Tag Archives: zinfandel

Wine Country Beef Stew is a Dusi of a Recipe!

by Xochitl Maiman – May 17, 2015

Paso Robles Wine Country Cooking for a Crowd – Dusi Family Beef Stew

Wine night happens pretty regularly around our house. And for those of you who know me and are saying, “Isn’t that every night?”, well, yes could be the answer. But, I’m referring this time to gatherings of thirsty wine-loving friends that happen every couple of months, ranging in size from 6 people to more than 40. But whatever the size, one of the challenges is figuring out what to feed my guests that is delicious, satisfying, wine friendly and can be prepared in a large quantity and ahead of time.

East this with Paso Robles wine - cookbook cover

In my quest this year to cook my way through my friend, Lisa Pretty’s cookbooks, “eat this with Paso Robles Wine”, volumes 1 and 2, I came across a recipe for Beef Stew… with a provenance.

Sylvester and Caterina Dusi immigrated to the United States from Northen Italy in the 1920’s, settling in Paso Robles. In 1945, along with their three sons, Guido, Dante, and Benito, they purchased land on the west side of Paso and planted Zinfandel. It is on this estate and in this esteemed vineyard that Janell Dusi was raised with the vines and today makes wine under the label of J. Dusi Wines. The highly sought after fruit from the the Dusi Vineyard is also used by other Paso Robles wineries such as Turley, Tobin James, Brochelle and Cypher.

Janell Dusi

Last year I had the opportunity to tour the Dusi Vineyard, meet Janell and taste a number of wines from different producers using Dusi Zinfandel. While nuances varied from wine to wine, the common denominator was rich, ripe, bold wines with layers of flavors. All would pair nicely with a hearty beef stew. (Visit my Dusi Vineyard Tour photo album)

Stew and polenta has been a Dusi family favorite for generations, and Janell shared her family’s recipe with Lisa for publication in Volume 2. Like most cooks, I couldn’t resist “tweaking” the recipe a bit, but the result was probably the best beef stew I ever made. Of course, Zinfandel is wonderful with this stew, but other red wines pair nicely too, making it the perfect dish to serve when many different wines are being tasted. While I didn’t have any of Janell’s wines on hand, I did have a bottle of Parrish Family Vineyards 2012 Zinfandel (not Dusi fruit) that I was anxious to try and turned out to be a delicious choice.

So gather some friends, open some bottles of zinfandel, get out your stock pot and give this recipe a try, The recipe below is my version for a crowd, but can easily be cut in half. Please, also check out the original recipe in Lisa’s book, along with all the other Paso Robles wine country recipes to share with family and friends at “wine night” at your house.


Dusi Beef Stew


4 lbs cubed lean stew meat

3/4 cup flour mixed with 2 tsp instant espresso powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning, salt and pepper

Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, crushed

Parrish Family Vineyards Zinfandel Paso Robles

1 1/2 cups celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal

10 large carrots (rainbow if possible) sliced on the diagonal

2 large leeks, dark green parts removed, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced

2 lbs of baby white fingerlings, scrubbed and sliced in half lenthwise

8 cups of beef broth

1 bottle of dry red wine (I used Primitivo)

2 Tablespoons anise flavored liquor ( I used Jagermeister)

1 Tbsp each dried oregano and basil

1/2 cup of coffee

1 sm can tomato paste

2 ozs dried wild mushrooms (re-hydrated in boiling water for 20 minutes – then drain, and coarsely chop. RESERVE LIQUID

1 cup sweet baby peas

For the Stew: Toss the cubed beef in the flour mixture. Heat 3 T. olive oil in large skillet – Working in batches, add meat to pan (do not overcrowd) and brown on all sides, adding more oil as needed.

In each of two dutch ovens, heat 3 T. olive oil. Add half the onions to each pot, cooking on med-low for a few minutes. To each pot add half the garlic, celery, carrots, leeks and potatoes. Stir and cook for 3 minutes over med high heat. Add the beef broth, wine, liquor, coffee and herbs, half to each pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer while preparing mushrooms.

In skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add mushrooms and cook till beginning to soften. Add all but 1 T. of the can of tomato paste to the pan. Stir to cook paste. Add reserved mushroom soaking liquid, being careful to retain any sediment. Cook mushroom mixture a couple of minutes then stir into stew pots. Cover pots and simmer stew on low 2-3 hours till meat and vegetables are tender. If stew is too thin, remove cover and cook till desired consistency. Five minutes before serving, add the peas.


1 stick of unsalted butter

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

3 c. chicken stock

2 c half-and-half

2 c whole milk

2 c polenta

1 container mascarpone cheese

1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

Fried onions (like Durkee)

Crumbled gorgonzola

For the Polenta: Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and slowly sprinkle the polenta into the hot liquid, stirring constantly with a whisk. (Grandma Dusi said to always stir in one direction) Cook, stirring constantly until polenta thickens and bubbles. Stir in mascarpone and parmesan cheeses and continue to cook, gently, stirring, until polenta is tender ( 5-10 min). Season with salt and pepper and a dash of red pepper if desired.

To Serve:

Place 1/2-3/4 cup of polenta in pasta bowl. Ladle stew over polenta. Top with fried onions and crumbled gorgonzola.







Sunday Dinner #3 – Honey Marinated Pork

One of my all time favorite meats is pork tenderloin. There are so many ways to prepare it and it is always tender and juicy whether you grill or roast them whole or pan fry slices. This last Sunday I had to be out all day so it was the perfect opportunity to try a recipe that called for marinating for a few hours. It was ready for cooking when I got home with only the sides to get prepared.




Honey-Marinated Pork w/Gremolata on a bed of Cornbread Dressing

Honey-Marinated Pork w/Gremolata on a bed of Cornbread Dressing



4 cups cubed cornbread, toasted – (1 box Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix can be used instead)

1/4 cup butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large brown onion, diced

5 ribs of celery, sliced

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp minced sage

about 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

1/4 cup white wine or 3 Tbsp Jack Daniels

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Approx 4 cups chicken stock


In large saute pan over med high heat, sweat onions in butter and olive oil till opaque. Add celery and apple and continue to cool till just tender. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Add sage and seasoning mix from TJ’s mix, if using. If not, along with sage and Creole Seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1 Tbsp dried parsley. Add wine and about 2 cups of chicken stock, cranberries and pecans and simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl, mix bread cubes and vegetable mixture along with enough additional chicken stock to moisten, but not too mushy. Season again to taste with salt and pepper and more Creole Seasoning. Place in buttered casserole baking dish and bake at 375 degrees along with pork till heated through and slightly crusty on top.


2 12 oz bags of frozen french style green beans

1 lg red onion, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 tsp honey

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

In medium saute pan with olive oil and butter, slowly cook onion till deeply browned, about 15-20 minutes. Add honey, balsamic and pinch of salt and cook 1 minute more, stirring. Season with pepper. Can be prepared ahead and set aside.

Cook green beans in boiling salted water just till heated through. Drain immediately and well and add to pan with onions, mixing well. Cook over med heat till warmed. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a bit more Creole Seasoning. ( I put this stuff in everything!)

Presentation: Slice tenderloins and lay overlapping on top of cornbread dressing in casserole. Pour juices from pan over meat then sprinkle with gremolata. Serve with green beans and some really good fresh bread. Pour a full bodied Zinfandel.


Tobin James Fatboy Zinfandel, 2007 – ($55) – The name says it all. This wine is full-bodied, rich and jammy with flavors of star anise and blackberry, and a velvety vanilla finish. This is Paso Zin, folks, not for the meek and mild. Made from grapes sourced from some of the most famous Zinfandel vineyards in Paso Robles, with some being from 50 year old or older vines.  Cheers!

Not eating potatoes? Try this dish instead.

If you love potatoes, maybe too much, and are trying to stay away, try this recipe in place of mashed spuds. It’s really delicious, even to a carb fiend like me.


Mashed Cauliflower with Butternut Squash



1 large head of white cauliflower, core removed and cut into large florets

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces

2-3 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

2 Tbsp minced fresh sage

3 Tbsp grated parmesan

1/2 cup shredded cheddar or goat gouda

Salt and pepper to taste

Toast squash in 425 degree oven till golden and tender, about 30-40 minutes, turning half way through cooking time.

Cook cauliflower in rapidly boiling salted water till tender, but not falling apart. Drain well. Add roasted squash to pot and mash till it looks like large crumbs. Mixture should not be smooth. Stir in butter then rest of ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

Great with ribs or steak and a medley of roasted root vegetables, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with crumbled goat cheese and a sprinkling of Herbs du Provence.

Beef ribs

Beef ribs


Tobin James Fat Boy Zinfandel – 2005 – Paso Robles

This bad boy weighs in at a whopping 16% alcohol and is thick, rich, jammy and over the top. A Paso Zin in all ways and perfect with any beef you are thinking of BBQ’ing, especially if you are using a sweet heat glaze like I used on these ribs.  Cheers!

Opolo Spiced Cranberry Sauce

This recipe was sent to me from Opolo Vineyards in Paso Robles. I’ve been a fan of their line-up of zins for a long time so this recipe sounds really good to me. I’ll be adding it to my Thanksgiving menu this year. I’ll let you know what I think of it – please let me know if you try it and what you think.


3 1/2 cups Opolo Mountain Zinfandel

2 cups sugar

2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar

12 whole cloves

12 whole allspice

4 cinnamon sticks

2 – 3×1 inch strips orange peel

2 – 12 oz bags fresh cranberries


Combine all ingredients, except cranberries, in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain syrup into large saucepan. Add cranberries t syrup and cook over medium heat until berries burst, about 6-8 minutes. Cool. Transfer sauce to medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold. (Can be made 1 week ahead. keep refrigerated.)

Note from the winery: Unless your family really loves cranberry sauce, you might want to cut tis recipe in half.  The best part about doing that is that you’ll end of with half a bottle of Mountain Zinfandel left over to drink while you cook!  Happy Holidays!

I wish you all a joyful Thanksgiving – there is so very much to celebrate and be grateful for. I am thankful to all of you who have come along on this writing journey with me the last 5 months – I look forward to many more things to raise a glass to. I’ll Drink to That!

Opolo Mountain Zinfandel – 2007

The ’07 Mountain Zinfandel is loaded with gobs of boysenberry, wild cherry bottle_opolo and blackberry. Rustic anise and ripe velvety tannins on the finish.