Recipe of the Day, 8/22/14
On our recent trip to Istanbul, we were astounded and delighted by the sights and sounds of this stunning city. However, it was the taste and scents of this ancient culture - the tangy, spicy, smoky mezze before each meal; the briny, pine-accented breeze off the Bosphorus; the notes of violet in our honey and loam in our tea; and of course the Spice Bazaar itself, redolent of apricot and sumac - that really sparked our imaginations. In that spirit, for the first in our wine pairing series, we thought we'd pair our 2010 Hoppe-Kelly Syrah, with its hints of spice and black fruit and nose of violet, with a classic dish dating all the way back to the early days of the Ottoman Empire: Lamb Moussaka.
Lamb-Zucchini Moussaka with Von Holt Wines' 2010 Hoppe-Kelly Syrah
This recipe serves eight, and for ease of cooking, I've separated the pre-assemblage process into three discrete steps, each with their own list of ingredients, so be sure you have everything on hand, including at least one large skillet, one medium saucepan, and one two-quart casserole pan, before you begin.
1 tbsp. butter
1 c. onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. sumac (optional)
2 lbs. ground lamb
1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled & sliced
1/4 c. fresh dill, chopped
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
salt and pepper, to taste
Melt butter in a large skillet and saute onion on medium until transparent, then add the minced garlic just for the minute it takes to get aromatic. If you have it available in your spice pantry, I'd strongly suggest adding the sumac to this mixture of alliums, as it'll give them a little tartness to help brighten up some of the richer flavors. Regardless, after the garlic has released its flavor, add the ground lamb and increase the heat slightly as you stir to brown. Add the tomatoes, dill, parsley, and tomato paste, stir until incorporated, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat or remove the mixture from the pan entirely and set it aside.
2 tbsp. cooking oil
3 lg. zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/8" strips
1 1/2 tbsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
When working with zucchini in casseroles, it is advisable to cut them into slices ahead of time and, salting each layer, lay them in a colander during the rest of your prep time (and up to two hours ahead of time). Then gently press them with paper towels when you remove them for use. This will help remove the excess moisture from the zucchini and your casserole will better maintain its structural integrity. In any case, heat the oil in a skillet and saute the zucchini slices until tender, adding the dried oregano (and salt, if you haven't used the salt method to dehydrate your zucchini) about halfway through. Remove from pan and set on paper towels. Peel and slice potatoes, and brown on both sides in the same pan, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
2 sticks butter
1 c. flour
4 c. milk, hot
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 c. fresh Kasseri cheese, grated (if you can't find a medium-firm sheep's cheese from the region, Romano is an acceptable substitute)
3 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
Dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Melt your butter in a medium saucepan and slowly integrate the flour while stirring until you have a smooth paste. Also slowly, drizzle in the hot milk (which I begin heating over a low temperature while cooking the potatoes), still stirring, until the entire mixture is smooth and thick. Mix in the slightly beaten eggs and the grated cheese, and cook for two minutes before seasoning with the dill, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Lay the potatoes from step two across the bottom of a two-quart casserole dish. Cover with half the lamb-tomato mixture from step one. Then layer half your zucchini, the remaining half of the meat mixture, and the final half of the zucchini slices. Pour your cheesy "pudding" from step three over the top, then put the whole casserole in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes (50 usually works, but if you're a late pre-heater or a compulsive oven opener, give it 60).
Let rest for 10-15 minutes, pour yourself a glass of Von Holt Wines' 2010 Hoppe-Kelly Syrah, and enjoy the fruits of your labor with the fruits of ours.
Let us know how you liked this food pairing in the comments section below, and stay tuned for our next installment in this series. Also if there's something particular YOU like to eat with our Syrah, send us the recipe: we're always excited about new food pairings!
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