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Peak Pairings

Published May 2008, Birmingham magazine
Lamb Chops with Lemon and Garlic
4 Two-rib lamb chops
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Salt and ground black pepper

Combine oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl then divide the mixture into two bowls. Add lamb chops to one bowl and coat well. Set aside for half an hour at room temperature. Scrape marinade off chops and discard. Cook on a very hot grill, approximately three minutes per side for medium rare. Serve immediately with the remaining oil-lemon mixture poured over the top. Serves four.

Deviled Pork Chops
4 boneless pork chops, 1/2 inch thick
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix and stir together the mustard, lemon, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper. Arrange pork chops on an aluminum foil lined pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides and brush half the mustard mixture over the top. Position an oven rack three or four inches from the broiler element. Heat broiler to high. Broil chops six to eight minutes on one side. Turn pork chops over with tongs. Brush with remaining mixture and broil until pork chops are brown, approximately five minutes. Let pork chops rest for a few minutes, then sprinkle the better-looking side with parsley. Serves four.

Penne with Cognac
2 slices smoked bacon, diagonally sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 28 oz can San Marzano Italian plum tomatoes, cleaned & quartered
1 bay leaf
1 pound imported Penne pasta
1/3 cup good quality Cognac
1 cup aged Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup half and half (room temperature)
Pinch red pepper
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan sauté bacon with onion in the olive oil for about four minutes, being careful not burn onion. Add pinch of red pepper, quartered tomatoes, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Stir occasionally, over medium heat, for about 25 minutes. When sauce has cooked for 12 minutes, begin to cook the penne in boiling salted water for about eight minutes until al dente. Remove bay leaf from cooked sauce, and pass sauce through a food mill. Return pan to burner. Add cognac and simmer. Drain the penne. Return to the pot in which it was cooked. Add hot sauce and half of the Cheddar cheese. Toss until well mixed. Add the half-and-half slowly and toss again. Serve in pasta bowls. Dust with the remaining grated Cheddar cheese. Serves six.

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