John Taylor
 
January 13, 2021 | John Taylor

Delicious Meatless Monday Food & Wine Ideas With Food Writer Karista Bennett

Are you starting off 2021 with a resolution to eat healthier? One terrific way to start building healthy habits into your weekly regimine is to practice Meatless Monday. Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diet, not only for their health but for the health of the planet. The campaign was started in 2003 by Sid Lerner, the Founder of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

Foregoing meat one day a week doesn't have to mean dull dinners with a side order of deprevation. And most importantly, it doesn't mean you have to go without the wine (unless you're doing Dry January, and after the events of last year, believe me, we're not). To prove the point, we turned to our good friend, food writer Karista Bennett. She's the chef behind the wildly-popular food blog and the author of The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook: 101 Homegrown Recipes From The Pacific Wonderland. 

"Meat doesn't have to be the center of every meal," Karista told us. "There are so many amazing flavors and textures to explore, and so many delicious ways to eat healthier!"

Karista shared with us three of her favorite meatless recipes from her new cookbook, and it's our pleasure to present them to you, paired with three of the most delicious varietals Cultivar Wine has to offer:

Lemon Risotto with Crispy Mushrooms and Herbs

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
1 3-inch sprig of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 2-inch piece of parmesan cheese rind (optional but it makes the broth taste delicious)
For the mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh seasonal mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
A squeeze of fresh lemon
 
For the Risotto
 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
½ yellow onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 medium lemon, zested
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

In a soup pot over low heat, add the chicken broth, fresh thyme, bay leaf and parmesan cheese rind. Heat the broth to a very slow simmer.

Prepare the mushrooms. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot add the mushrooms and sauté until slightly browned and a little crispy. Then stir in the minced garlic, fresh chopped herbs and squeeze of lemon. Take the skillet off the heat and season lightly with a bit of salt and pepper. Reserve.

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter. Then stir in the diced onion and cook until slightly wilted. Stir in the garlic and rice and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

Add the wine and stir until the wine is almost absorbed. Next stir in about 1 cup of the simmering chicken broth (don’t add the herbs or parmesan) and continue to stir constantly until the liquid is almost absorbed.

Continue to repeat this process with ½ cup of broth at a time, stirring consistently and allowing each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next ½ cup. This process should take about 20-30 minutes or until the rice is almost tender, al dente.

When the risotto is done, take it off the heat and stir in the grated parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons butter and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the risotto into four bowls and top each bowl with the crispy mushrooms and herbs. Serve immediately.

Pair it with: 2018 Cultivar Wine Chardonnay, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley.

Sprinkled with notes of ginger, toast, honey, and butter-baked apples, this Chardonnay with the rich, cheesy texture of the risotto.

Rustic Leek Tart with Lemon Thyme Ricotta

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or 4 as an entrée

Ingredients

5-6 small to medium leeks
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
8 ounces whole milk ricotta, drained
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves coarsely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh grated parmesan
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 egg
1 teaspoon of cold water
Options for garnish: Handful of pea shoots, watercress, arugula or edible flowers dressed in a little olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Whisk together the ricotta, lemon zest, fresh thyme leaves, garlic and parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reserve.

Trim the root ends of the leeks but be sure not to cut the ends completely off as we want the leeks to stay together during cooking.   Then trim the leeks just at the point where the leeks turn to pale green.  Slice each leek in half lengthwise. 

Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Just as the butter melts and the butter/oil mixture is hot, add the leeks cut side down.  Place a lid over the skillet, turning the heat to medium low if needed and cook for about 2-3 minutes.  With tongs, gently turn the leeks once and let them cook another 2-3 minutes until soft and wilted.

Take the pan off the heat and reserve.  Next, line a baking sheet with parchment and brush the parchment with a little oil.  Unfold the puff pastry and place it on the parchment. Roll it out just a bit, to smooth out the seams, but not too much as puff pastry needs to be ¼” to 1/3” thick to puff.  Pierce the puff pastry with a fork several times in all corners and the middle of the pastry. 

Spread the ricotta evenly over the pastry, leaving a one-inch border on all sides. Place the butter braised leeks evenly over the ricotta.

Whisk together the egg and cold water to make an egg wash. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash and then place the baking pan in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

Remove the pastry from the oven and let it cool slightly before slicing.

Garnish with a handful of lemon juice and olive oil dressed pea shoots, watercress, arugula, carrot swirls or edible flowers. Serve warm.

Pair it with: The 2019 Cultivar Wine Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley.
We recommend using Caspar Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Leeks, puff pastry and ricotta call for a wine with a bright acid to bring out the flavors and clear the pallate. With its notes of citrus fruit and melon, our Sauvignon Blanc make the perfect accompanyment to this delicious, savory tart.

Got a Meatless Monday recipe you love? Share it with us on our Facebook page!

About Karista Bennett:
Chef, Food Writer & Author | Girl Mama and Cattle Dog Wrangler | Creating fresh ingredient recipes

"I’ve always had a poetic view of food. Hunger-enticing aromas swirling about my place at the table and causing a most soul-filled joy. With the first bite, I pause, relishing the beauty of the flavors dancing on my tongue. Food is the element that brings us to the table, where life is lived and memories are made. " Karista Bennett

Time Posted: Jan 13, 2021 at 8:45 AM
John Taylor
 
December 26, 2020 | John Taylor

Food & Wine Tips For A Festive New Years Day Brunch

We are full of enthusiasm and excitement for 2021! Our plan is to kick off New Years Day with the first epic brunch of the year. To start the day, we'll take a brisk walk in the morning to get motivated and think about what the perfect kickoff brunch of 2021 will look like!

At Cultivar SF, our San Francisco restaurant, we're big fans of brunch, so we'd love to share with you some of our favorite dishes to help get your creative juices flowing. As the name suggests, brunch is like a combination of breakfast and lunch, using a mixture of ingredients we traditionally associate with one or the other. We look at brunch as a combination of light & heavy and sweet & savory. It doesn't have to be super fancy: a Farmers Market Omelette and Applewood-Smoked Bacon with Challuah French Toast is the perfect example of something simple you can make at home. 

But wait - every good brunch starts with Bellinis or mimosas! We love a delicious, seasonal Pomegranate Mimosa like the one pictured above, but we think our new Sparkling Wine makes an amazing Pear Mimosa. Just add 3/4-cup pear nectar to 1 bottle Cultivar Wine's Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine and you have a slightly-sweet, delicious spin on the mimosa. And who can say no to the classic Peach Bellini? We like to make a peach puree by scratch simply peel & pit your peaches, toss them in a blender and blend until smooth (at this time of year you can use frozen peach slices) and add the chilled puree to our Sparkling Wine.

Here's another example of how simple can blend with imaginative. A classic plate of Fried Eggs, Bacon and Rustic Bread paired with Polenta, Poached Egg and Shrimp. And if you're looking for a brunch entree that warm you up and fill you up at the same time, try a Croque Madame or Huevos Rancheros. Pair that with a bottle of 2019 Cultivar Wine Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and you're on your way to one happy 2021!

Pasta is also a perfect dish for brunch. It's filling, it's easy and above all, it's versatile. Try a simple angel hair tossed with roma tomatoes, Caspar Estate Olive Oil, basil, capers and top it with shaved Parmesean cheese. If you're feeling more daring, try something like this Wild Mushroom Raviloi we created at Cultivar SF. Pasta is also a perfect dish to serve for your friends who love a lighter red wine, like our Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir or even our Oak Knoll Cabernet Franc.

And don't forget the salad! Salads can even be the main course in a brunch. We think a great salad should be inspired by the seasonal fruits and vegetables available in your area. One of our favorites is this Pomegranate and Persimmon Salad with Avocado and Bleu Cheese. Mix greens, goat cheese, candied walnuts and champagne vinagrette. Candied walnuts give it an added touch of sweetness, and our 2018 Cultivar Oak Knoll Chardonnay compliments all the flavors at once.

We'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy 2021, and we hope that the New Year brings you fun, travel and more days spent with the ones you love!

Time Posted: Dec 26, 2020 at 8:00 AM
John Taylor
 
December 16, 2020 | John Taylor

Why Sparkling Wine Is The Most Versatile Wine For The Holidays

The Holiday Season calls for sparkling wine! Whether it’s a French Champagne, an Italian Prosecco or a delicious Napa Valley Sparkling Wine, bubbles are the go-to pour for parties, dinners and the big toast on New Year’s Eve.

As a small, sibling-owned winery, Cultivar Wine cherishes the times when our family can be together, and we’ve been proud to have our wines be a part of Holiday celebrations. That’s why it only made sense that we create a sparkling wine for the holidays. The Cultivar Wine Blanc de Noirs, Coombsville, Napa Valley, is now available in our online store in time for your celebrations!

To create our very first sparkling wine, we sourced pinot noir from vines planted in the early 1960’s in Coombsville, a beautiful sub-appellation on the southern tip of Napa cooled by the San Pablo Bay. We crafted this sparkling wine from 100% pinot noir using traditional champagne production methods. It was aged on yeast for two years and then spent another year aging in the bottle.

The result? A delightful, fine-bubbled sparkler that embraces its pinot noir heritage. The woodsy notes of earth, mushroom and fresh baked bread mingle with subtle tones of rosemary, maple and elderberry to create a wine with distinct character. We believe this makes our sparkling wine not only perfect for parties, toasts and celebrations, but to pair with your Holiday entrees as well.

In fact, a great sparkling wine may be the most versatile wine for the Holidays. Hearty, winter dishes call for a wine with enough brightness and acid to cleanse the palate, yet be light enough to enjoy through the whole meal and the whole evening. Sparkling wine is perfect for this, and makes a great accompaniment to turkey, chicken and crab (it’s crab season!) along with a wide assortment of side dishes.

And don’t forget, sparkling wine can be the foundation of some amazing and delicious Holiday cocktails! After our team tasted our new Blanc de Noirs, we decided that these four cocktails would be perfect with our new sparkling wine:

Apple Cider Mimosa

This fun take on the classic Mimosa is a perfect complement to the earthy notes of our Blanc de Noirs:

Ingredients:

• 4 oz. Cultivar Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine
• 2 oz. all-natural apple cider
• 1 oz. cinnamon whiskey
• 1 slice of apple, for garnish

Directions

Mix cider and cinnamon whiskey in a champagne flute. Top with Cultivar Blanc de Noirs, then stir lightly until incorporated. Garnish with an apple slice.

 

Air Mail

Sweet & savory mingle with this one, and it’s perfect with our Caspar Estate Wildflower Honey.

Ingredients:

• 2 oz. golden rum
• 1/2 oz. lime juice
• 1 tsp. Caspar Estate honey
• 5 oz. Cultivar Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine

Directions:

Mix rum, lime juice, and honey thoroughly with cracked ice in a chilled cocktail shaker, then pour unstrained into a Collins glass. Fill with Cultivar Wine Blanc de Noirs. 


Nora-Schlesinger

Rosemary Champagne Spritz

Rosemary simple syrup brings out the woodsy & herbaceous notes of the pinot noir grapes in this delicious recipe.

Ingredients:

• 1 tbl. Rosemary Simple Syrup
• 3 oz. gin
• 3 oz. grapefruit juice

 

Directions:

Make the simple syrup by combining ½ cup sugar, ½ cup water and a small bunch or rosemary in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and then let cool. Combine a tablespoon of syrup, the gin and grapefruit juice and stir. Top with Cultivar Wine Blanc de Noirs and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Barbotage

Cognac, Grand Marnier and Cultivar Blanc de Noirs? Now that’s a Holiday cocktail!

Ingredients:

• 1/2 oz. cognac
• 1 tsp. Grand Marnier
• 4 oz. sparkling wine

Directions:

Pour cognac (or another brandy) and Grand Marnier into a champagne flute. Top up with Cultivar Wine Blanc de Noirs.


ioan-f

However you choose to celebrate, we’re hope you’re able to do so with family, friends and loved ones, and that your New Year is happy, safe and joyous. Cheers!

Photo credits, by order: Bob McClenahan, Quinten Rude, Nora Schlesinger, ioan-f.

Time Posted: Dec 16, 2020 at 11:31 AM
John Taylor
 
December 3, 2020 | John Taylor

Food & Wine For The Holidays: Our Best Red Meat & Red Wine Pairings

Food & Wine For The Holidays: Our Best Red Meat & Red Wine Pairings

It’s a pairing as traditional as the Holidays: red meat and red wine. During the season, this classic combination is celebrated as friends and family gather to create feasts from time-honored family recipes: traditional dishes like Standing Rib Roast au Jus, Prime Rib, Lamb Chops Provencal and Slow-Smoked Tri Tip.

As a family-owned winery, we’re thankful to have our wines be a part of these meals. And as a Napa-based winery, we’re blessed to be able to grow some of the finest cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and cabernet franc in the world. Here are our recommendations for red meat and red wine pairings that will make your Holiday dinners memorable and delicious.

Red Wine and Rib Roast and Prime Rib

Nothing quite says Christmas Dinner like a classic Standing Rib Roast aus Jus. Whether you go bone-in or bone-out, rib roast is one of the most tender and flavorful cuts you can cook. For this rich meal, we recommend our 2016 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, Leaky Lake Vineyard, Napa Valley. Grown just up the hill from Caspar Estate, it is perhaps our boldest cabernet, with a long, lingering finish and tannins that compliment prime rib.

And speaking of Caspar Estate, Christmas is a great time to go all-out on our Estate wines. The 2018 Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a stellar pairing with prime rib and rib roast. This wine is sold only by allocation - if you’d like to get on the list, click here.

Finally, another great pairing with a rib roast is our 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Valley. Though still young, it’s powerful yet balanced - it has all the structure of a classic Napa cabernet, but perhaps a little more refinement than the Leaky Lake. 

Red Wine and Lamb

Another traditional Holiday staple, lamb is a meat with delicious versatility but certainty more subtlety than a rib roast. Our favorite pairing with lamb is our 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Franc, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley. With its fruit-forward profile, bright acid and soft tannins, it pairs beautifully with any style, from Mustard-Crusted Lamb Chops to Rosemary Leg of Lamb. 

If you’re as much a fan of 100% cabernet franc as we are, get on the allocation list for the Caspar Estate Cabernet Franc. We recently opened the cellar and re-released the 2014 vintage of this spectacular wine to our wine club!

Of course, fans of cabernet will tell you lamb pairs wonderfully with a good cab. We suggest our 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa County. Perhaps the softest of our cabernets, it won’t overwhelm your more delicate lamb entrees.

Red Wine and Tri Tip

The tri-tip is a cut that was born in our home state of California, where butchers in Santa Maria (along the central coast) carved this 5-pound cut from the subprimal sirloin. The tri-tip has since gained popularity nationwide. You can prepare it seared for a few minutes on each side, then into a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes for medium-rare perfection. Or you may prefer it smoked for about 6 hours.

If you need the perfect pairing with a smokey meat, you can’t go wrong with a wine like our 2019 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Pinot’s have an inherent earthiness that brings out the flavor of smoked meats. Some might think that a pinot noir isn’t bold enough to stand up to a fatty sirloin cut like a tri-tip, but the cold, moist air blown in from the sea near Santa Lucia (on the central coast of California, by the way) creates a pinot noir that’s both lucious and powerful.

If you’re grilling that tri-tip instead, pair it with the Cultivar Wine 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. This vintage falls right in the middle between our most subtle and most bold cabernets.

Gift Boxes for The Holidays

If you’re looking for these wines or perhaps some white wines for your Holiday meals and to give as gifts, we invite you to shop our Holiday Gift Collection at our Online Store. Whether you’re looking for the perfect selection for the wine lover in your family or for delightful stocking stuffers, we have a little something for everybody. If you want to take advantage of our flat rate ground shipping, please order by December 15th. For last minute gift selections, we offer 2-Day shipping for orders placed by December 20th. We can also offer Cultivar Wine Gift Cards in a variety of denominations that you can send or download anytime online! 

Whether you’re enjoying the Holidays with your whole family, or you find yourself keeping the party more intimate this year, all of here at Cultivar Wine & Caspar Estate wish you and yours a joyous Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year!

 

Time Posted: Dec 3, 2020 at 12:42 PM
Eden Hensley
 
December 1, 2020 | Eden Hensley

Choosing Wine For Chanukah

Ready for the holidays? This year, who isn’t? Unlike past years, 2020’s holiday season will be more intimate with less extended family and less celebrations with friends. But that’s no reason to skimp!

We’ll be celebrating Chanukah with flair. That means lots of hearty, comfort food; Cultivar wine; and treats! Chanukah this year is before Christmas: December 10 through December 17, 2020. (If you celebrate both holidays you have a month of non-stop celebration from Thanksgiving through to Christmas!) 

Jewish holidays start at sundown. So, the first night you light your Chanukah menorah is at sundown on the first day. For 2020, you’ll light the candle for the first night (rightmost candle from the center candle—the Shammash or helper candle in your menorah) on December 10th.

Traditional Chanukah Foods

Chanukah celebrates the reconsecration of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Macabees expelled the Greeks. When they went to light the menorah on the new altar, they found only enough oil for one day. They used the oil they found, and the menorah stayed illuminated for not one, but eight days.

To commemorate the miracle of the oil, we eat lots of fried foods. The most popular of these foods are latkes or potato pancakes and sufganiyot or jelly-filled donuts. Luckily, latkes make a great side dish for brisket.

Pairing Wines with Chanukah Brisket
Brisket, in my opinion, is one of the best Jewish holiday staples. It’s filling. It looks harder to cook than it really is. And best of all? It pairs with so many Cultivar wines.

Our favorite Cultivar reds for our Slow Cooker Chanukah Brisket, which we typically eat for the night of Chanukah that falls on Shabbat (December 11th this year) are:

2018 Cultivar Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
2016 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Leaky Lake Vineyard

If you like savoring your wine and have some left for your dessert, you can even enjoy some 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Leaky Lake Vineyard with Graham Cracker Toffee Treats. When preparing your treats be sure to use a 1:1 mix of bittersweet, dark chocolate with your chocolate chips when coating your caramel-soaked graham crackers. This gives your treats a little bite and doesn’t overwhelm your wine.

Pairing Wines with a Cheesy Repast
Because Chanukah lasts eight nights there are lots of opportunities to eat good food and drink great wine. One another night we celebrate Judith, who according to lore was either the aunt or daughter of Judah Maccabee, the hero of the Chanukah oil story.

 

During the siege of her town of Bethulia in Israel, Judith met with the Assyrians’ general, Holofernes. She served him food—cheese—to make him thirsty and drink more wine. After he drank a lot and passed out, Judith took his sword and cut off his head. The Israelites inspired by his severed head attacked and the Assyrians fled.

We’re not Kosher, but for holidays we like to observe some of the basic guidelines: no pork; no shellfish; and no mixing of dairy and meat. Rather than make sure we have an hour between when we nibble on cheesy goodness before diving into our brisket, we just celebrate Judith on a different night.

As Judith probably served cheeses made from either goat or sheep’s milk, we put together a cheese plate with Goat Gouda, Goat Cheese, and Goat Brie. Along with the cheese plate are fresh from the oven Pomegranate Pips, Pecan with Goat Cheese and Persimmon with Goat Brie stuffed dates. For our main, we typically enjoy Pecorino Romano, Panko Crusted Baked Eggplant.

The best part of this meal? Both white wine and red wine drinkers will be happy.
Our favorite Cultivar wines for our celebration of Judith are:
2019 Cultivar Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley
2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County
2019 Cultivar Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands

We serve our eggplant with lemon slices, puttanesca, goat cheese crumbles, and fig balsamic vinegar on the side. Depending on which Cultivar wine our guests are enjoying they can finish the main to match.

We recommend freshly squeezed lemon with the 2019 Cultivar Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley; puttanesca with either the 2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County or 2019 Cultivar Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands; goat cheese crumbles with drizzled fig balsamic vinegar with the 2019 Cultivar Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands.


Eden Hensley Silverstein is a third-generation Californian, who has been feeding her family, friends, and soon-to-be friends around her kitchen table since she was in third grade. Along with her husband, 8.5 year old daughter, and Maine Coon/Ragamuffin rescue cat, she makes 849 sq ft a welcoming home in The Mission. They share recipes and misadventures on The Road to the Good Life.

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with the Cultivar wines for free by Cultivar SF for tasting and pairing. All opinions are my own. The links in this post are not affiliate links. I simply like the wines and wanted to make it easy for you to learn more about Cultivar and the wines. Some of the wines are only available through the Cultivar Wine Club. If you’re in SF, I highly recommend considering it as you can pick up your wines at Cultivar SF and enjoy tasty bites at their release parties.
Time Posted: Dec 1, 2020 at 8:09 AM
Gingy Gable
 
November 20, 2020 | Gingy Gable

Farm to Table, Caspar Estate & The French Laundry

The French Laundry by Thomas Keller is known for surpassing expectations with their excellent and amazing food, impeccable service. Everything is done to perfection including their stunning gardens across the street. The organic gardens are an inspiration and attracting visitors to see the beautifully manicured herbs, vegetables and fruit.

 

https://vimeo.com/479060208

Up the hill and further up the Napa Valley sits Caspar Estate. We are blessed with syrpentine soil and the ability to abundantly grow heirloom tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, carrots, beets, peppers, kale, brocolini, onions, cucumbers, lemon verbena, persimmons, pomegranates, melons and many herbs. The raspberries, blackberries, table grapes and figs are so delicious straight off the vine.There are some vegetables that require more coaxing and attention. While our organically grown vegetables are modeled after the French Laundry gardens we more casual and relaxed.

 

We are proud to announce that our 2019 Caspar Estate Sauvignon Blanc is now being served at The French Laundry. Be sure to order it the next time you enjoy a meal there! Cheers!


photo courtesy of TiffWang

Cheers!

Time Posted: Nov 20, 2020 at 5:56 AM
Eden Hensley
 
November 17, 2020 | Eden Hensley

The Perfect Brisket (And Wine) For A Perfect Chanukah

 

Holiday gatherings this year are going to be a little different especially depending on where you live. We’re in San Francisco, and since March 2020 we’ve been sheltering in place. With a vaccine for COVID-19 still under development, we’ll be celebrating Chanukah with just our immediate family. And we’ll be enjoying a mouthwatering brisket that’s perfectly sized for our family of 3. 

There are tons of recipes for entertaining hordes on the Internet. Few explain how one might make a brisket for themselves and their partner. This recipe is for an intimate Chanukah dinner—a couple, two roommates, a parent and a teen, a parent and two littles.

This recipe is the result of years of research, experimentation, and troubleshooting. So, rather than simply modifying another recipe - a hit or miss proposition at best - give this stress-free recipe a try.

Four Tips for a Mouthwatering Brisket

I’ve found there are four things that increase your odds of serving a mouthwatering meal your family will reminisce fondly about for years to come...and none of them involve browning your brisket before tossing it into the slow cooker. Browning your brisket won’t save your meal if you make one of the following rookie errors:

1. Don’t even proceed with this recipe if your well-meaning butcher trims the fat off your brisket. (It won’t work so don’t even try it; make a lovey beef stew instead.

2. If you can’t find brisket, don’t blindly toss a different cut of meat into your slow cooker. Brisket is the toughest of cuts, so the length of time in the slow cooker is too long for other more expensive cuts like Prime Rib.

3. Cooking on HIGH for half the time will not save you from poor time management skills or lack of planning. Wake up early if you want to eat it the same day you make it; start it the night before to rest when you rise and finish in the oven later; or just make it the day before, let it rest overnight, and finish in the morning.

4. Make sure you have the same size brisket as the recipe. Your liquid-to-meat ratio as well as cooking time won’t be the same if you’re using more or less than 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds of beef brisket. Also, you need one cut that’s 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds. If your portion is less than a pound, chop up and make beef stew.

And now...the recipe!

 

The Ultimate Brisket

This slow cooker recipe doesn’t require you to use your oven or stovetop. You’ll chop your vegetables and toss them, the brisket, and sauces into your slow cooker and basically forget it for a few hours.

Note: Because you’ll flip the brisket halfway through the cooking process, this isn’t a good recipe to start before you go to bed. If you’re planning on eating Chanukah dinner earlier in the day, you can leave it to cook overnight, just flip the brisket in the morning and cook on slow for an additional hour.

Before you start assembling ingredients, we need to chat about cooking with wine. To save money you may be tempted to select a bottle of “cooking wine” from your grocery aisle. Don’t do that. My cousin, a chef, chastised me for doing this years ago. “If you wouldn’t drink a wine, you shouldn’t cook with it.”

Now, this doesn’t mean if you’re serving an expensive bottle that you need to use it for cooking. He recommends choosing the same varietal of wine or in a pinch same color. We enjoyed our brisket with 2016 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Leaky Lake Vineyard ($98) and added Merlot to our brisket in the slow cooker.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

3 yellow gold potatoes, quartered
A bunch of baby carrots, cut in thirds
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pound beef brisket, flat cut
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon soy or tamari sauce
1 1/2 cups beef or mushroom broth
1/2 cup Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon (if you don’t have wine, substitute with broth)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pepper
Salt
1 large yellow or red onion, sliced in half moons
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

Instructions (cooking time: 8-9 hours)

  • Add your potatoes and carrots to your 6.5 Quart Slow Cooker first.
  • Next place your brisket, fat side up, on top of your potatoes and carrots.
  • Pour Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, broth, and wine into your slow cooker.
  • Sprinkle your garlic, pepper, and salt on top of your brisket.
  • Arrange your onions to the side of your brisket.
  • Add your mushrooms on top of everything and close the lid of your slow cooker.
  • Cook on LOW for 8 hours, flipping halfway through cooking time. If you need to cook overnight, flip the brisket when you wake up and cook on LOW for one more hour.
  • Using two turners (tongs will shred your meat), transfer the brisket and vegetables to a 9x13” baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Transfer the broth to a quart container and refrigerate.
  • About an hour before dinner, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Let baking dish with brisket and vegetables come to room temperature. Pour 1/2 pint of reserved broth over the brisket and vegetables.
  • Reheat for 30 to 40 minutes at 300 before serving.

Wine Pairing

Red wine lovers will rejoice when you bring out this brisket. Because of the subtle flavors in this dish, you can easily serve it with Pinot Noir, a well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon, or even a Merlot.

What’s your favorite: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot?

Which of the three reds you pair your Chanukah brisket with will come down to personal tastes (and your side dishes). For me, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy screams Pinot Noir. My husband is partial to Cabernets with beef, so I swapped the mashed potatoes with latkes and delicata squash. We chose the 2016 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Leaky Lake Vineyard over the 2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County to avoid having tannins overwhelm the apple sauce and squash. Don’t fret: the 2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County had its moment in the spotlight when we served our Vegetarian Harvest meal (coming to the blog soon).

Eden Hensley Silverstein is a third-generation Californian, who has been feeding her family, friends, and soon-to-be friends around her kitchen table since she was in third grade. Along with her husband, 8.5 year old daughter, and Maine Coon/Ragamuffin rescue cat, she makes 849 sq ft a welcoming home in The Mission. They share recipes and misadventures on The Road to the Good Life.

Time Posted: Nov 17, 2020 at 2:25 PM
John Taylor
 
November 13, 2020 | John Taylor

Julien Fayard and The Art of Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

What does it take to produce a truly world class Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon? First of all, it takes fruit: grapes grown in that special region that winds around only 2% of the earth's surface and includes the Napa Valley. But just as important, it takes the expert touch of a master winemaker, someone who can combine artistry, chemistry and a little bit of magic into their craft. For Caspar Estate, that winemaker is Julien Fayard.

Julien is a firm believer that the wine is made in the vineyard. He frequently walks the vineyards and checking on the fruit. Our vineyards have several microclimates because of the row layout and the pockets of the hills and valleys. Julien is very selective, starting with the fruit that is ripe - it can be mid row but often it starts at the end of the row on the western side since it gets the most late afternoon sunlight.

On September 23rd, 2020, Julien supervised the harvest of several tons of our estate cabernet sauvignon, grown on slopes located above the Rutherford Bench in Napa. It was a gorgeous day, producing equally gorgeous fruit. 

The fruit was quickly transported to Fayard Winemaking, Julien's custom winemaking facility at the south end of the valley. This is where the first, critical steps of the process will occur, though as Julien says, it's not the most important part: "Winemaking begins in the vineyard." Julien’s wines are a pure expression of Caspar Estate terroir, highlighting the characteristics of the fruit, vineyard management, soil and climate.