(Courtesy of Jo Jo, via Unsplash)

Wine Country BBQ: 5 Summer Grill Recipes + Pairings From Napa & Sonoma Chefs

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A fine wine deserves better than burgers and dogs, so we asked Wine Country's top chefs how we can take our summer barbecues up a notch.

Michelin-starred chefs Thomas Keller (Bouchon Bistro) and Ken Frank (La Toque), plus Sondra Bernstein (The Girl & The Fig), Ethan Speizer (Ashes + Diamonds), and Todd Knoll (Jordan Winery) have shared their favorite recipes for grilling, complete with suggested wine pairings. These will inspire you to fire up fresh seafood, veggies, and juicy cuts of meat that have never been through a grinder.


Ashes + Diamonds’ Grilled Hanger Steak with Maille Mustard & Miso Vinaigrette

(Courtesy of Ashes + Diamonds)

This isn't your dad's Worcestershire marinade.

"The mustard adds beautiful acidity and depth to the beef and the miso rounds it out with additional umami. Not only does the mustard marinade add flavor, it also helps the meat caramelize beautifully on the grill," says chef Ethan Speizer, who suggests saving this marinade recipe for any type of meat or fish. "When the marinade hits the grill, the aroma is seriously intoxicating."

Although the menu rotates seasonally, this dish could pop up in the winery's new A&D Wines + Food experience ($95), which features six wines paired with a five-course luncheon.


You will need:

  • 1-2 lb hanger steak
  • miso vinaigrette marinade (recipe below)
  • 1 tsp parsley, chopped
  • handful of mustard greens, little gems, or other summer lettuces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Miso Vinaigrette Marinade:

  • 1 tbsp Maille whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed and chopped or microplaned
  • 1 tsp chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp tarragon, chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup high quality olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine mustard, miso, chives, garlic, tarragon, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk to emulsify. Once finished, season to taste with a pinch of both salt and pepper.

Method:

  1. Use half of your vinaigrette as a marinade for your steak. Rub it all over the steak liberally, storing in a Ziploc or a pyrex pan. Put your steak in the fridge to marinate for up to 4 hours.
  2. Light a charcoal or gas grill. When the fire is hot, put the steak on the grill, turning every 2 - 3 minutes until it is well browned and reaches 130-135 degrees on a thermometer.
  3. Let the steak rest on a cutting board for 8 - 10 minutes.
  4. Slice your steak against the grain in ¼-inch thick slices and fan onto the plate.
  5. In a large bowl, dress your greens with a splash of Maille mustard vinaigrette and a pinch of salt.
  6. Plate your greens to the side of your steak and drizzle the steak and surrounding plate with more vinaigrette.

Wine Pairing:

Speizer suggests pairing this dish with a bottle of 2016 Halcyon Cabernet Franc. He says, "This dish screams for a Loire Valley-esque cabernet franc, and Halcyon fits that bill. The savory qualities in the wine compliment the umami brought to your palate by the mustard and miso vinaigrette, as well as the char on the steak, plus the early-palate, fresh and bright fruit play well with the acidity of the dish. It's a perfect match."

// Ashes + Diamonds, 4130 Howard Lane (Napa), ashesanddiamonds.com

La Toque’s Chesapeake Bay Soft-Shell Crab with Fregola Sarda and Pesto

(Megan Menicucci Photo)

With only a few weeks left of crab season, the time is now to make this dish.

This quick and easy soft shell crab recipe is currently being offered as a seasonal item at Michelin-starred La Toque. Chef Ken Frank explains why soft shell crab is "a unique, American seafood delicacy."

"The blue crabs have just molted, and the new shell on the crab is soft, but can expand and harden quickly with the minerals in water," says Frank. Crabbers seek to quickly remove the freshly-molted crabs from the water before their new shell hardens.

If you've never trimmed crab, Frank has some tips: "With the crab belly down on your cutting board, pull up each side of the top shell to reveal the soft, pointy gills underneath. Trim them away where they meet the body and discard. Then turn the crab over and cut away the tail flap, which curls up under the body at the rear. Trim off the mandible on the front."


You will need:

  • 4 soft shell crabs
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cooked fregola sarda
  • 3 tbsp pesto Genoese
  • 1 lemon
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Trim the gills, mouth and tail flap from the crab. Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a sauté pan until it just begins to brown. Add the crabs, belly down, and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. The belly will begin to brown nicely when they're done.
  2. Turn crabs over and cook 1 more minute, top down.
  3. Turn the crabs back on their bellies, remove from heat, and add a generous squeeze of lemon juice to the pan. Add the final tbsp of butter and allow them to simmer in the lemon butter for about a minute. Remove crabs and set aside.
  4. Add the cooked fregola to the pan with the butter and the crab drippings.
  5. Swirl in the pesto and add a little water (if needed) to make a smooth sauce.
  6. Verify seasoning, divide sauce among four bowls, and place crab on top.

Wine Pairing:

At La Toque, this dish is paired with the 2016 Granbazan Albariño from Spain.

"It's a highly aromatic white wine that smells like orange blossoms and white peaches," says Frank. "It is crisp on the palette and finishes with a saltiness that is reminiscent of the spray of the ocean, which makes it the perfect compliment to fresh seafood."


// La Toque, 1314 McKinstry St. (Napa), latoque.com

Bouchon Bistro's Grilled Pork Chop with Eggplant Polenta, Grilled Squash + Sauce Ravigote

(David Escalante)

A taste of summertime in the French countryside.

"In developing this dish, chef de cuisine David Hodson and his team wanted to celebrate the season's squash and eggplant, while referencing classic Bouchon Bistro recipes," says chef Thomas Keller. "The dish is also a nod to summer in France with its sauce Ravigote: fresh, lightly acidic, and herbaceous to brighten the dish."

You will need:

  • 4 bone-in pork chops, bone-in
  • pork brine (recipe below)
  • sauce Ravigote (recipe below)
  • polenta (recipe below)
  • assortment of squash, sliced into ½ -inch thick medallions

Pork Brine:

  • 12 cups water
  • 2 cups Kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 15 whole peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 20 parsley stems

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to combine the ingredients and dissolve the salt. Remove from heat and cool completely before adding the meat to the brine. Refrigerate the pork in the brine for 10 hours. Rinse and dry the pork before cooking.

Sauce Ravigote:

  • 5 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp shallots, minced
  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ⅜ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅜ cup canola oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped capers
  • 3 tbsp chopped cornichons
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped herbs (parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil)
  • salt to taste

The sauce can be made a few hours in advance and the flavors develop as it sits. Whisk together the mustard, shallot, vinegar, and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in olive oil and canola oil a little at a time to emulsify. Add the chopped cornichons and capers. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt if necessary. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Mix in the chopped herbs just before serving to preserve their freshness and color.

Polenta:

  • 1 cup coarsely ground polenta, rinsed well
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large Italian eggplant
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups mascarpone
  • 8 oz. Ossau Iraty or Pecorino cheese, grated
  • lemon juice to taste
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste

Begin making the polenta about two hours before you intend to serve. In a large pot over medium-low heat, bring the polenta, stock, milk, and garlic to a simmer, slowly whisking until homogenous. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking until the grains are tender, 1 - 1½ hours.

While polenta is cooking, poke holes in the whole eggplant with a fork. Cover the skin lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over high heat, rotating often, until the skin is charred and the eggplant will no longer hold its shape. Remove from the grill and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

Scoop out the roasted eggplant flesh, place in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. When polenta is cooked, remove from heat and take off the lid; cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in the butter, eggplant puree, and mascarpone. Add the cheese and whisk to incorporate completely. Check the seasoning and adjust with lemon juice and salt, as needed. Cover and keep warm.

Method:

  1. Dress brined pork chops with olive oil and season with salt. Cook on grill over high heat for a few minutes each side until the internal temperature reaches medium.
  2. Dress the squash with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over high heat until tender.
  3. To serve, place a few spoonfuls of eggplant polenta on each plate. Arrange the grilled squash over the polenta. Place a pork chop on each plate and cover with a generous amount of the Ravigote Sauce.

Wine Pairing:

Bouchon Beverage Director Sean Dawson recommends pairing the pork dish with a rosé, like the 2017 Soliste Soleil Rouge Rose de Pinot Noir, which is currently being offered on Bouchon's Summer of Rosé menu, running now through September 22 (order a bottle of featured rosé, get a complimentary hors' d'oeuvre).

"With the arrival of summer, we decided to pair a rosé, something crisper and more refreshing than a heavy red. The Soliste Soleil Rouge, a full-bodied, domestic rosé of pinot noir, pairs well with grilled meats due to its rich texture from barrel aging," says Dawson.


// Bouchon Bistro, 6534 Washington St. (Yountville), thomaskeller.com/bouchonyountville

Jordan Winery's Grilled Sunchoke, Fennel and Prawn

(Courtesy of Jordan Winery)

A seafood starter they'll never see coming.

"The skin of the sunchoke takes on all the char and character of the grill brought into balance by the sweet and nutty starch beneath," says Knoll.

Don't want to use prawns? Knoll says you can substitute. "I use aquaculture prawns from Hawaii for this recipe, but I have served this as a simply prepared base with Dungeness crab, spot prawns, and even local halibut."

Note: This recipe is a doozy, so carefully read through the whole thing before starting, which you may want to do the night before.


You will need:

  • 13-15 prawns (recipe below)
  • grilled fennel (recipe below)
  • 2 tbsp "popped" quinoa (recipe below)
  • ½ cup lemon coriander vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 6 grilled sunchokes (recipe below)
  • ½ cup baby arugula
  • 1 tbsp sel gris
  • fresh black pepper to taste

Lemon Coriander Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tbsp shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp white coriander, toasted and crushed
  • 1 tbsp sweet white miso
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a non-reactive bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients but the oil. Slowly drizzle the olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Reserve.

Grilled Sunchokes:

  • 6 sunchokes (choose the larger tubers)
  • 6 tsp lemon coriander vinaigrette
  • 6 tbsp sel gris
  • fresh black pepper to taste

Heat grill to medium high. Pierce the sunchokes 4 - 5 times with a skewer or paring knife to prevent bursting while on the grill. Turning frequently, grill the sunchokes on all sides until lightly charred and give to slight pressure (20-40 minutes). Remove individually as they are done. While still hot, carefully slice the sunchokes open and push the sides together, exposing the interior. Season while hot with 1 tsp of the vinaigrette, a pinch of sel gris, and a turn of the pepper mill. Reserve.

Grilled Fennel:

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • fresh black pepper to taste

Maintain grill at medium-high heat. Peel the thick, outer layer from the fennel bulb and carefully slice on a mandoline, approximately 2 mm. thick. Place the slices in acidulated ice water (ice water with 1 tbsp of lemon juice). When ready to grill, remove the fennel from the water and pat dry. Reserve the water.

Lightly toss fennel in a bowl with 2 tsp of olive oil and black pepper. Place the fennel on the hottest part of the grill and allow the fennel to smoke for approximately one minute. Turn and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Remove the fennel and quickly plunge into the reserved acidulated water to arrest cooking and refresh. Remove from the water, pat dry, and toss in a bowl with the remaining lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.

Prawns:

  • 1 tsp fennel pollen
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup fennel frond, chopped
  • 13-15 shell-on prawns or jumbo shrimp, deveined

In a non-reactive bowl, combine all ingredients but the prawns. Once combined, add the prawns to the bowl and allow to marinate for 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Lightly oil and grill over medium high heat for 2 - 3 minutes per side. Remove from the grill, plate, cover, and allow prawns to chill in the refrigerator until it's time to plate.

Popped Quinoa:

  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups grapeseed oil

Rinse quinoa under cold water and drain. In a medium pot over high heat, add the quinoa and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until there is a white edge. Drain and discard any remaining liquid.

Dehydrate the quinoa on a Silpat lined baking sheet (or silicone baking mat) in a low oven or food dehydrator at 145 degrees for 2 - 3 hours. Heat the oil in a fryer or small saucepan with high sides to 375 degrees. Fry the quinoa for 15-20 seconds and drain on paper towels. Quinoa may be prepared the day prior.

Method:

  1. Peel the prawns, leaving the head and tail on.
  2. In a large bowl, toss with the sunchokes, arugula, fennel, quinoa, and remaining vinaigrette.
  3. On a plate, place a few leaves of the arugula and fennel salad topped with one sunchoke.
  4. Arrange two prawns over each of the plated sunchokes and garnish with the remaining salad.
  5. Season with sel gris and fresh black pepper.

Wine Pairing:

Knoll serves this dish at the winery with the current release of Jordan chardonnay.

"Chargrilling the sunchokes and prawns elevates the subtle oak notes in the wine," he says. "The smoky grill flavor mirrors the toast of the barrels used to age Jordan Chardonnay, so it's more of a complement versus contrast food pairing."


// Jordan Winery, 1474 Alexander Valley Rd. (Healdsburg), jordanwinery.com

The Girl & The Fig’s Grilled Fig and Arugula Salad

(Courtesy of The Girl & The Fig)

Nobody does figs better than this downtown Sonoma staple.

The Girl & The Fig has been making this recipe for more than 20 years, basically since their inception.

"It still continues to capture our simple philosophy about food. Every bite offers a melody of flavor, texture, sweet, and salty with an homage to the Sonoma terroir and the 'FIG'-centric heart of the restaurant," says Bernstein.

"When we grill the fresh figs with the 'pancetta oil', it basically caramelizes the fig and gives it the sweet-salty component. The toasted pecans give the salad a nice earthy crunch, as does the crispy pancetta.. The Fig & Port Vinaigrette pulls it all together with the acidity from the vinegar and the sweetness from the figs."

Note: You can make this dish year-round. If fresh figs are not in season, Bernstein suggests substituting good-quality, moist dried figs. "Orchard's Choice figs are my favorite," she says. "I do not recommend grilling dried figs. Just cut them into small pieces and toss with the other salad ingredients."


You will need:

  • ½ cup pancetta, diced
  • 12 fresh figs, halved
  • 6 bunches baby arugula
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup goat cheese, crumbled (Bernstein recommends Laura Chenel Chévre)
  • 1¼ cups Fig & Port Vinaigrette (recipe below) or purchase The Girl & The Fig's Fig & Port Vinaigrette online
  • ground black pepper to taste

Fig & Port Vinaigrette:

  • 3 dried black mission figs
  • 1 cup ruby port
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ tbsp minced shallots
  • ¼ cup blended oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pour the port in a bowl, add the figs, and re-hydrate until soft. Transfer the port and figs to a saucepan. Reduce the port over medium heat to ½ cup, about 5 - 7 minutes. Transfer the port mixture to a food processor and add the vinegar. Purée until smooth. Add the shallots and slowly whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

  1. Sauté the pancetta in a small pan over medium heat until the pancetta is crisp.
  2. Set the pancetta aside, reserving the oil.
  3. Brush the figs with the reserved pancetta oil. Grill the figs for 45 seconds on each side.
  4. In a stainless steel bowl, toss the arugula, pecans, pancetta, and goat cheese with the vinaigrette.
  5. To serve, divide the salad among chilled plates and surround it with the grilled figs.

Wine Pairing:

"This salad is very versatile with the wide range of flavors that the ingredients offer," says Bernstein. "It gives you an opportunity to pair the salad with a nice selection of wines, like a dry, medium-bodied and aromatic white Rhone varietal or blend, a light dry rosé, or a very light style grenache or cinsault."

Here are her wine picks for pairing with this dish:

Sonoma Roadside 2017 Roussanne, Bonofiglio Vineyards, Mendocino

Jeff Cohn Cellars 2016 The First Date

Mathis 2017 Rosé of Grenache, Sonoma Valley

Frick, 2014 Cinsault, Dry Creek Valley


// The Girl & The Fig, 110 West Spain St. (Sonoma), thegirlandthefig.com

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