Once again this week we will be talking about another big-boy red that stands up best to…you got it, steak and other dishes containing red meat in all of its forms. Vegetarians take cover, but don’t despair. We will have recipes and wine pairings for you too in the future.
First things first, Syrah is Shiraz. It’s the same grape with two names and several different flavor profiles. It can be grown in warm climates like Australia and the Northern Rhone as well as cooler ones like Washington State. Whatever name you choose, Syrah/Shiraz is the most popular warm climate grape in the world. With Australia leading the charge, which is really no surprise considering it was one of the original varietals brought to Australia in the 19th century. Syrah/Shiraz really took off in the 1990’s after mediocre Bordeaux vintages with exuberant prices left people scratching their heads searching for value and taste from France, enter the Northern Rhone where Syrah/Shiraz is king, whether blended or on its own. People from all over the world seemed to embrace warm climate varietals over cold climate ones. Australia quickly took the lead when this realization of the grape took hold since they had the most Syrah/Shiraz planted in the world. Writing about this varietal could fill a book; I’ll do my best to condense it into a single column.
The different taste profiles come from Terroir (sun, soil, slope of the land) and different production techniques for making the wine. Syrah/Shiraz from the Northern Rhone tends to produce big bold wines with smoky, peppery spice and firm tannins which in part it takes on from small oak barrels that are used by many producers, perfect for steak and meat dishes. Australian Syrah/Shiraz on the other hand tends to have a sweeter, fruitier style with hints of chocolate. The best winein my opinion is coming from The Barossa and McLaren Valleys where oak or steel are used to age the wine. Washington State, along with California, create some great Syrah/Shiraz. California being the first to plant the varietal in the 1970’s, these rogues were called “The Rhone Rangers.” California Syrah/Shiraz was less tannic than the superstar Cabernet Sauvignon and was more food friendly. I need to wrap this up; I’m getting hungry for Chef Dave Repp’s recipe. Hang with me a bit longer. Washington State, which is obviously cooler than California, produces more plummy, black cherry wines with a hint of smoky bacon and spice. I personally love Syrah/Shiraz from this state.
Now I know that this column seems like a lot to digest and I know that your eyes have wondered across the page and over to the recipe. That’s ok I’m not offended, it’s a great recipe. Just remember this about Syrah/Shiraz; it’s a full bodied monster of a red that can take on many different flavors and aromas depending on how and where it was grown. Try this varietal from all of the regions that I have talked about and decide for yourself what style you prefer, because as we all know, it’s all about what you like regardless of price or perception. Embrace your taste!
Here are some of my favorite Syrah/Shiraz wines that you can find at my store. Yalumba, Barossa Valley Australia, 2004: $15.99. Matchbook, California, 2005: $14.99. Westerly Vineyards, 2004, California, 92 points Wine Spectator: $17.99. Barnard & Griffin, Washington State, 2004: $15.99. Water Brook, Washington State, 91 points Wine Spectator: $21.99. La Rollande, Crozes-Hermitage, 2005: $23.99. All of which would be the perfect compliment to Chef Repp’s recipe.
David Repp is Executive Chef at Splash Restaurant in Westport, Connecticut.
CIDER BRAISED SHORT RIBS
¼ CUP KOSHER SALT
6 BEEF SHORT RIBS ABOUT 3 LBS
½ CUP RED WINE
2 CUPS APPLE CIDER
¼ CUP CIDER VINEGAR
½ TBLS BROWN SUGAR
2 TBLS SOY SAUCE
1 CLOVE GARLIC CRUSHED
2 CUPS CHICKEN STOCK
1 BAY LEAF
1 TBLS CORN STARCH MIXED WITH ½ TBLS WATER
COMPLETELY COAT THE SHORT RIBS IN THE KOSHER SALT AND LET SIT FOR 30 MINUTES TO BRINE
RINSE OFF THE SALT AND PAT THE RIBS DRY
HEAT A MEDIUM BRAISING PAN TO SMOKING HOT AND ADD A LITTLE CANOLA OIL, BROWN THE RIBS ON ALL SIDES, REMOVE TO A PLATE
ADD THE CELERY, ONION, AND CARROTS, SAUTE TO CARAMELIZE AND REMOVE TO A PLATE
POUR OUT THE OIL, ADD THE RED WINE AND APPLE CIDER AND REDUCE BY 3/4
ADD THE CHICKEN STOCK, BAY LEAF SOY SAUCE, GARLIC, CIDER VINEGAR, BROWN SUGAR, AND BRING TO A QUICK BOIL.
ADD THE SHORT RIBS COVER AND SIMMER FOR 2 HOURS AT 225 DEGREES
AFTER 1 ½ HOURS ADD THE VEGETABLES AND THE CORN STARCH MIXTURE
AN HOUR LATER CHECK THE RIBS FOR DONENESS (THE RIBS SHOULD BE VERY TENDER ,IF NOT COOK FOR ANOTHER ½ HOUR)
REMOVE THE RIBS AND VEGETABLES AND REDUCE THE SAUCE UNTIL SLIGHTLY THICK. TASTE THE SAUCE. NOW IS THE TIME TO ADD SALT OR MORE BROWN SUGAR TO YOUR TASTE
RETURN THE RIBS AND VEGETABLES TO THE POT TO COAT WITH THE SAUCE AND SERVE
ORZO MAC &CHEESE
1 LBS ORZO (SMALL OVAL SHAPED PASTA THAT LOOKS SIMILAR TO RISSOTTO RICE)
1/2 SMALL ONION DICED
1 TBLS GARLIC MINCED
1/3 LBS UNSALTED BUTTER
2 CUPS WHITE WINE
5 CUPS LOW SODIUM OR HOME MADE CHICKEN STOCK
3 OZ CHEDDAR CHEESE OR GURYERE
¼ CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
½ CUP HEAVY CREAM
SWEAT THE ONOINS AND GARLIC IN THE BUTTER UNTIL TRANSLUCENT
USING A WOODEN SPOON STIR IN THE ORZO AND COAT IN THE BUTTER
ADD THE WHITE WINE, 2tsp KOSHER SALT, STIR AND COOK ON MEDIUM HEAT
ADD 2 CUPS OF CHICKEN STOCK ANOTHER 2 tsp KOSHER SALT AND STIR UNTIL THE STOCK IS REDUCED BY 3/4
SLOWLY STIR IN THE OTHER 3 CUPS OF CHICKEN BROTH AND STIR CONSTANTLY UNTIL THE ORZO HAS THE CONSISTANCY OF RISSOTTO
THE ORZO SHOULD BE COOKED TO A SOFT TEXTURE IF IT IS NOT STIR IN SMALL AMOUNTS OF CHICKEN STOCK UNTIL SOFT
SLOWLY STIR IN THE PARMESAN, CHEDDAR, AND CREAM
SEASON TO TASTE WITH SALT AND PEPPER AND SERVE OR SPREAD ON SHEET PAN TO COOL
USE GURYERE CHEESE INSTEAD OF CHEDDAR FOR THAT RESTAURANT TASTE
TO REHEAT ADD A LITTLE CHICKEN STOCK AND STIR ON LOW HEAT