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Zesty Steaks, Eggs and Zinfandel for Independence Day

Two great recipes from Albuquerque chefs, plus 14 recently rated Zinfandels recommended by the editors

Laurie Woolever
Posted: June 21, 2013

Take the party outside for July 4 with simple, classic offerings: charcoal-grilled steaks, deviled eggs and Zinfandel, the all-American red wine that will pull the menu together. Jennifer James and Nelle Bauer, chef-owners of Jennifer James 101 restaurant in Albuquerque, N.M., have shared their recipes for chimichurri, a South American condiment that's perfect on grilled beef, and chipotle-deviled eggs. Throw in a salad of crisp greens and avocado, and a big watermelon or bowl of berries, and you've got a great Independence Day meal. For pairing options, be sure to check out our list of recently rated Zinfandels below.

"Zinfandel is a great match with steak and chimichurri because the flavor of the grilled steak comes through—it isn't overwhelmed with a big heavy sauce," says Bauer. "Then there's the bright 'herbi-ness' of the chimichurri that complements the herbal elements of the wine." She adds that the restaurant, a friendly-yet-upscale surprise in a stretch of Albuquerque strip malls, is recognized for the quality of its steaks, which are sourced locally and from the Oregon-based Painted Hills cooperative. Bauer and James change the menu eight times per year to keep up with the seasons, and the food-friendly, approachable wine list follows suit. "Our wine list is one page, front and back, but the list changes with great frequency, so there is always something new to try," says Bauer.

Independence Day has its own meaning for desert-bound restaurateurs. "Summer in Albuquerque is hot, dry and barren in all respects. We take our two-week summer break at the beginning of July each year," says Bauer. "Our customers expect our annual break to inspire and refresh us, so we all look forward to leaving town to find that inspiration."

Charcoal-Grilled Steaks with Chimichurri

Chimichurri recipe courtesy of Jennifer James 101; steak recipe from the Wine Spectator archive

• 6 New York strip or rib-eye steaks, 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches thick
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• Chimichurri (recipe below)

1. Build as hot a fire as your grilling unit will permit, using hardwood charcoal such as mesquite or hickory. When the coals are very hot, spread them evenly and replace the grill. Brush the grill lightly with oil and let it heat before putting the meat on. Have a spray bottle of water ready to extinguish any grease flare-ups as the steaks cook.

2. After sprinkling lightly with salt and pepper, arrange the steaks on the grill without letting them touch (air must circulate to brown them evenly). Watch the top surface carefully. After 5 to 7 minutes, little drops of red juice will start to bead on the surface. This is the signal to turn the steak.

3. Using tongs, turn the steaks. Season them lightly on the uncooked side. Watch for the telltale beading again. This signals a rare to medium-rare steak. Allow another 1 to 2 minutes for medium, and another 2 to 3 minutes for well-done, turning again halfway through the additional time. Serve the steaks on hot plates, with chimichurri drizzled over. Serves 6.

Chimichurri

• 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender small stems only
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to taste
• Juice of 1 medium lemon
• Salt to taste

In a blender or the bowl of a food processor, combine the parsley and water and blend to finely chop the parsley. Add the garlic and pepper and continue to blend. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Add more oil to suit your taste: a few tablespoons more if you like the sauce chunky, or up to 1/2 cup more if you prefer it loose. Season the mixture with the lemon juice and salt to taste. Let the flavors marry for an hour or so, then spoon it over the steaks (and any other grilled foods) as soon as they come off the grill.

Variations: You may substitute cilantro, basil or another herb of your choice for up to half of the parsley; pump up the spice by using more chile flakes or use serrano or jalapeño; add more garlic, or a little fresh ginger; or save the leftovers for a quick vinaigrette or pasta sauce.

Chipotle-Deviled Eggs with Cilantro

Recipe courtesy of Jennifer James 101

• 1 dozen eggs (preferably a few weeks old, as they are easier to peel)
• 1 tablespoon Lusty Monk "Burn in Hell" chipotle mustard (or other mustard seasoned with chipotle peppers)
• 1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional)
• Salt to taste
• 12 cilantro leaves

1. Carefully arrange the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot and add just enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes, using a kitchen timer to avoid overcooking the eggs.

2. While the eggs simmer, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Once the eggs are done cooking, immediately transfer them to the ice bath.

3. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, remove them one at a time. Tap the wide end of the egg, where there should be an air pocket, on a clean work surface, then roll the egg gently to loosen and crack the shell. Following this procedure will help ensure smooth-surfaced eggs. Repeat until all of the eggs have been peeled. Rinse them gently under cold water and pat dry with clean paper towels. Cut each egg in half lengthwise and carefully transfer the yolk halves to a medium-sized bowl. Set the whites aside on a platter.

4. Mash the egg yolks with a fork, making them as smooth as possible, then fold in the mustard (you may adjust the quantity of the mustard to suit your taste) and the mayonnaise, if using. Season the yolk mixture with salt to taste. Using a large spatula, transfer the mixture to a clean zip-top plastic bag or pastry piping bag fitted with a medium tip. Squeeze out the extra air; if using a zip-top bag, snip off one corner of the bag with kitchen scissors. Pipe the filling into the egg whites and top each with a cilantro leaf. (You may also choose to garnish with paprika, celery salt or jalapeño relish.)

Note: Deviled eggs are best when freshly filled, so you may wish to prepare the yolk mixture and fill just before guests arrive—or even on demand if it's a small crowd.

RECOMMENDED ZINFANDELS

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

THE PRISONER Napa Valley 2011 Score: 92 | $38
Packed with fruit character, this deep, ripe version offers plenty of new oak, revealing a rich texture and zesty flavors of smoky licorice, blackberry cobbler and cracked pepper. Drink now through 2019. 68,000 cases made. —T.F.

FRANK FAMILY Zinfandel Napa Valley 2010 Score: 91 | $37
Ripe and focused, with boysenberry and toffee aromas, offering layered huckleberry, pepper and fresh sage flavors. The tannins sneak in on the finish. Drink now through 2018. 5,114 cases made. —T.F.

TURLEY Zinfandel California Juvenile 2011 Score: 91 | $20
Vibrant and jammed with fruit, offering black cherry and toasty vanilla aromas, with focused raspberry, sage and smoky licorice flavors. Drink now through 2019. 3,000 cases made. —T.F.

DRY CREEK Zinfandel Sonoma County Heritage 2010 Score: 90 | $19
A lively, zesty Zin, with raspberry and fresh sage aromas and appealing cherry, pepper and mineral flavors that finish with ripe and briary tannins. Drink now through 2017. 13,495 cases made. —T.F.

CAROL SHELTON Zinfandel Mendocino County Wild Thing Old Vine 2009 Score: 90 | $19
Zesty and racy, offering floral raspberry and cinnamon aromas that lead to lively, appealing flavors of cherry, spice, herb and anise. Drink now through 2018. 3,330 cases made. —T.F.

STEELE Zinfandel Mendocino County Old Vine Pacini Vineyard 2009 Score: 89 | $18
A zesty, old-school style, showing focus and a touch of elegance while maintaining appealing notes of briary berry, grilled anise and smoked pepper. Drink now through 2017. 4,000 cases made. —T.F.

ARTEZIN Zinfandel Mendocino County 2011 Score: 88 | $18
A lively version, with appealing raspberry and fresh sage flavors. The tannins give the finish focus and lift. Drink now through 2017. 18,000 cases made. —T.F.

EDMEADES Zinfandel Mendocino County 2010 Score: 88 | $20
Offers deep plum and peppered herb aromas, with ripe, jammy black cherry, sage and mineral flavors. Drink now through 2018. 10,500 cases made. —T.F.

RAVENSWOOD Zinfandel Napa Valley Old Vine 2011 Score: 88 | $15
Jammy, ripe and easy to drink, with lots of raspberry, pepper and toasted herb notes. Drink now through 2019. 18,000 cases made. —T.F.

BOGLE Zinfandel California Old Vine 2010 Score: 87 | $11
A juicy fruit bomb, with appealing cherry, tea and spicy vanilla flavors. Drink now through 2017. 240,000 cases made. —T.F.

CASTLE ROCK Zinfandel Lodi 2011 Score: 86 | $11
Zesty, offering lots of spice, with notes of dried cherry, underbrush and herb. Drink now through 2017. 9,300 cases made. —T.F.

GNEKOW Zinfandel Lodi Campus Oaks Old Vine 2010 Score: 86 | $10
Ripe and jammy, with appealing notes of dried plum, black pepper and grilled anise. Drink now through 2017. 16,000 cases made. —T.F.

MICHAEL & DAVID PHILLIPS Zinfandel Lodi 7 Deadly Zins Old Vine 2010 Score: 86 | $16
Zesty and ripe, featuring bold raisin and licorice aromas, with modest cherry, cedar and herb notes. Drink now through 2016. 300,000 cases made. —T.F.

PLUNGERHEAD Zinfandel Lodi Old Vine 2011 Score: 86 | $16
Zesty, with modest dried cherry, spicy herb and licorice flavors. Drink now through 2016. 40,000 cases made. —T.F.

Ralph
Fleming Island, FL, USA —  June 21, 2013 5:04pm ET
As an everyday Zin,Klinker Brick is still my favorite

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