Wine #1: Torrontés – For the first course, Alamos sent me a bottle of their 2012 Torrontés. I’d never tried Torrontés before, but I read that it’s a fairly sweet white wine, sometimes compared to Gewürtztraminer and Riesling. Pairing suggestions included sweet fruits, rich meats such as salmon and foie gras, and spicy food. I went the sweet/rich route and prepared an arugula salad, lightly dressed with a Meyer lemon and maple dressing, then tossed with poached quince, manchego, and prosciutto. Most of the quinces available in the U.S. come from Argentina, so it seemed like an appropriate ingredient. I was really into this salad – sweet, salty, bitter, and rich, it hit all my flavor high points. The Torrontés was indeed a bit sweet, but with a crisp, dry finish.
Wine #2: Malbec – Malbec was the varietal of choice for the second course. Another wine that I don’t have a ton of experience with, Malbec is frequently characterized as an intensely fruity wine with berry and plum flavors, and a good budget alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. I liked this particular bottle – my first thought was “mmm, tastes like Merlot”. Another good value, this medium-bodied wine would make a good everyday red. Since Malbec pairs well with rich flavors, red meat, and aromatic herbs, we served this with a beef short rib braise and potato gnocchi. Argentina’s cuisine has a lot of Italian influence, so the gnocchi aren’t at all out of place in this dish, and the pillowy dumplings soak up the beefy red wine sauce really well.
Arugula Salad with Poached Quince, Prosciutto, and Manchego
- 3 quince
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 4 c. water
- 1 Meyer lemon
- 1 TBS maple syrup
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 5 oz. baby arugula
- 4 oz. manchego cheese, cut into small cubes
- 2 oz. prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
- At least 3 hours before you’d like to serve the salad, poach the quince. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the quince, then very carefully slice the fruit away from the core and seeds in wedges – careful, quince can be kind of slippery. Place the sugar and the water in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Place the quince wedges in the simmering syrup, and place a plate over the top of the fruit to keep them submerged. Keep at a gentle simmer until quince have turned rosy and are very tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a little more water if the syrup gets too low. Pour the quince and their syrup into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled.
- Cut the lemon in half and remove as many seeds as possible. Squeeze the lemon juice into a jar or small bowl. Add the maple syrup, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover jar with lid and shake to mix dressing, or whisk vigorously if using a bowl. Set aside.
- About 15 minutes before serving, add the arugula to a large salad bowl and gently toss with the dressing. Let sit for a few minutes, then divide dressed greens between four plates. Top each plate with a few slices of quince, cubes of manchego, and strips of prosciutto. Serve immediately.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
- 2 TBS paprika
- 2 TBS sea salt
- 1 TBS garlic powder
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
- 4 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
- 2 TBS vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, peeled and diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 TBS flour
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- 2 c. red wine
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 2 c. crushed tomatoes
- 2 c. beef stock
- Potato Gnocchi, to serve (store bought is fine, too)
- In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, sea salt, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, and cayenne until evenly combined. Rub this spice mixture all over the short ribs, covering all sides. Heat the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add as many short ribs as will comfortably fit, and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total per rib. Once browned, transfer the ribs to a plate and set aside. Repeat until all the ribs are browned.
- Discard all but 2 TBS of the fat from the pan, and return to the heat. Add the diced onions and carrots and cook for 5-7 minutes, until onions are translucent, stirring frequently. Add the flour and stir to coat the veggies, and allow to cook for 1 minute. Then stir in the tomato paste, and slowly add the red wine, stirring and allowing the mixture to thicken slightly between each addition. Once you’ve added all the wine to the pot, return the ribs to the pot. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and let simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- After the ribs have simmered for 25 minutes, add the tomatoes and beef stock to the pan, stir to combine, and cover with a lid. Place in the oven and cook, turning every hour or so, until ribs are very tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove from oven, and skim as much fat from the surface as possible. If you want a more elegant preparation, remove the ribs, strain the sauce and discard the vegetables – this is optional, and we served this rustic-style. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper, and serve the ribs and their sauce over freshly cooked potato gnocchi.