Christmas is right around the corner and we can’t wait to eat delicious food and drink wonderful wine – two things that are easy to come by in the Napa Valley. This year, we’re keeping our Christmas day menu simple but a little fancy: smoked lamb with homemade mint jelly, baked potato latkes and beet salad. For dessert: bittersweet chocolate pecan pie. For a wine pairing, we think our smoky Syrah pairs beautifully with the subtle gamey characteristics of the lamb. And we’ll of course have full glasses of Wild Yeast Chardonnay while we’re cooking. Cheers and happy holidays!
Smoked Leg of Lamb
Paired with our 2011 Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah
½ cup olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar
¾ cup white wine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp garlic, minced
5-6 lbs leg of lamb
2 – 3 hickory (or any other preferred flavor) wood chunks
Stir together all ingredients of the marinade until somewhat emulsified. Place lamb in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag and pour marinade over lamb. Seal and chill for about 6 hours, turning occasionally.
Soak wood chunks in water for at least 30 minutes. Prepare smoker, and let burn for 15 – 20 minutes. Drain wood chunks and place on hot coals.
Remove lamb from marinade; pour marinade into water pan and place pan in smoker. Add water to pan to depth of fill line.
Place lamb on middle food rack; close smoker. Maintain smoker at 225 degrees.
Smoke lamb for 4 – 5 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of lamb registers 150 degrees.
Remove lamb from the smoker when its internal temperature reaches 5 – 10 degrees under your target done temperature. IMPORTANT: Cover and let the meat rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Homemade Mint Jelly
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
1 small lemon, zested and juiced
2 cups sugar
3 ounces liquid pectin
Place the mint and 2 cups water in a blender, and puree until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan. Stir in the lemon zest and juice and the sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Stir in the sugar, bring back to a boil and then add the liquid pectin. Remove from heat, let cool, then cover and refrigerate until set – about 4 hours.
Baked Potato Latkes
2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
1 small yellow onion
1/3 cup oat flour
sea salt, to taste
Peel and shred the potatoes. Place them in a colander and thoroughly rinse with cold water. Leave to drain in the colander while peeling and shredding the onion.
Shake the excess water off the potatoes as much as possible and transfer them to a large bowl. Add in shredded onion, egg, flour, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Squeeze the mixture between your fingers one small portion at a time to try and make the mixture as dry as possible. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Thoroughly grease a muffin pan with olive oil. Distribute the potato mixture between muffin holes, pressing into the bottom to achieve a regular pancake thickness. Brush with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing.
Beet Salad with Avocado Mayonnaise
4 small to medium beets
2 ripe but firm avocados
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup minced parsley and dill
handful of walnuts, chopped
Bake boil, or steam the beets until fully cooked. Cool, peel and shred the beets, and place in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, mash flesh of 1 avocado with a fork. Squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over it. Add olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Add the avocado mayo into the shredded beets, along with the garlic, herbs and walnuts. Mix well to incorporate. Adjust salt and pepper.
Right before serving, cut another avocado into cubes, squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon over it and add to the salad.
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
¼ cup heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp kosher salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cider vinegar
4 large eggs
One par-baked All Butter Crust for a 9 inch single-crust pie (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center of the oven. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool. Reduce the oven to 325 degrees.
To make the ganache layer, bring the heavy cream just to a boil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour in the chocolate pieces. Swirl the cream around to distribute and cover the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Scrape the ganache onto the cooled pie shell and spread evenly over the bottom. Place the shell in the freezer to set the ganache while making the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, ginger, salt and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, vanilla and cider vinegar and whisk to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in the cooled pecans.
Place the ganache-coated pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 55 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, 30 to 35 minutes through baking. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is slightly firm to the touch but still has some give. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temp.
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
½ lb cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup ice water
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 cup ice
Stir the flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain.
Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 – 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.
Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow.