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Category Archives: Central Valley

Braised Boudin

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We’re having a heat wave in the Bay Area. It got up to 90 degrees in San Francisco yesterday (which is CRAY for SF) and 103 degrees in Napa. Fortunately for me, I was inside my chilled office for the majority of the day. It gets so cold in there that I find myself layering my summer dress with a Pine Ridge fleece that I keep on the back of my chair. Yesterday I even had to step outside for a minute to warm up! I quickly went back inside when I realized my error.

But the heat won’t keep me out of the kitchen! I purchased some rabbit boudin from Fatted Calf about a month ago when I had some friends in town. We were going to grill them with a bunch of other goodies but I decided the rabbit was unnecessary, so in the freezer it went. Then last night when I opened the freezer to put my head inside it, I felt beckoned by the tell-tale Fatted Calf sticker. I pulled together some random ingredients that I thought would go well with the flavor of the rabbit, and came up with a delicious braise that I will surely recreate.

Braised Rabbit Boudin with Fennel and Kale (serves 2)

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, fonds removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 purple carrot, halved lengthwise then chopped
  • 2 rabbit boudin, or rabbit sausages
  • 1 TB Dry Sherry
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped Tuscan kale
  • 1 cup cooked white quinoa

Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a large pan. Add shallots and sauté for 1 minute, then add fennel and carrots and continue to sauté for 5 minutes then push to the side of the pan. Add the sausage to the other side of the pan and brown for a few minutes on each side. Add the sherry to the vegetables and sauté to combine.

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Move the sausage to the center of the pan, nestling them into the vegetables. Add chicken broth, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and decrease the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and add the kale. Saute so that the kale is tucked into the rest of the vegetables. Cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until all vegetables are cooked and the chicken broth has reduced to less than 1/4 cup. Serve over quinoa and enjoy!

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Pair this dish with a Central Coast Pinot Noir such as Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Pinot Noir, one of my favorites for the price and a light enough to pair with poultry. Or if it’s too hot to drink red wine – such is my case – you could try a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Chablis or White Rhone blend. I can’t wait to go back to Fatted Calf and figure out more ways to prepare this delicious rabbit boudin! Any suggestions?

A Taste of Paso Robles

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MM and I drove my car from San Francisco to San Diego yesterday – a first for all three of us! We’re staying here for the weekend for one of MM’s triathlons (did I mention he is a successful triathlete?). As part of my involvement in the trip, I selected the route; opting to take 101 S to Paso Robles where we would stop for lunch and maybe a quick wine tasting, then head East to take the 5 S for the rest of the way to Carlsbad. The drive to Paso Robles on 101 was beautiful, with winding roads, Eucalyptus trees, mountains, vineyards and crops – much better than the “cow concentration camps” on The 5.

When we arrived in Paso Robles we had lunch at Artisan, under the personal recommendation of Panini Girl. MM ordered the cheeseburger with russet fries and I ordered the shrimp B.L.T. I can’t speak for MM, but my sandwich was fantastic! I also ordered a side market salad with beets, cucumber, pine nuts, pickled onions and some kind of lemon vinaigrette – very fresh tasting and I loved the dressing. I had a glass of the Silver Horse Albarino; crisp and fruity and paired nicely with the B.L.T. The service was very quick and friendly, and their dessert menu was tempting but MM was being careful about his diet before the big race.

Since our lunch took much less time than expected, and we were already making great time due to our earlier-than-anticipated departure from SF and zero traffic, I convinced MM to let me make a quick stop at Bianchi Winery. After all, it was right off Route 46 and on our way out of Paso Robles. I promised the tasting wouldn’t last more than 20 minutes, so I had some speed tasting to do (and lots of dump bucket usage since I was the driver). We arrived at the tasting room and the space was beautiful, with an expansive deck and a little man-made pond. I had very small tastes of several of their wines: 2010 Pinot Grigio, 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Pinot Noir, 2006 Syrah, 2006 Sangiovese, 2006 Refosco, 2008 Zinfandel, 2006 Syranot (75% Syrah, 25% Pinot), 2010 Moscato (MM’s favorite) and their sparkling wine. I devoted about two minutes to each wine, and MM shared most of the tastes with me.

I didn’t really care for the Sangiovese or Zinfandel (both were too acidic for my taste), but my favorites were the Pinot Grigio, Refosco and Syranot. The Pinot Grigio had a nice depth to it that you don’t normally get with that grape. The Refosco is a rare Italian grape and Bianchi is only one of two wineries that produces it, so I couldn’t pass that up. The Syranot was a rare blend that turned out deliciously – very smooth and full of fruit and spice. I also really enjoyed the Moscato because it wasn’t too sweet and had a lot of potential for light food pairings. I opted to purchase those four, and in the last minute added a bottle of the Pinot Noir to the lot. The prices before my 30% industry discount ranged from $24-$35, so the total was under $100 – hard to resist!

I would love to go back to Paso Robles some day and spend more time visiting the wineries and the downtown area. The town was “legit” in the words of MM, “not in the boonies of Central California.” It was definitely the perfect break for us in the drive, even if it was just a small taste. And now I have quite the selection of wine to enjoy for the rest of the weekend!

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