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5 of the Best Recipes I Have Ever Found, Paired with Wine

Like a lot of wine enthusiasts, I love cooking. Every weekend I spend a few hours looking for an exciting recipe to cook for my family and friends. I’m not a professional, by any means, but through the years I have discovered some amazing recipes. I am sharing my top-five favorite recipes and the wine a sommelier suggested for each.

Warning: Living in California and having a Mexican wife, I tend to eat a lot of spicy hot food. I love it! So if you’re not someone who likes spicy food, you may not be interested in a few of these recipes (you’ll know). If you are, then you may love these.

Pork Tenderloin with Bacon, Chili Flakes, Toasted Almond and Parsley

In my opinion, Michael Symon is one of the best cooks in the world and this recipe is my favorite of his. He is an Iron Chef, which in and of itself is impressive, but then in one-on-one food competitions he has destroyed the other Iron Chefs –yes, including Bobby Flay! He’s truly an amazing chef.

This recipe is perfectly balanced and unique. I’ve learned through trial and error that sticking very closely to the recipe is important to maintaining the balance.

The recipe below pairs very nicely with a nice chardonnay, according to our resident sommelier.

The recipe is courtesy of Michael Symon and the Cooking Channel


2 tablespoons blended oil, plus more as needed

1 (1 1/2-pounds) pork tenderloin, cut into 2 1/2 to 3-ounce medallions

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 thick slices bacon, cut into lardons

1/4 cup slivered almonds to pan, to toast

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup pitted, chopped dates

1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

About 1/2 cup chicken stock

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 small bunch fresh parsley, leaves picked and chiffonade

Kosher salt


Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons blended oil. Season the medallions with salt and pepper on both sides. Once the oil is heated, add the seasoned pork to 1 side of the pan and sear on both sides, about 2 minutes each side. To the other side of the pan, add the bacon and allow to start to render.

Once the bacon has started rendering and the pork is flipped, add the almonds and butter to toast. Next add the dates, red chili flakes, garlic, chicken stock, lemon zest, and juice. Allow to simmer briefly then remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Taste and season with a pinch of salt, if needed.

Place 2 of the medallions onto a plate and top with the dates, almonds, bacon and drizzle of the sauce.

Spicy Steak

Not all of my favorite recipes came from a professional chef. In fact, my favorite spicy steak recipe came from a very good friend of mine who actually discovered it by accident. He was making two different meals and mixed the two recipes together unintentionally. Turns out, they went together like peanut butter and jelly. The recipe is very spicy, but I believe it is nicely balanced. The best thing about the recipe is that it is VERY easy to prepare and can be used with any kind of steak.

The recipe goes very well with a Zinfandel, which has its fruity profile and lower tannins that balance nicely with the spicy steak.


The Dry Rub

Garlic powder

Lawry’s Season Salt

Cayenne Pepper

The Baste

Soy Sauce (low sodium)

Sesame Oil

Wasabi Paste (tubes sold at your local supermarket)

Chili Garlic Sauce (often found in the Asian Section)


Generously season your steak with the dry rub (garlic powder, Lawry’s season salt, cayenne pepper), preferably the night before. There’s no need for regular salt and pepper. If you prepare the rub the night before, cover the steak with saran wrap or aluminum foil and let sit in refrigerator overnight.

The next day prepare The Baste. The ratio of ingredients are three parts Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil, two parts Chili Garlic Sauce, and one part Wasabi paste.

Lightly brush The Baste onto the steak on both sides. Put steak on a barbecue grille. The Baste has many oils, so be careful not to have flame-ups.

Cook until medium rare, about 4-5 minutes on one side and 3-5 minutes on the other side (with top of grille open).

Spicy Ribs

The same friend who gave me the Spicy Steak recipe gave me the preparation for this recipe. The dry rub and baste was created by yours truly. I admit the ingredients are simple but the key to this recipe is in the preparation and cooking and frankly the acidic baste is a very good compliment to the heaviness of the ribs.

This recipe, according to our resident Sommelier, goes very well with a Gewürztraminer.


Your choice of Beef or Pork Ribs.

The Dry Rub

Garlic powder

Lawry’s Season Salt

Cayenne Pepper

Cumin Powder

Smoked Paprika

Brown Sugar

The Baste

Dijon Mustard


Worcestershire sauce

Brown Sugar

White wine vinegar

Kosher Salt


Tabasco Sauce


Generously season ribs with The Rub the night before. This is more important for this recipe than it is for the spicy steak recipe. Depending on spicy-hot tolerance, add more or less cayenne pepper. Cover ribs with saran wrap or aluminum foil overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

While oven is pre-heating, wrap each rack of ribs in aluminum foil. Wrap the ribs length-wise with two aluminum sheets and then crunch edges together to form an enclosure.

Put ribs in oven. After an hour, and the ribs cooking process is kick-started, turn down the temperature on the oven to 220 degrees and cook for another 6-7 hours.

Right before removing ribs from oven, fire up your barbecue grille to high heat. Using a spatula, carefully remove ribs from aluminum foil enclosure and place on grille, rib side down. BE CAREFUL: THE RIBS WILL LITERALLY BE FALLING OFF THE BONE AND IT IS DIFFICULT TO MOVE TO GRILL WITHOUT TOTAL DISINEGRATION – HENCE THE USE OF A SPATULA.

Quickly put The Baste on the ribs before the oils from the ribs cause major flame-ups.

You should only have the ribs on the rib side down long enough to caramelize that side. Don’t try to flip the ribs to the other side because that will cause major flame-ups an ultimately burn the side of the ribs that you eat. By caramelizing only the bone-side of the ribs, the caramelized flavor from the ribs will permeate the meat – mission accomplished!

If you put the ribs in the oven by mid-morning, you should have the ribs ready for dinner.

Chicken Bryan

The recipe was inspired from a visit to a Carrabba’s Restaurant. I love Italian food that is not a cliché (like spaghetti and lasagna).

The combination in this recipe of grilled chicken, sun dried tomatoes, and the acidity of lemon and Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc is amazing and well balanced.

Pinot Grigio pairs well with this meal. A lot of people use “cooking wine” or less expensive wine for cooking than for drinking but after experimenting with recipes, I do believe using good quality wine for cooking makes a difference. That’s me though. Depending on whether you agree, you may need to buy two different bottle of Pinot Grigio.


Servings Six

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced yellow onion

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup cold butter, sliced

1 1/2 cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature


Sauté garlic and onions in butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Stir wine and lemon juice into the skillet and increase heat to medium high. Simmer until reduced by half.

Reduce heat to low and stir in cold butter, one slice at a time.

Stir in tomatoes, basil, kosher salt, and white pepper; remove from heat and set aside.

Brush chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

Grill chicken over hot coals or on grille for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

A couple of minutes before chicken is done, place equal amounts of goat cheese on each breast Spoon prepared sun-dried tomato sauce over chicken.

Curried Chicken and Dumplings

I saved my favorite recipe for last. The recipe itself seems, quite frankly, like it would be pretty pedestrian but nothing could be further from the truth. This is one of those country home cooking recipes that reminds you of grandma’s cooking.

One suggestion: make sure you get the chickpea flour. If you live by a Whole Foods, you can find it there.

This recipe, according to our resident Sommelier, goes very well with a Gruner Veltliener.

Recipe is courtesy of Carla Hall.


Chicken Preparation

4 – 6 boneless/skinless chicken thighs

1 onion (diced)

3 stalks celery (diced)

3 carrots (diced)

2 Tablespoons curry powder

1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1 Cup chickpeas

4 Cup Swanson’s chicken broth

1 (12 Oz) can coconut milk

Olive oil

Flour for dusting

Salt and Pepper (to taste)


1 1/2 Cup chickpea flour

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 Teaspoon baking soda

1 Cup Greek yogurt

1/4 Cup fresh parsley (chopped)

1/4 Cup fresh cilantro (chopped)

1/4 Cup plus 1-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat olive oil in oven. Season flour with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour. Cook and brown the chicken on all sides.

Remove browned chicken. Set aside. Add diced onion, celery, carrots to the pot. Cook with curry powder and cayenne pepper.

Add chicken broth, coconut milk, chickpeas, and reserved browned chicken. Allow to come to a simmer.

Combine the dumpling ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until combined i.e.

1 1/2 Cup chickpea flour 1/2 Teaspoon salt 1 Teaspoon baking soda 1 Cup plain yogurt 1/4 Cup fresh parsley (chopped) 1/4 Cup fresh cilantro (chopped) 1/4 Cup plus 1-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Spoon dumpling mixture into soup

Put in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked through.

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