We enjoyed a family holiday on the Riviera Maya in February and decided to get together with our family and some friends who had also been to the same resort to enjoy a photo evening. We thought a Mexican buffet would be a good idea. Our son contributed his own delicious version of chicken enchiladas and one of our friends supplied a chilli con carne with dark chocolate in the sauce. Our daughter and son-in-law provided a spectacular nachos, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo and salad. We did Justine Patisson’s pulled pork tacos from the BBC Good Food website.
What to drink with such a variety of flavours? A couple of different Shirazes were on offer, including Blaxland Estate 2015, from Tesco. Those preferring white wine, enjoyed Louis Felipe Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, supplied by our son because it was one of the house whites from our Mexican hotel. There was also Guinness West Indies Porter available as an alternative to wine.
With such a variety of flavours it was impossible to find something that paired well with everything, especially with dishes like the pork tacos that contained marked sweetness. My preference was Shiraz, but the porter was also popular. Overall, a buffet with such diverse flavours is probably not the best occasion to bring out the fine wines.
We saw an interesting recipe video on the Tasty Facebook page for a whole slow-cooked chicken.
Salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, pepper and minced garlic are mixed together and rubbed into the chicken. Garlic cloves, lemon and onion are stuffed into the the cavity.
Carrots, celery, onion and potato are added to the slow cooker, the chicken is placed on top and the meal is cooked on low for 8 hours.
The chicken is then sliced and served with the vegetables. We had left out the potato and served instead with croquettes cooked separately.
The chicken had interesting flavours reminiscent of Cajun cuisine.
We were unsure what wine would go with the meal and had a little taste with a sip of South African Cabernet Sauvignon, but rejected this. Instead we opened a bottle of Burge Benchmark Shiraz 2014, a full-bodied Australian red from the Wine Society.
We detected raspberries on the nose followed by smooth red fruits and a savoury, spicy finish. Whilst the wine was a good match with the chicken, it would be interesting to discover next time whether a white would be better.
It’s been a long time since we cooked Red Bean and Lamb Casserole, a Supercook favourite. It’s an adaptation of an Iranian dish.
Cubed lamb is casseroled in chicken stock with onions, garlic, tomatoes, kidney beans, turmeric, salt, pepper, lemon juice, coriander and mint. Yoghurt is stirred in at the end and the dish is garnished with parsley. We served with mashed potato and roasted courgettes.
We initially tried to pair the meal with Glorioso Crianza Rioja 2011, a medium-bodied Spanish red from the Wine Society, but surprisingly the flavours of the lamb casserole did the wine no favours, so we set the wine aside.
We thought a wine with more sweetness might be better and opted for a bottle of Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva 2009, a medium-bodied Spanish red that is a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo. We last enjoyed this with a lamb korma.
We detected intense red fruits on the nose with vanilla sweetness, black and red fruits and a slight mocha finish. A good match, but we have enjoyed better pairings with this wine.
For the leftovers we decided to switch to a bottle of Prospector Shiraz 2013, a full-bodied Australian red from Naked Wines that we had enjoyed previously with a beef carbonnade.
We detected black fruits on the nose with vanilla sweetness and intense red and black fruits on the palate. The finish was smooth, peppery and spicy. The wine was a slightly better match than the Rioja, but we were left wondering what wine would have been a really good match.
We enjoyed Rick Stein’s “From Venice to Istanbul” tv programme last year and we tried his Lamb Kleftiko. A couple of very good pairings with that dish can be found here.
This time we cooked his rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi).
Boned lamb shoulder is cooked with red pepper paste, tomato paste, onion, garlic, green chilli, green pepper, tomatoes, oregano and seasoning. The lamb stew is served on a bed of aubergine purée made from mashed aubergine, milk, flour, Parmesan, lemon juice and seasoning. We served with flatbread.
We opened a bottle of Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva from the Co-op. A previous bottle of this medium-bodied Spanish red was very good with lamb chops.
There were black fruits on the nose, a vanilla sweetness with mocha and sweet black fruits on the palate. A good match with the meal, but we thought the flavours in the aubergine purée may have detracted a little from the pairing.
There were brambly fruits on the nose, vanilla sweetness on the palate, with blackberry fruit and a milk chocolate and coffee mocha finish. The Shiraz was a better match than the Rioja with this particular combination of Turkish lamb stew and aubergine purée.
We tried Beef Carbonnade from the Slow Cook Book. Cubed beef is slow-cooked in a mixture of shallots, seasoning, garlic, sugar, nutmeg, bouquet garni and beer. We used a can of Hobgoblin.
Slices of French bread spread with Dijon mustard are added halfway through the cooking time. These soak into the pot and enhance the gravy. Parsley is sprinkled over the top at the end and we served the carbonnade with a jacket potato. A very enjoyable meal.
We opened a bottle of Prospector Shiraz 2013, a full-bodied Australian red from Naked Wines. There were blackberry fruits on the nose and the palate delivered a creamy vanilla sweetness and rich, smooth black fruits. The wine was a very good match with the meal.
We enjoyed the leftovers of this carbonnade with a bottle of Reserve de Pierre 2013, a medium-bodied Southern French red also from Naked Wines. This blend of Grenache and Syrah displayed nice legs in the glass, a red berry creamy sweetness and a smooth finish with a hint of spice. Another very good match.
We made pulled pork fajitas by loading some tortilla wraps with Tesco‘s BBQ pulled pork, which is slow cooked pork shoulder with a BBQ glaze and a hickory BBQ sauce. We then added grated Cheddar, guacamole, sour cream and shredded lettuce. Tasty.
We opened a bottle of Ballingarry Estate, Clare Valley Shiraz/Mataro/Grenache 2009 from the Sunday Times Wine Club.
This wine was a lovely inky black in the glass. We detected black fruits on the nose, followed by an initially sweet palate, spicy black fruits and a long chocolaty finish. A moreish wine and a very good match with the fajitas.
We found an interesting recipe in the Slow Cook Book called Lamb Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce.
The meatballs are made from minced lamb, onions, chilli, garlic, chorizo, paprika and seasoning. The sauce contains onion, garlic, red wine, tinned tomatoes, smoked paprika, Tabasco sauce and seasoning. We served with spaghetti and sprinkled over some Parmesan.
We paired this dish with a bottle of Dark Corner Durif Shiraz 2014, an Australian red from the Sunday Times Wine Club.
We detected berry fruits on the nose with sweetness and black fruits on the palate. There were vanilla and chocolate notes on the finish and we thought the wine was a very good match with the meal.
We cooked Beef “Ribbon” Kebabs (Pasanda Kabab) from Madhur Jaffrey.
Steak is cut into thin strips or pasanda, threaded on skewers and barbecued. For simplicity we just cubed some good quality rump steak. but first we marinated it in a blended mixture of browned onions, chopped onions, yoghurt, lemon juice, mustard oil, almonds, ginger, garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, mace and coriander.
The marinated steak was then grilled on skewers on the barbecue.
We served the meat with grilled zucchini with cumin and pulao rice.
We paired the kebabs with a bottle of Felix Swan Hill Victoria Shiraz-Sagrantino 2013, an Australian red from the Wine Society.
We detected black fruits on the nose and this followed through to the palate. There was a slight sweetness, flavours of black cherries and a full-flavoured spicy finish. A very good match with the beef kebabs.
We pan-fried two rib-eye steaks and poured over them a sauce containing red onion, Stilton, cream cheese, milk and English mustard. We served with sautéed potatoes, mushrooms and asparagus. Very tasty.
We chose a bottle of The Forefather Malbec Shiraz Gran Reserva 2008, a full-bodied Argentinian red from the Sunday Times Wine Club.
We detected vanilla and berries on the nose and tasted blackberry fruits, sweet vanilla and slight tobacco notes on the finish. This rich and mature wine was a very good match with the steak.
We tried Hyderabadi Lamb with Tomatoes (Timatar Gosht), a very good Indian recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Bible.
Cubed lamb is marinated in ginger, garlic and turmeric and then cooked with onions, tomatoes, green chillies, curry leaves and fresh coriander. We served the curry with Indian breads and rice.
We chose a bottle of The Red Sedan Oak-Aged Shiraz 2008 to accompany the meal. This is a full-bodied Australian red from the Sunday Times Wine Club.
We detected black cherries on the nose, followed by smooth, rich black fruits , spiciness and a velvety chocolate finish. The wine was a good match with the meal.
A couple of days later we finished the remainder of this dish and the flavours were far more intense.
We opened a bottle of Tesco’s Finest Valle de Colchagua Carménère 2013, a full-bodied Chilean red. This displayed powerful red fruits and spice, but surprisingly it overwhelmed the curry, so we set it aside.
We turned to a bottle of Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2008, a Spanish red from Costco. This was smooth, velvety, with vanilla red fruits, spiciness and some complexity. The wine was a good match.