Tom Mackey Cellars, 2016 Dog Tired Red, Sonoma County Red Table Wine ($30) is a big boy, and a good boy, pun intended. If it were actually a dog, it would be a black lab, eager for your attention. It’s a feisty wine, with an exuberant wallop of huge flavors, including blackberries, black cherries, black plums, black peppercorns and the dried brambles we find along creeks and stream beds during a long drought.
You’ll notice plenty of dried herbs, too, especially thyme, oregano and just a bit of tarragon. Good acid keeps the wine lively on its long finish.
On first sip, you might immediately think of red meat, especially short ribs braised in coffee and molasses; venison stew with lavender, sage and a reduced red wine and butter sauce; chili Colorado spaghetti with cheddar cheese; and chicken wings or Korean-cut ribs in Korean barbecue sauce. Lamb shanks braised in red wine with plenty of shallots are a great match, too. Braised sausages make the wine soar.
But this is a wine vegetarians can enjoy. It goes beautifully with roasted sweet peppers dressed with garlic, anchovies and olive oil, and it is excellent with spinach and garlic gratin with cheddar cheese. Welsh rarebit is a great match, as is black olive risotto.
For today’s recipe, I’ve chosen a simple sandwich with layers of flavor that engage the wine’s feistiness in a beautiful way. It is easy to make, inexpensive and delicious. You can take it along on a picnic, with a sweet potato salad in maple syrup vinaigrette alongside. I think we’re all dog-tired right about now, so part of the inspiration for today’s dish is its ease of preparation.
Portobello & Caciocavallo Sandwiches
Makes 2 servings
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Black pepper in a mill
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large (about 10 ounces) or 2 medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed
Black olive mayonnaise (see Note below)
2 very thin slices red onion
4 thin slices Caciacavallo or other smoked cheese
2 sourdough rolls or other rolls of choice
Put the vinegar and garlic into a quart-sized freezer bag, season with salt and pepper and stir in the olive oil. Tuck the mushroom into the bag and seal it, pressing out all the air as you do. Gently massage the mushroom a bit and then refrigerate it for several hours or overnight.
Prepare a stovetop grill or grill pan and, when it is hot, add the mushroom, cap side up, and cook for about 7 minutes. Turn the mushroom over and cook, cap side down, rotating the mushroom once, until it is completely tender, about 10 – 15 minutes, depending on the size of the mushroom and heat of the grill. Transfer to a work surface and let rest for about 5 minutes.
Toast the bread while the mushroom rests. With your knife at a sharp angle, cut the mushroom into ¼-inch thick diagonal slices. Spread mayonnaise over the cut surfaces of the rolls, add the onions to the bottom halves and arrange sliced mushrooms on top of the onions. Season with salt and pepper, top with two pieces of cheese and close the sandwiches. Cut in half and enjoy right away.
Note: To make olive mayonnaise, mince 3 tablespoons black olives (California, oil-cured or a mix of both) and stir into ½ cup homemade or best-quality mayonnaise. Add 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar and several turns of black pepper. Taste and correct for salt as needed.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at email@example.com.