not tomato season.
Re-season the sauce and toss in a little fresh basil. Add the cubes of swordfish and bring the sauce up to temperature over medium heat. Drain your pasta when it is still al dente and add it to the sauce. Cook the pasta and sauce together for 2-3 minutes to bring the dish together. Serve in a deep bowl and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve the dish with a white wine that has generous acidity.
I like to pair this with our Croze Viognier, as the bright acidity on the finish really compliments the dish.
With the holiday season in full swing, it is time to start thinking about three of my favorite things: food, family, & wine (not necessarily in the correct priority order). Over the years I have read so many opinions on serving wine with holiday meals and they generally make me laugh. Some people think you should serve less valued wines, some recommend top shelf, others swear by specific regions or varietals. I tend to approach the holidays like any special time and serve wines that, quite frankly, I love to drink. I do not believe this is a time to go out of your comfort zone. Choose wines that you love and share them with family and friends. “Wine people” tend to over-complicate and overthink special occasions.
As a winemaker, I love to showcase our CROZE Viognier and Smith Wooton Cabernet Franc with the traditional holiday meals. I believe that these wines pair well with the traditional fare, but more importantly, I love to drink and share them with family and friends. I typically host Thanksgiving and prepare most of the classic dishes associated with the holiday. However, we do add Oysters and Dungeness Crab to the line-up as every good Californian should.
As a varietal, Viognier is a great holiday wine. It bridges the gap between high acidity white wines and rich, heavy wines like Chardonnay. It has a richness in flavor and aroma, yet still finishes with great acidity.
Likewise, Cabernet Franc is a very versatile red wine. A well made, balanced Cabernet Franc can be a great match to roast poultry as well as rib roast. It has a beautiful elegance and finesse that compliments a wide range of foods. There is just enough tannin to take on beef yet enough elegance and acidity to compliment poultry.
The only real rule of the holiday table is that there has to be wine on it and people you love around it! Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Croze and Smith Wooton Wines.
At the winery we are always looking for new dishes to pair with our wines. Actually, one of the very best aspects of our profession is sharing great recipes and wine. It is hard to find a fine wine lover who is not also a self proclaimed “foodie.” Recently we paired our 2013 Croze Chardonnay with a poached lobster and saffron cream. It was an amazing pairing. The richness of both the lobster and cream highlighted the full bodied chardonnay. Yet the crisp acid on the finish of the wine cut the richness of the food and left your palate craving more. So here is our recipe for Lobster with Saffron Cream:
We poached a 2.5 lb lobster in salted water and then chilled it in an ice bath. Save a half cup of the lobster liquid.
To make the cream: chop a shallot and a garlic clove. Place them in a sauce pan with a tbs of olive oil and saute over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and white pepper if you have it. Toss in a few sprigs of thyme and let it wilt. Then add a good pinch of saffron and let it heat gently. Add 2 tbl of white wine and a 1/2 cup of the lobster stock. Reduce this over medium heat until there is just a couple tablespoons of liquid left. Strain the mixture and return to the sauce pan. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and let it slowly heat and reduce until sauce consistency. Meanwhile gently warm the lobster meat in saute pan with melted butter.
We are certainly spoiled here in Northern California with the bounty of produce and fresh herbs. Most of us grow culinary herbs as shrubs in our yards. It makes it so easy to craft excellent dishes that reflect the seasons. I have always felt that one of the biggest improvements home cooks can make to their food is to use more fresh herbs.
One of my favorite side dishes to make in the summer is ratatouille. Our garden is a prolific producer of squash, zucchini, and egg plant. Outside of the basic vegetables you can greatly impact the flavor profile of your dish by what fresh herbs you choose to use. For summer I like a little thyme and oregano. In the winter I use heartier herbs like sage and rosemary.
My basic Ratatouille is made using:
2 summer squash diced
2 zucchini diced
1 onion diced
1 large eggplant diced
Fresh chopped garlic
3 fresh tomatoes diced
1/4 cup of white wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Herbs chopped (Thyme and Oregano)
This is a really easy and basic dish. Sauteed the onion, zucchini, and squash in olive oil for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper, and continue to cook for another minute. Finally add the tomatoes and white wine. Let the mixture reduce for several minutes and add in your fresh chopped herbs.
This dish pairs with just about any protein. Here we serve grilled lamb sirloin over the ratatouille with a port reduction. This is fantastic with Croze Vintners Reserve Cabernet!