Pairing: Have a glass of pinot with beef, duck or a mushroom burger
Our Wine of the Week, Pedroncelli 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($22), is a delicious summer wine, perfect for picnics and barbecues.
On warm days, it will show itself best if you chill it down a bit so that you can enjoy it at cellar temperature, not room temperature.
Fruit flavors suggest Rainier cherries, red raspberries and black raspberries, with threads of sweet spice — allspice, anise, cardamom and clove — woven throughout. The texture is silken, like velvet rubbing against taffeta, with long, soft tannins and bright acidity. There is just a hint of smokiness in there, too.
The wine is beautiful with sautéed mushrooms, grilled eggplant, rare lamb, rare duck, rib-eye steak topped with gorgonzola butter and an enormous array of other foods. A well-made pinot noir such as this one is one of the easiest wines to pair at the table.
But as we always do at this time of year, we are talking about wines that go well with burgers. For the very best match, make your burgers out of freshly ground duck spiked with the same sweet spices the wine suggests.
If your preferences tend toward lamb burgers, grass-fed beef burgers or mushrooms burgers, the match will still be great, especially if you select a condiment that pulls everything together.
Today’s recipe is just that condiment, homemade mayonnaise spiked with smoked salt. It is a unifying condiment, one that works well if you are feeding people with varying preferences.
It goes equally well with a grilled portobello mushroom burger and a juicy bison burger. The best accompaniments include thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced local tomatoes, and, if you must have cheese, smoked mozzarella.
Makes about 1 ¼ cups
¾ teaspoon smoked salt, see Note below
— Pinch of ground clove
— Pinch of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon best-quality red wine vinegar
1 large or jumbo egg yolk, from backyard or pastured chickens
1 cup mild olive oil, such as a late harvest oil
Put the salt, clove and cardamom in a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and vinegar and swirl until the salt is dissolved. Add the egg yolk and whisk vigorously until it is smooth and thick.
Begin adding the olive oil a few drops at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. As the emulsion forms, increase the quantity of oil you add to a small but steady drizzle.
Taste and correct for salt and acid. If it tastes a bit flat, put a few pinches of the smoked salt into a bowl, add a little squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar, stir until the salt dissolves, and fold it into the mayonnaise.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. It will keep for about 4 days.
Note: Smoked salt appeared in the retail market not quite 20 years ago and is now widely available. Oliver’s Markets carry it, and you can also find it at Shelton’s Natural Foods Market in Healdsburg and in several specialty stores throughout the North Bay.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “Vinaigrettes & Other Dressings.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.