A Sweet And Spicy Summer Via Alex Guarnaschelli’s Recipes

Chef and restaurant owner Alex Guarnaschelli is ready for summer with her wine and BBQ inspired menu. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images)
Chef and restaurant owner Alex Guarnaschelli is ready for summer with her wine and BBQ inspired menu.
(Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images)

What happens when a Food Network dynamo and sinfully tasteful brand of wine get together? An explosion of excitement for your tastebuds, that’s what happens.

Food Network Chef and owner of Butter Midtown, Alex Guarnaschelli, recently paired up with Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi to create the perfect summer menu, incorporating Cabernet Sauvignon and Woodbridge’s new Wine ‘Cue Sauce, a limited-edition Cabernet Sauvignon-infused grilling sauce.

At her recent backyard barbecue event (the backyard of her own restaurant, Butter), Guarnaschelli served her original recipes, incorporating the sauce along with refreshing wine cocktails like a moscato mint julip, while enjoying corn hole and jumbo Jenga with guests, all to the tune of the Handsome Hearts bluegrass band. For Guarnaschelli, the partnership just made sense.

“Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi sent me the Cabernet and Wine ‘Cue Sauce and they said play with it and see what you think,” said Guarnaschelli. “I like when a partnership starts that way otherwise it’s like an arranged marriage; you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Although she is a renowned and experienced chef, Guarnaschelli made several attempts to find a recipe she liked, not because she didn’t like the product, but because she didn’t pick the right ingredients. She admitted to trying a barbecue eggplant before realizing her temporary moment of insanity.

“I have an extremely long to-do list as a chef and one of the things I want to achieve with food has always been to make a vinaigrette for salad that has reduced wine in it and I never succeeded,” said Guarnaschelli, who finally got it right with the Cabernet Sauvignon. “It’s that particular Cabernet that works in that particular way and I don’t want to learn something like that after I partner with someone. So Woodbridge came to me first and was like, ‘Let’s date for a minute. Do you like the product?’”

Oven-Baked Woodbridge Wine Chicken Wings (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images)
Oven-Baked Woodbridge Wine Chicken Wings
(Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images)

When it came time to develop recipes, Guarnaschelli came up with eight in total that utilized both the Wine ‘Cue Sauce and Cabernet Sauvignon. Caramelized wine onion dip, BBQ shrimp, pork shoulder, grilled pineapple, a mixed green salad, portobello sliders, chicken wings and potato salad, all featuring wine and the sauce, made the cut.

“I wound up making eight dishes that I really liked and could stand by. I would take this stuff down to the dining room and be cool with it and you can’t often say that,” she said of this delicious summer entertaining menu. “I cooked with the responsibility to a particular ingredient and a particular brand and to me, that’s more delicate that going to the market and buying a bunch of vegetables.”

In the summertime, Guarnaschelli loves to cook, but like anyone else, wants to get all of her cooking done and then be outside with her friends. As a mom to a 7-year-old and busy chef and restaurant owner, Guarnaschelli wants to play hooky from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“I don’t want to be stuck at the stove. If I have enough of a base to cook with, a few sauces to make a salad or chicken, I can grab a few things and get going right away,” she said. “I wanted this food to reflect as if you were cooking a bunch but maybe you really weren’t.”

As a professional chef, Guarnaschelli said that she and her colleagues are not a normal breed of animal.

“I can’t just lay out bread and cheese; there’s an expectation. Whether I have it of myself or my friends have it of me, this kind of stuff makes me ready,” she said of the wine and sauce.

As for her summer plans, Guarnaschelli is looking forward to taking her daughter to the beach and to carnivals. Her own personal agenda, however, includes cooking her way through all of Long Island, vegetable-wise.

“I love farm stands. I’m a sucker for them,” said Guarnaschelli, revealing that she is a big-time vegetable person. “My heart palpitates when I go to a farm stand. The cash in my pocket is pulsating because I can easily buy $400 worth of vegetables.”

Whatever your summer plans are, take a page out of Guarnaschelli’s recipe book and cook with Woodbridge’s Wine ‘Cue Sauce. Your ribs, burgers and pulled pork will thank you later. Woodbridge Wine ‘Cue Sauce is available on Amazon.com for $6.99 through Sept. 30. To see some of Alex Guarnascehlli’s recipes, click here.

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Jennifer Fauci
Jennifer Fauci is the former managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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