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Decadent recipes to go with Zinfandel
Spiced Zinfandel & Fig Compote
Yield: 2 cups
8 ounces dried Mission figs
4 oz dried pluots (or a mixture of other tart dried fruits, such as apricots or prunes)
4 oz raisins (preferably non-sulfured organic varieties)
3 cups Zinfandel (red)
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cloves
1 1-inch cinnamon stick
1/3 cup honey
juice of one lemon
sea salt to taste

Procedure: Dice all the dry fruit into small pieces and place in a non-reactive sauce pan. Add the Zinfandel and bay leaf and allow to sit for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, put the pan on the stove over medium to high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down and continue cooking until the wine has reduced to a syrupy consistency. While the wine is reducing, put the remaining spices into a dry sauté pan and toast over medium to high heat. Remove the spices from the sauté pan and put into a spice grinder (you can use a clean coffee grinder) and grind to a fine mixture. When the wine mixture has completely reduced add the honey, lemon juice, spices and the salt. Mix well and taste the compote to make sure it is balanced. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. The compote can be made up to a week ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature before serving. If it's made the day it will be served, it can be kept at room temperature. Serve the compote in a clear glass bowl if possible, to take advantage of its bright color.

Provided by Chef Mark Dommen
Zinfandel Chocolate Truffles
Yield: About 1 dozen
8 oz.cream
2-1/2 tablespoons honey
8 oz.bittersweet chocolate
1-1/2 oz.butter,unsalted,room temperature
1/2 bottle of zinfandel
3 tablespoons unsweetened cacao

Put the Zinfandel into a saucepan and reduce over high heat until you have 1 Tbsp.Zinfandel reduction,set aside.Be careful with the wine reduction,and make sure you do not scorch the sides of the saucepan;it will give the truffles an off flavor.Meanwhile,chop chocolate into very small pieces,ranging in size from a 1/4-1/2 inch.Put cream and honey in another saucepan,bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate.Cover and allow to sit about 5 min.or until chocolate is melted.After chocolate has melted,add butter in small pieces and stir until smooth.Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and mix in Zinfandel reduction.Allow mixture to cool 30 min.,then refrigerate until it’s set,approxi- mately 1-2 hours.

Using a very small ice cream scoop or a melon baller,scoop out the truffles from the mixture and put them on a plate.Working with truffle mixture will make them soft—put truffles back in the refrigerator for approximately 15 min. in order to set-up again.Next,put the cacao in a small dish or in a ziplock bag and roll each truffle one by one until it is completely covered.Arrange on a plate and ser ve.Truffles are best eaten at room temperature. Truffles can keep at least a week in the refrigerator,in an airtight container.If the cacao disappears,it means it has been absorbed by the moisture in the refrigerator—simply re-roll them in fresh cacao and they will have a fresh look.

Provided by Chef Mark Dommen

Zinfandel Risotto with Duck Confit and Wild Mushrooms
Serves 8 appetizer portions or 4 main course portions
1 lb. wild mushrooms, assorted
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 shallots, minced
10 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups carnaroli risotto rice
5 cups chicken stock
1 bottle Zinfandel wine
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 bunch garlic chives, chopped
4 duck legs, cooked confit style
1 bay leaf
4 oz. Reggiano parmesan cheese, grated

Pour the bottle of Zinfandel into a non-reactive saucepot and reduce the wine over medium to high heat until 1/4 cup is all that is left. Set aside. Meanwhile, clean the mushrooms removing any dirt that may be attached. If you cannot find wild mushrooms, an assort-ment of domestic mushrooms would make a good substitute. After the mushrooms are cleaned cut them into smaller uniform pieces; the size doesn’t really matter as long as they are all the same size, which allows them to cook evenly. In a large sauté pan over high heat, add one tablespoon of grape seed oil and then half of the mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to begin to caramelize slightly then start to move them around in the pan. Season them with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. After all the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, the sauté pan will begin to look dry, add 1 tablespoon of butter, and two sprigs of thyme and continue cooking until the mushrooms have caramelized evenly. (As the but-ter browns, it adds incredible flavor to the mushrooms) Remove the mushrooms onto a plate lined with a paper towel discard the thyme stems and set the mushrooms aside. Repeat this procedure with the remaining mushrooms. Remove duck meat from the bone and break it up into small pieces, discard the bone and any skin, set aside.

Place the stock into a saucepot and bring to a boil. In another large heavy bottom pot, over medium heat, add two tablespoons of butter and allow to melt, then add the chopped shallots. With a wooden spoon stir the shallots until they are translucent, but have no color, approximately 1 minute.Add the risotto rice and continue to cook and sir until the rice is completely coated with the butter. Tie about 4-5 sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf together into a small bouquet using butchers twine and add it to the rice. Add the reduced Zinfandel and continue to stir until the rice has absorbed as much of the wine as possible. Add 1 cup of chicken stock at a time while continuously stirring the risotto until the risotto is cooked “al dente” and the chicken stock has been absorbed. This should take approx. 18-20 minutes; taste a small spoon for doneness.

When the risotto is cooked, add the remaining butter piece by piece and continue to stir until all the butter has been incorporated. Season the risotto with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. (It is important not to season risotto until the end, the addition of salt at the early cooking stages will inhibit the rice’s ability to absorb the liquids evenly.) Remove thyme and bay leaf from the rice and fold in the wild mushrooms, duck meat, and the garlic chives. Mix well.

Divide the risotto among the desired amount of bowls and sprin-kle with a little parmesan cheese if you so desire. Serve immediately.

Note: Risotto should be loose enough to barely hold its shape when plated, if it sits to long before you serve it, it will continue to absorb liquid making it very thick. If this happens to you, just add a little more stock until you have the proper and desired consistency.

Zinfandel and Black Pepper Marinated Tri Tip
Serves 4-6 people
1 Tri Tip approximately 1 to 1-1/2#
4 cups Zinfandel
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh savory
1 clove garlic
1 shallot
6 green cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
sea salt to taste
1 Tbsp. coarse ground fresh
black pepper
1/4 cup honey
fleur de sel to taste

Pour the bottle of Zinfandel into a non-reactive saucepot. Place two cups of Zinfandel into a saucepan and bring to a boil, remove from the stove, and add the thyme, savory, garlic, shallot, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf. Set aside to cool, allowing the flavors to infuse into the Zinfandel.

Meanwhile, rub the tri tip with the coarse ground black pepper. Put the tri tip in a zip lock bag, and when the marinade has cooled, add it to the tri tip and seal the zip lock bag. Marinate for 2-4 hours in the refrigerator.

Place the remaining two cups of Zinfandel into a saucepan and place on the stove over high heat. Reduce it until just a 1/4 of a cup remains; add the honey and season to taste with sea salt. Set aside.

Light the BBQ with mesquite wood and allow the coals to heat up. Remove the tri tip from the marinade and season well with sea salt. Place on the hot grill and cook until the desired doneness.The time will vary depending on the size of the tri tip, the heat of the grill, and the desired doneness you prefer your meat cooked. The last 3-5 minutes before the tri tip is done, brush with the Zinfandel and honey reduction. This will give the meat a nice glaze. Be sure to monitor the heat of the grill, as too high of a heat will cause the honey in the glaze to caramelize very quickly.

Allow the tri tip to rest for at least 10 minutes prior to slicing. Thinly slice across the grain of the meat and sprinkle with a little fleur de sel. Serve immediately.

Click below to skip to the following Zinfandel recipes:
Spiced Zinfandel & Fig Compote
Zinfandel Chocolate Truffles
Zinfandel Risotto with Duck Confit and Wild Mushrooms
Zinfandel and Black Pepper Marinated Tri Tip

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