CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fall is here! For me that means harvest is upon us, both in the world's great wine regions and here in West-by-Golly, too. While we're not picking grapes in the Kanawha Valley, our local farmers market (Capitol Market) is plum full of late season veggies that I have been eating and/or feverishly preserving for winter-time consumption.
Also this time of year, my thoughts turn to all manner of grilled meat dishes along with hearty red wines that go so well in cooler weather. But just as I began to plan a feast for this weekend built around these scrumptious victuals, I was reminded (by guess who) of my impending annual physical examination.
My family doctor's prescription for my well being includes a heavy dose of reality and a lecture on the merits of lifestyle moderation. So before I visit with him, I've decided to prepare a meal that includes a plethora of farm fresh vegetables, some heart-healthy red wine and roasted meat that is chock full of protein. Just what the doctor (Feelgood) ordered.
(Note to self: this menu might not comport with the wishes of my family physician).
While I'm a man of simple tastes, I am sometimes required to consume complex dishes with esoteric wines and then render intelligent opinions on the experience. For instance, it is difficult to explain in plain English why shank of armadillo, braised with bok choy in a Tabasco sauce, is such a heavenly match to vermentino grown on the south-facing slope of Mount Supramonte in Sardinia.
So when I cook for friends and family, the food is usually straightforward, down-home meat and starch type meals with fairly inexpensive, no-nonsense wines that taste good and help de-clog the arteries (see, I'm really trying to be healthy).
In fact, I dearly love rack of lamb, grilled and served with a great big, full-throttle Zinfandel. I have used New Zealand rack purchased at Sam's Club and these babies are excellent. But recently, I was able to get U.S.-raised, anti-biotic-free rack of lamb from my good friends at Sandy Creek Farms near Ravenswood.
I have mentioned Sandy Creek many times in the past. They raise beef, pork and lamb on organic food-stocks with no antibiotics or other additives, and then butcher and flash freeze the cuts of meat, which they then deliver in the Charleston area. If you're interested in having them deliver to you, call 1-800-487-2569.
While I love their beef and especially their pork chops, the rack is simply succulent. Here's my recipe for marinated and grilled rack of lamb, along with a few wine suggestions to go with this delicious meal that will feed four adults.
Marinated Rack of Lamb
3 ounces of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 ounces of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary chopped
2 6- to 8-rib racks of lamb
the first six ingredients and whisk into a marinade.
marinade and racks of lamb in a gallon-size plastic baggie or dish and cover for up to four hours.
a charcoal or gas grill and roast the racks covered using indirect heat.
for about 20 minutes (for medium rare) and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
the racks into single or double ribs and serve.
with a side dish of ratatouille, vegetable couscous or pasta in a pesto sauce.
For the perfect wine accompaniments, I suggest full-bodied reds such as zinfandel or grenache. Try Ridge, Falcor, Edmeades or Easton zinfandel or Las Rocas, Borsao Tres Picos or Evodia grenache (garnacha). These wines are all priced under $20 a bottle.
For more on the art and craft of wine, visit John Brown's Vines&Vittles blog at thegazz.com.