Chicken, Chorizo and Rosemary Risotto with Roasted Balsamic Baby Tomatoes

 

Every other month we enjoy stretching our culinary muscles and making dinner for Jim and Sandra.  It’s our time to try new and special recipes that might be a little more challenging – and sometimes exotic – than we might do for our selves.  It’s a lot of fun, and the bonus is that on our off months it’s their turn to cook for us!  We’ve been doing this for a number of years, and we’ve never been disappointed!  This past weekend was no exception.

Our menu for the evening consisted of a savory risotto from Jamie Oliver, with earthy seasonings and a healthy portion of roasted baby tomatoes.  I’ll be honest, I know them as grape tomatoes, but who am I to argue with Jamie Oliver?  It was his recipe, so he made the call.  The rich scent of the tomatoes was intoxicating as they roasted in the oven.

Jamie’s roasting method called for an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees Celcius, so that was our first bit of fun.  Does anyone recall the formula for converting Celcius to Fahrenheit?  That’s right!

Fahrenheit = (Celcius * 9 / 5) + 32     or, conversely     Celcius = (Fahrenheit – 32) * 5 / 9

Extra points for anyone who happened to get that right.  (I did, in case you’re wondering.)  When the math portion of cooking was finished, Jim needed to set the oven for 356 degrees F.  I believe he settled for 350 degrees F, and everything worked out fine.  I give Jim credit for working from a Jamie Oliver recipe anyway, as the terminology is sometimes “challenging” for a U.S. cook:  “put a good lug of olive oil in a sautee pan on the hob”.  We don’t work with lugs and hobs that much in the upper midwest, but life is an adventure!

With the tomatoes roasting, he set aside all of his ingredients and carefully got ready to begin The Big Stir.  This was a wise bit of preparation on his part, because he knew that a) once he started he was going to be committed to stirring that dish constantly for next 20 minutes and b) as predicted, his co-chef abandoned him to go chat with the rest of the girls in the living room!  No matter, he performed like a champ, and the result was a fantastic dinner.

The risotto was served with steamed broccoli and cauliflower and a salad, and the entire dinner ended with a freshly made fruit tart with a dollop of ice cream on top.  (Full disclosure:  Our hostess Sandra did return to prepare the tarts, and they were fantastic!)  In all, it was a fabulous dinner, greatly enjoyed by everyone.

Yum!

Ingredients:

  • Chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 free range or organic chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • Risotto rice – 1/2 cup per person
  • 1 large glass of white wine
  • Olive oil
  • 1 courgette, sliced at an angle
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • One handful fresh rosemary stalks
  • Baby tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Good quality organic chicken stock
  • One red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Butter

Preparation:

Heat up the oven to 180 C. Wash the baby tomatoes and place them in a roasting dish. Crack fresh salt and black pepper over the top, and pour over a generous serving of good quality olive oil. Add a table spoon of balsamic vinegar, and throw in a sprig of rosemary. Put the tomatoes in the oven when it is up to temperature and cook for twenty minutes.

In the mean time, you can start on the risotto. Put a good lug of olive oil in a sautee pan on the hob, and add your sliced garlic, chopped red onion, and the rest of the rosemary – washed, leaves taken off the stalks and finely chopped. Simmer on the hob for five minutes. Add your sliced chorizo and chicken, and continue to cook for five minutes.

Once the chicken has started to colour and the oils are seeping out of the chorizo, add your rice, frying at a medium temperature for a couple of minutes. Then add the wine, keeping the temperature high enough for the wine to simmer.

Now start adding the chicken stock, a small amount at a time, but keeping the ingredients just covered beneath the stock. You’ll need to cook the rice for about fifteen – twenty minutes. After ten minutes, add the sliced courgette, pushing it into the risotto to ensure it cooks through. At this point, your tomatoes should be done. Take them out of the oven and leave to one side.

When your rice is cooked, it’s important to leave your risotto to rest. Add a knob of butter, and pour in the roasted baby tomatoes, together with the yummy balsamic juice that will be in the pan. Add the grated parmesan, and stir these ingredients through the risotto gently. Cover and leave to rest for a couple of minutes (five).

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Dry Aged Prime Rib

New Years Eve!  Sure it’s a little bit of a made-up event, a self-selected arbitrary point in the space-time continuum.  No other life on earth seems to notice the change from one year to the next, but maybe that’s the point!  Whatever your beliefs on how we got to this point, there is no disagreement that we humans have the gift (curse?) of self-awareness, and New Years Eve seems like perfect time put that gift to its best use.  Some of us make resolutions to better ourselves, some make plans for the betterment of the world around us.  Me?  I like to roast a big hunk of meat and savor a bottle of fine wine.   Sorry world, you’re on your own for one night…

There are so many great New Years Eve dishes, but prime rib is absolutely my favorite.  I don’t think I’m alone, because a quick Google search for prime rib recipes gave me 4.2 million results.  That seemed a bit much, so I pointed my browser to the Food Network site, where the same search yielded 49 recipes. I could work with that. They were all fantastic, but the Dry Aged Prime Rib Roast from Guy Fieri was the clear winner for me.  I was eight days out from the big night, the perfect amount of time to do my own dry aging, so I got right to work.

If you look at the recipe link above, you’ll find that Guy provides a nice 3:17 minute video where he demonstrates his technique.  It’s very helpful, and I highly recommend you take a minute or three to watch.  I found the process of dry aging to be quite simple.  I simply rinsed our five pound roast and patted it dry, then covered it in cheesecloth and left it alone in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  At that time I removed the cheesecloth, which had soaked up quite a bit of the juices, covered the roast with a fresh layer of cheesecloth, and put it back into the fridge.  There I let it sit undisturbed for another eight days.  At the end of that time (on New Years Eve) I removed the prime rib from the refrigerator and it looked fantastic.

So far so good!  Guy was right, it had a real weathered look at this point, but we trusted him when he said that’s exactly what we wanted.  We trimmed a little of the fat cap on top to remove the excess, and then it was on to the next step, covering the roast with a spice rub.

Full disclosure, our roast came with a seasoning packet, and after a little discussion we decided that we’d just use this rub rather than making the rub Guy lists.  It was purely a matter of convenience, and I certainly intend to try the recipe at some point.  From the ingredient list it looks fantastic.

On to the seasoning.  For this, my daughter – and skilled assistant – Kelly helped me to cover the roast with the seasoning rub.  The scent of the salts and herbs was intoxicating by now.  We took our time to ensure that we covered every square inch of that roast with the rub, and when we we were finished, our mouths were literally watering.

Finally, we’re ready to roast!  For this we peeled and cut our carrots and onions, layering them on the bottom of the pan.  The meat was placed carefully on this bed of vegetables, and then I added two cups of water to the pan.  As noted in the recipe, I was careful to watch the level of liquids during the roasting process, as they would be needed later for the au jus.  I’m well aware that a great au jus can elevate the prime rib experience to something sublime, and I also know that a bad au jus can put a damper on the entire meal.  This was New Years Eve and so I wanted to do it right!

After placing a meat thermometer in the heart of the roast, I placed it in the oven which had been preheated to 450 degrees F.  We’ve had this oven for many years, and so I knew that a good long pre-heat would be necessary to get it to a legitimate 450 degrees.  I held that temperature for 45 minutes beforehand, so ensure that we’d be cooking as prescribed by the recipe.  After 40 minutes at this temperature, I left the door closed and reduced the cooking temperature to 275 degrees F.  After nearly two hours the meat thermometer showed an internal temperature of 135 degrees F, and the roast was removed to a cutting board, and kept under tented aluminum foil for 15 minutes.  During that time I prepared the au jus per the recipe, and the results were fantastic!  The spice rub carmelized in the inital heat to create a slightly crunchy crust of flavor, while internally the meat was perfectly pink and medium rare.

In my mind New Years Eve is a special night, and should be spent with family and friends.  I believe in making the event memorable, and this recipe fit perfectly with that intention.  It required some forethought and care, but the results were well worth the investment of my time.  I’d gladly prepare it again, and probably will!  We savored it with a bottle of 2006 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino which I’d been holding for a special occasion such as this, and the pairing was sensational.  I hope your New Years Eve was special as well.  All the best to you in 2012 and beyond.

Ingredients:

  • 6 rib beef roast, bone in, approximately 10 to 12 pounds
  • 1 package cheesecloth, cut in half (approximately 1 yard)
  • 1 sheet pan
  • 1 roasting rack to fit in sheet pan
  • Special equipment: Space in back of refrigerator for up to 10 days

Seasoning Mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons freshly cracked tri-color pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated onion
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander, toasted and cracked
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, washed, ends trimmed and cut into large (3-inch) chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups water

Au Jus:

  • Pan drippings from roast, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preparation:

For the roast:

Remove roast from packaging, rinse well. Pat completely dry, wrap with 3 layers cheesecloth. Place on a rack on a sheet pan in back of refrigerator, fat side up. After 24 hours, remove, unwrap, discard cheesecloth and wrap with a fresh piece. Place back in refrigerator for 6 to 9 days undisturbed.

Remove roast from refrigerator. Remove cheesecloth, cut away the fat and trim the ends and any discolored parts of roast.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place roast on a rack in a large, heavy roasting pan.

For the seasoning mixture:

In a medium bowl, combine spices and mix well. Be sure to crush the larger spices well for a uniform rub. (You can use mortar and pestle or large wooden end of a pounding mallet in non-glass bowl.) Rub roast with olive oil, then rub with seasoning. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Prepare vegetables, make a bed in the roasting pan with the vegetables and pour in the water. Be sure to check the liquid level in the pan occasionally and add additional water, if necessary. (You will need this liquid to make the au jus.) Place roast on top of vegetables and place in hot oven. Roast at 450 degrees F for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, reduce heat to 275 degrees F and continue to roast for approximately 2 hours, or until internal temperature (stay away from the bone while checking temp) reaches 135 degrees F. Remove from oven, remove from roasting pan, loosely tent and allow to rest for 15 minutes while making the au jus.

For the Au Jus:

Strain drippings from roasting pan, skim fat from drippings. Place roasting pan over 2 burners, heat on medium high and add in drippings, stir to deglaze, add in wine and stock, reduce by 1/3, about 5 minutes on steady boil, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, add in butter. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Strain once more into serving vessel.

Lemon Biscotti with Almonds and Chocolate

Lemon Biscotti with Almonds and Chocolate

It’s Christmas season, and we’ve forever been promising friends that we would make them a batch of biscotti cookies to enjoy with their morning coffee.  They’re originally from England and had previously supplied us with a tray of their fabulous scones, so it seemed only fair.  The other night I was lost in reading something or other that must have reminded me of our promise, because suddenly I realized that it was time to make good!  I set a reminder for myself for the next day, and when my alarm went off I began cooking.  Fun!

I’ve made biscotti before, but I don’t have any particular recipes bookmarked, so my first order of business was to decide what to make!  A quick Google search turned up a number of candidates, but I’m always partial to lemon so this particular recipe from Giada de Laurentis seemed like a great place to start.  Her recipe ends by dipping the cookies into the chocolate, but I altered it slightly so that I could include both white and dark chocolate.  The resulting cookies are quite delicious, and our British friends seemed pleased.  That’s what the holidays are about, right?  Doing the little things to put smiles on the faces of others.  Here’s wishing you a happy holiday season, too!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from about 3 to 4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds
  • 9 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 9 ounces dark semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • fat free skim milk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

 In another large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixture until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest and then the flour, and beat until just blended. (The dough will be sticky). Stir in the almonds. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Divide the dough evenly into 2 equal mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. With moist hands, space the dough evenly apart and form into 2 (9 by-3-inch) logs. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Place the chocolate chips in two medium bowls, one for the dark chocolate and one for the white chocolate. Place the bowls over pans of simmering water, making sure the bottom of each pan does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Add a small amount of skim milk to the chocolate to smooth to a consistency where it can be drizzled over the cookies.  Using a spoon, drizzle the dark chocolate over one half of each biscotti.  Repeat over that same half with the white chocolate.  Set the biscotti on a piece of wax paper until the chocolate has hardened. Store in an airtight container.

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

It all started with a trip to Haskell’s Wine & Spirits in Burnsville. I needed to buy a corkscrew for a gift, but I felt a little guilty for not buying a bottle of wine. My thinking is that if you want to have local wine shops you need to buy wine from local wine shops, so I started browsing and chose an unassuming little Cotes-du-Rhone. For whatever reason that made think of roasted chicken, and off we went! It’s amazing how many resources you can find online for roasted chicken, and I can’t imagine you’d go wrong with any of them. After quite a bit of really fun research, I centered on recipes by Thomas Keller, the chef from The French Laundry in Napa Valley. I found a post on Adam Keller’s “The Amateur Gourmet” blog which detailed his experiences, and that’s the recipe upon which I based my meal.

Some interesting tips that I learned, but didn’t quite have time to implement:

  • Let the chicken stand, uncovered, in the refrigerator for up to two days. This lets the bird dry out sufficiently to give you a nice crispy skin.
  • Let the bird stand on the counter for around two hours prior to cooking. This will allow it to come to room temperature and give you more even roasting.

I did let the bird come to room temp, but I found out about the drying time too late to give it a try this time. I’ll definitely give that a go next time so that I can find out how it works. I also bought bone-in skin-on thighs and drumsticks for my roasting, rather than trussing a whole bird. We like the rich flavor of the dark meat, so this is what we’d normally do. I’ve roasted an intact bird in the past and enjoyed it greatly, but if I’m not planning to make a grand presentation then this is my preferred method.

This was a simple recipe, but I really don’t see any need to make it complicated. The pieces are so succulent and juicy, and they paired perfectly with the Cotes-du-Rhone which inspired the whole meal. Cath and I oohed and ahhed our way through the meal, and our girls seemed quite pleased as well. Another bonus: we found out we enjoyed rutabagas! I’ve had them before in pasties in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, but this was possibly the first time we’ve made them in our kitchen. They tasted great, and I’m sure we’ll find a way to work them into our cuisine on a regular basis.

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 4 bone-in skin-on chicken drumsticks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and chopped
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large rutabagas
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into quarters
  • 8 small red-skinned potatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preparation

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 475 F.

Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Cut off both ends of the rutabagas. Using a vegetable peeler, peel away the skin, working from top to bottom and removing any tough outer layers. Cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Peel carrots, and cut into two-inch pieces. Cut red potatoes into chunks about 1-1/2 to 2 inches.

Combine all the vegetables and the roughly chopped garlic cloves and thyme sprig in a large bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a large cast-iron skillet or a roasting pan.

Rub the remaining oil over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Layer the vegetables evenly on the bottom of the roasting pan, and then layer the ckicken on top.

Cut the butter into small pieces and place one on each piece of chicken.

Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 F and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 F in the meatiest portions of the bird and the juices run clear. If necessary, return the bird to the oven for more roasting; check it every 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning them and glaazing them with the pan juices.

Arrange the pieces of chicken on a serving platter along with the vegetables and serve.

Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone 2008

Wine: Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone 2008

Price: $11.99 (on sale from $14.99)

Region: Rhone Valley, France

Grape Variety: 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah

Purchased: Haskell’s Wine & Spirits, Burnsville, MN

The impetus for purchasing this bottle of wine actually came because I wanted to buy a corkscrew.  We have plenty of wine in the cellar, but I needed to purchase an opener for a gift, so I stopped at our newest wine retailer in Burnsville, Haskell’s Wine & Spirits.  I’d shopped several of their locations in other parts of the Twin Cities, but this was my first foray into their Burnsville store.  Wow, what a great idea!  I’ve never liked their practice of overloading the aisles with cases of wine, and forcing you to navigate around all of the other hapless shoppers.  Not here.  This store was very nice, with the wines organized by region and country and plenty of space to browse and enjoy.  The prices were very comparable, and I’ll definitely be back.  Well done!

On to the wine.  As I toured the wine shop, I saw this bottle and decided to take a chance.  We’ve sampled several such bottles in the past, and I immediately had visions of enjoying this bottle with a meal of roasted chicken.  I’m not sure where that picture came from, it definitely started me on a mission.  More on that later.

This was a simple wine, not terribly complex at all.  Cath probably was a little tired watching me with my nose in the glass, but I worked for a long while to determine exactly what I was experiencing.  It was bright and fruity, and after a while I realized that I was getting vanilla.  I don’t recall having that sensation before, but it was good.  Different, but good.  The flavor of the wine was similarly fruity, and entirely enjoyable.  The finish was of a medium length, and very smooth.  We did drink this bottle with a meal of roasted chicken with earthy root vegetables, and the combination was outstanding.  I could honestly go back for this one on a weekly basis and be quite happy.

This was a spur-of-the moment purchase of an inexpensive wine which turned out quite well.  I learned about a wonderful wine shop and a great new wine!

Raspberry-Swirl Sweet Rolls

Raspberry-Swirl Sweet Rolls

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as though Food & Wine Magazine has made an honest (and very welcome!) effort at becoming more accessible to the masses.  Case in point: the January 2011 trends in food issue.  My bride brought home a copy the other night, and I couldn’t help but read it from cover to cover.  It was amazing, with so many recipes and ideas that I knew my family would love.  Among them, these sweet rolls shouted out that they must be made immediately.  They didn’t have to shout too loudly, my girls are big fans of my homemade cinnamon rolls, so this was no large risk.

The recipe includes tips on how to make the rolls ahead of time, which made them perfect for a late morning, Martin Luther King Day breakfast.  I prepared the dough on Sunday evening, and while it rose we settled in for a family night with a movie.  After the initial rise, I noticed that there was quite a bit of rasberry juice which collected around the rolls at the bottom of the pan.  We were a little nervous that they were going to have a soggy texture, but how far wrong can you go with a batch of baked dough, sugar and butter, right?  Our fears were premature.  After baking, the liquid was completely absorbed, and the finished rolls had the perfect texture.  The house was filled with the delicious scent of raspberry with a hint of lemon, and we enjoyed a terrific breakfast!

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Filling

  • One 10-ounce package IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) raspberries, not thawed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Glaze

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

  1. MAKE THE DOUGH: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over moderately low heat until it’s 95°. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and stir in the sugar and yeast. Let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the softened butter, eggs, grated lemon zest and sea salt. Add the flour and beat at medium speed until a soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 10 minutes longer.
  2. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands 2 or 3 times. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly buttered bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend up the short sides. Butter the paper and sides of the pan. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll it into a 10-by-24-inch rectangle.
  4. MAKE THE FILLING: In a medium bowl, toss the frozen raspberries with the sugar and cornstarch. Spread the raspberry filling evenly over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 24-inch-long log. Working quickly, cut the log into quarters. Cut each quarter into 4 slices and arrange them in the baking pan, cut sides up. Scrape any berries and juice from the work surface into the baking pan between the rolls. Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place until they are puffy and have filled the baking pan, about 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°. Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes, until they are golden and the berries are bubbling. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 30 minutes.
  6. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE GLAZE: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the butter and heavy cream until the glaze is thick and spreadable.
  7. Invert the rolls onto the rack and peel off the parchment paper. Invert the rolls onto a platter. Dollop glaze over each roll and spread with an offset spatula. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 4. Cover the rolls, refrigerate overnight and then return to room temperature before baking.

Notes

Variation The sweet rolls can be filled with a variety of frozen fruit. Try blackberries, strawberries, blueberries or chopped sweet cherries.

Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2006

Wine: Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2006

Price: $64.99

Region: Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France

Grape Variety: 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre & Cinsault

Purchased: Surdyk’s Wine & Liquor, Minneapolis, MN

This was our second bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and our first experience with Vieux Donjon.  I found it – once again – through Surdyk’s in Minneapolis, and while it’s a little expensive (okay, a lot) for an everyday wine, it seemed like it would be nice for a special occasion.  I feel confident in saying that I hit that one on the head!  I knew this would be a big, strong wine and so we decanted the bottle for 30 minutes before we enjoyed our first sip.  It would have been great to have a swallow of the wine beforehand, as a control sample, but I wasn’t smart enough to do that.  Regardless, it was supple and smooth and fantastic so I’m going to say I made the right decision.  Upon pouring, the wine had a deep ruby coloring.  We spent some time sampling the nose, and the first word out of Cathy’s mouth was “leather”.  I had to agree, and I added “musk” as well.  It was a complex and very pleasing union of leather and black cherry, with a mineral undertone of slate that made this wine extremely interesting.  The finish was smooth and wonderful, and lingered for several minutes.  We agreed that the wine was dry, in the best possible way, and it paired wonderfully with a meal of veal Osso Buco.  It was a fantastic wine, and we’d enjoy another bottle in a heartbeat.