Saturday, October 2, 2010

Eating Parker: Grilled loin chops

It was time for the annual question:  What should I cook* for my birthday? I had a bottle of a birth-year wine, a 1976 Burgess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I wanted to drink this year, figuring that it wouldn’t get any better at this point, so I needed something that would pair with the wine.

The Spousal Unit and I recently bought a 4-H lamb (named Parker) from the Greene County Fair, so I had a freezer full of choices. I decided to grill some thick loin chops. The farmer’s market yielded local green beans and yukon gold potatoes. I diced the potatoes and coated them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence, and coated the beans with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano. I seasoned the lamb chops with salt, pepper, cumin, and red pepper flakes.

I grilled the potatoes in a basket over direct medium heat; when they became tender, I added the green beans, and put the lamb chops on direct medium heat. I cooked the vegetables and lamb chops for 12 minutes from that point, turning the chops once.

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The lamb was excellent, possibly the most tender meat I’ve ever eaten. The flavor was mild, and the color remarkably light. This was the first meat we had from the lamb, and it was clearly raised and butchered with care.  I look forward to working with the rest of the meat.

The ‘76 Burgess was also excellent. Purchased at $35 from Premier Cru in 2006, this has to be on my “best buys” list. My note:

Decanted off some sediment. Cork intact, seepage halfway up. Medium red with some bricking. Appealing nose of cedar, red fruit, smoked meat. Very nice palate, still with tannic structure, red fruit, herbs. Held up extremely well. Excellent find. (92 points)

I was just hoping it would be drinkable, but it turned out to be a classic, aged Napa cab. I wish I had some more. After this year’s round of birthdays, there’s no more birth-year wines for either of us in the cellar.

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*As an upcoming video review/cooking demonstration will reveal, the Spousal Unit’s cooking prowess is limited, so I do most of the cooking. She did, however, take me to the Copper Fish while were on vacation, which was excellent as always. And my parents took us to the Back Door Café on my birthday, which was also a great dinner. So I can’t complain.

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