No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Cellar Can Blau Montsant 2009   Leave a comment

This little guy doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  Here is this week’s $15 or less offering. 

No-Guilt Wednesday is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank, eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love. 

When I was a young Sybarite, many years ago, Mama (pronounced ma-MA, with the accent on the second syllable), would on occasion prepare chuletas guisadas con tostones (pronounced CHOO-le-taas   GEE-sa-das cone TOS-toe-nes)– braised pork chops with twice fried green plantains.  The combination is magical as the sauce that the chops are braised in complements the starchy crunchiness of the plantains.  The secret to the sauce is sofrito.  French food has its triumvirate of carrots, onions and celery.  Chinese food has its troika of soy sauce, garlic and ginger.   Puerto Rican cookery relies on a substance named Sofrito– a combination of cilantro/culantro, garlic, onion and ajis dulce. 

I know that I can never replicate the flavors of Mama’s kitchen and I don’t ever want to.  Sometimes when I visit her, she makes this dish for me.  They are as good as they were all those years ago.   I still light up when chuletas y tostones arrive at our table. 

So there I was minding my own business at the supermarket mulling over some pork chops when some awesome looking lamb shoulder chops jumped out at me.  Dare I break with convention?  Oh yeah– just don’t tell Mama.

Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops with Tostones


  • 4 Lamb Shoulder Chops with bone in
  • 3 tbsps EVOO
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • salt & pepper

For the Sofrito

  • 10 leaves of Culantro (one bunch of cilantro can be substituted) washed and dried
  • The cloves of a Head of Garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
  • 12 ajis dulce (available in spanish groceries) split and cleaned of membranes and seeds.  Note, green bell pepper can be substituted, but it is not as rich or aromatic as ajis dulces.

For the Tostones

  • 3 green (unripened) plantains peeled and cut into 1 inch thick rounds and put to soak in a bowl of salted water
  • 2 Cups of Canola Oil
  • Preferred equipment for frying is a Wok


Prepare the Sofrito:

  1. In a food processor,  combine the Culantro, Garlic, Onion and Ajis Dulce and process until finely chopped and combined.  Note this will yield more than you need , but the excess can be set aside and frozen.

Prepare the Chops:

  1. Season the chops with salt and pepper
  2. Heat up a frying pan large enough to comfortably hold the chops without crowding the pan. 
  3. Add EVOO to the pan and when hot (but not smoking) sear the chops over high heat to create a nice brown crust.  About 2 minutes per side.  Remove the chops and set aside. 
  4. In the same hot pan, add 2-3 tbsps of  Sofrito 3 tbsps and tomato sauce, stir and cook for 1 minute over medium heat
  5. Return the seared Lamb Chops to the pan with the Red Bell Pepper strips and add enough water to cover the Chops and Bell Pepper.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until meat is tender.

Prepare the Tostones: 

  1. While the meat is cooking, remove the sliced plantains from the salted water and pat dry.
  2. Heat up the canola oil in a wok (or frying pan) and fry the plantains in batches.  They should just start to turn color but should NOT be cooked all the way through.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
  3. Take each plantain, place it on a cutting board and flatten it with a spatula or a the bottom of a heavy plate.  Each piece should be about 1/8 of an inch thick or up to 1/4 inch thick.  I prefer the crunchier thinner ones.
  4. Refry each of the tostones in batches until fully cooked through being careful not to burn them.  Remove from oil and drain.  Season with salt while still draining.
  5. Serve with the Lamb Chops.

Serves 4

Addition variations

  • Go classic and make this with bone in pork chops
  • If you do not fear garlic, sprinkle a little garlic powder over the chops along with the salt. 

Sybarite Sauvage ©


Trippin' on Acid?  Bon Voyage!
Cellar Can Blau Montsant 2009
Cellar Can Blau Montsant ($12) 2009.  I am a fan of the 2007 vintage of this wine.  But this is simply not as aromatic as the 2007 with its earthy nose rife with some woodsy almost truffle-like characteristics and black plum.  2009 is out of character with that earlier vintage: red raspberry and cranberry fruit is tart, dominated by the acidity that hits your palate at the first instant.  This is one hell of an Acid Trip.  And I was disappointed.  I put a cork in it and went to bed.  But as it sat overnight, and I went off to work and on my return home the next evening, the magic of time in an open bottle opened this baby right up.  The acid was still there, but something else started to kick up its heels.  Something herbal.  Something a little more alluring.  Something delicious.  Something forest like mixed with eucalyptus.  So if you’re not the patient type, like me, decant– please decant this.  But have it with food and you will definitely be Tripping pleasantly.  Rated **1/2
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Posted January 18, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

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