With autumn in full swing and its chile-scented chill in the air, our palates welcome the warmth of spices just as our bellies make room for heartier dishes. And as the days grow shorter—even while the workday does not!—we hunt for good reasons to toast and sip a fine glass of wine at the end of the day. So this month, we have indeed not just one good reason to toast, but three great excuses to say three cheers—and three delicious recipes, to boot. These three Duke City staples hold the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. This particular award, in the words of winespectator.com, is given to those establishments that “offer at least 90 selections, feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Whether compact or extensive, focused or diverse, these lists deliver sufficient choice to satisfy discerning wine lovers.”
We asked each of them to share a recipe and wine pairing of their choice…and in return we received three excellent wines to enjoy alongside delicious dishes that incorporate the warmth and spice of autumn. Thank you, Ranchers Club of New Mexico, Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm (Campo, their new restaurant, opens this month!), and Bien Shur at Sandia Resort and Casino for giving us a reason to eat out—and now, cook in—drink up and say cheers. We know you’ll enjoy Campo Chef Jonathan Perno’s squash soup with spicy pepitas, and two different takes on Moroccan lamb—Ranchers Club Chef Christopher Galle’s chops with gremolata sauce, and Bien Shur Chef Martin Torrez’s spiced rack with mint chimichurri—and of course, three very different, very excellent wines.
Los Poblanos Buttercup Squash Cream Soup with Spicy Pepitas and Sour Cream
Paired with 2015 Casa Magoni “Manaz” Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico
Recipe by Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm Chef Jonathan Perno and pairing by Beverage Director Dylan Storment
Dylan on the pairing: The Viognier contrasts the creaminess of the soup with a bright acidity, while complimenting the flavors with nuances of white flowers, citrus and a distinct nuttiness. With the addition of 20-percent Fiano, the wine evolves with a ginger spice that dances with the rich autumn flavors.
For the pepitas:
2 cups pepita seeds
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup Chimayó red chile powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ an egg white (whipped about 15 seconds)
2 Tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix together. Then turn the nut mixture onto an oiled parchment-lined half-sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often so not to burn. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Set aside for garnishing later.
For the soup:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion (peeled and medium diced)
3 cloves garlic (peeled and sliced)
1 large buttercup squash (seeded, peeled and diced)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 large bay leaf
1 Tablespoon dry mustard powder
½ whole nutmeg bean (grated)
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 16-ounce container sour cream (for garnish)
In an 8-quart stockpot, add the oil and heat until just smoking. Next, add the onions and garlic, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring often so not to burn. Then add squash and season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring every so often. Add the bay leaf, mustard and nutmeg and cook for about another 2 minutes. Then deglaze with the wine and cook until reduced by half. Next, add the stock, water and cream. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, skimming as you go. Remove the soup from the heat and let sit for about 10-15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning as needed and blend and then strain. This is best if made one day ahead. Reheat the soup and garnish with the sour cream and spicy pepitas.
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, Campo, 4803 Rio Grande Blvd. NW in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, 505.344.9297; reservations at 505.338.1615, lospoblanos.com.
Ranchers Club Moroccan Lamb Chops with Gremolata Sauce
Paired with 2013 Santo Tomás Tinta México, Baja Mexico
Recipe by Ranchers Club of New Mexico Chef Christopher Galle and pairing by the chef and Wine Director/General Manager Jacy Goad
Jacy on the pairing: The 2013 Santo Tomás Tinta México is a dry, nice blend from both Saint Thomas and Saint Vincent Valleys in Baja California. Desert-type weather is quite good for this great blend. It’s somewhat fruity the longer it stays in your mouth, and easy on the tongue. It has medium-high acidity with good character, and the tannins help break through the fatty elements of the lamb. The dry elements in the wine also blend very well with the Moroccan spices.
For the Moroccan Spice blend:
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Place seeds and chili flakes in a cast-iron skillet and toast until aroma is apparent. Place all ingredients in spice grinder and blend thoroughly. Set spice blend aside.
For the Sauce Gremolata:
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh minced shallots
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Place ingredients in a bowl and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the lamb:
4 bone rack of lamb (1-3 pounds, average)
Moroccan spice blend
Rub lamb rack generously with spice mixture and salt and pepper. Wrap chop bones in foil to prevent charring. Grill over medium-high to high heat to desired doneness (8 minutes or so for medium-rare with a 2-pound rack). Allow lamb to rest 10 minutes once desired temperature has been reached. Slice lamb between bones into individual chops. Garnish with Sauce Gremolata and serve.
The Ranchers Club of New Mexico, 1901 University Blvd. NE in Albuquerque, 505.889.8071, theranchersclubofnm.com.
Bien Shur Moroccan Spiced Rack of Lamb with Mint Chimichurri
Paired with 2015 Biale Black Chicken Zinfandel
Recipe by Sandia Resort and Casino’s Bien Shur Chef Martin Torrez and pairing by Supervisor Kristian Rose
Kristian on the pairing: The Oak Knoll Winegrowing region is prevalent in this wine with its dark color, ripe aromatics and juicy acidity. The nose is full of vibrant black cherries, strawberries, crème fresh, dried flowers, brown and black spices, and bread pudding. The entry is soft and weighty and gives way to supple, round tannins. The lovely finish is the signature of this elegant, surprisingly feminine and remarkably balanced Zinfandel that is immediately drinkable and worthy of five to seven more years of cellar time. It perfectly complements the spices used in the rub, while the acidity helps to cut through the fats in the lamb itself.
2 1-pound racks of lamb to start
Wet Moroccan Spice Rub:
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Stir together in a mixing bowl and apply as a wet rub to each rack of lamb. Briefly sear lamb at a medium-high heat for marks on the meat, then bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (medium-rare).
¾ cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup parsley, rough chopped
½ a large shallot, rough chopped
1 ½ cloves of garlic
¼ Tablespoon dried oregano
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Juice from ½ a lemon
½ Tablespoon fresh-squeezed orange juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients into blender (Vitamix, preferably) and slowly incorporate ¼-cup extra virgin olive oil to emulsify. Drizzle over prepared lamb, or use as condiment.
Aperitif for palate preparation:
½ ounce Lejon Sweet Vermouth
¾ ounce Cles De Ducs Armagnac Millesime
¾ ounce Gran Marnier
Combine all ingredients in shaker. Shake vigorously and double strain into a martini glass. Serve up with a lemon twist with a dash of bitters on the twist itself.
Bien Shur at Sandia Resort and Casino, 30 Rainbow Road in Albuquerque, 505.798.3961, sandiacasino.com/dining/bien-shur.
by Mia Rose Poris