Brrrrrrr . . . temperatures are quickly dropping here in New England. The leaves have been absolutely stunning outside (I've been posting them on Instagram a lot lately), but it's also getting dark early, which makes me sad.
Daylight Savings "Spring Forward" is one of my favorite days of the year. For a late-riser like me (who doesn't notice that the mornings have gotten so dark - ha ha), I love the extra sunlight I get at the end of my day. Of course, that means "Fall Back" is one of my least favorites, since it means the sun starts setting around 4:00 PM here (no joke - sooo much earlier than what I'm used to in the Midwest).
These cold, dark days naturally draw me back towards the warm, cozy comfort foods associated with winter.
Last year for my birthday Bryan bought me a Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker. I used to be so scared of pressure cookers, but this workhorse makes it easy. Seriously - I have absolutely no fear of anything exploding, and it saves me so much time.
Naturally, I wanted to adapt one of my favorite recipes - a dish I definitely make on a regular basis for guests - for the pressure cooker.
At the same time, I was given an opportunity to create a recipe to pair with wines from this growing Massachusetts-based company called 90+ Cellars.
I was quite drawn to their business model. Essentially, they buy surplus wines from wineries all around the world, re-brand the wines, and then sell the wines at a significant savings (compared to the original price). This allows wineries to sell their excess inventory without having to slash prices on their own branded wines. At the same time, customers of 90+ cellars are able to buy wines at great prices.
There is one caveat - the wines constantly change at 90+ Cellars. If you fall in love with wine, it may be hard to get more of it the following year or season, since their inventory is based solely on surpluses from other wineries. It's a different way of shopping for wine. Instead of relying on the brand name of a winery, you are trusting 90+ Cellars to choose good wines. In fact, I would argue that their ability to pick out good wines at a great price is a crucial component of their success. So far, the business has been growing pretty rapidly, so it certainly seems like they are doing something right.
Since Bryan's a huge fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, we decided to try their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford, Napa Valley. This wine typically sells for $50 at the source, but is being sold as simply "Lot 94" by 90+ Cellars for $21.99.
The wine's young, for sure. When we tried it immediately out of the bottle, it tasted jammy yet pretty light, with virtually no tannins. There was a slightly bitter finish. It was nice, but lacked depth.
Over time, after some serious decanting and aerating, the wine opened up and became noticeably deeper and more complex in flavor. There was more deep fruit. Overall, however, I would say it's still a reasonably light cab with less tannins than a typical cab. It's perfectly enjoyable to drink and definitely a good value for a $20+ bottle.
I think this wine pairs well with osso bucco Milanese because it's a slightly lighter cab. Unlike a heavy rich steak, I find osso bucco Milanese to be more in the middle of the pack when it comes "hearty-ness" (if there is such a word). Yes, it's a beautifully "meaty" dish, but it also includes a citrus-herb gremolata which brightens up the dish significantly. Plus veal is just a lighter meat than beef, in general.
Now that winter's on the way, I will most certainly be making this dish a lot more - and definitely with the pressure cooker and a nice big bottle of red wine.
Milanese Veal Osso Bucco
Adapted from Tyler Florence
4 pieces veal shank with bone, cut 2 inches thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup red wine (can use dry white wine as well)
1 T tomato paste (optional)
2 cups chicken stock (or enough to cover the shanks in the pan)
1 can of chopped tomatoes (14 oz)
In the pressure cooker over medium-high heat, sear all sides of the veal shanks in 1 T oil until nicely browned. Set aside the veal shanks. Add remaining oil and add the chopped onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley and cook until softened (~5-10 minutes). Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add wine, turn up the heat, and deglaze the pan. Add the shanks back in, and pour in the chicken broth and the canned chopped tomatoes. Make sure that the entire shank is covered (or at least mostly covered) in liquid. Cook at the second ring level for about 1 hour, which will make the meat fall-apart soft. It is decent after about 30 minutes, but the texture is much better after 1 hour.
Release the pressure and continue to cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or so to reduce some of the broth.
For a fun twist on gremolata, try this cilantro version!
zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
minced 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped
splash of lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
Combine the zest, garlic, and cilantro in a bowl. Mix well. Add a splash of lime juice and season to taste with salt and optionally pepper.
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