Q&A: Chef Amy LaBelle, The Bistro at LaBelle

Where did you start your career?

I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember as a young child, with my family. I thoroughly enjoy entertaining and when I embarked on my career as Owner and Winemaker, at LaBelle Winery (The Bistro at LaBelle), cooking with wine and pairing food with wine became a focus.

I’m inspired to cook by following the great chefs of the world, as well as the people who attend my cooking classes. My interactive classes welcome home chefs who want to learn to cook with wine, but during our short time together we inspire each other by sharing food preparation tips, and family cooking secrets.

“Without a doubt though, my greatest inspiration to cook comes from my loving husband and two children. I love to play with flavors and find new ways to entice them to the table with healthy, visually gorgeous food and, of course, wine.”

 

Amy LaBelle

What is your key to success?

I credit the key to my success to my husband and children, as well as my parents. They have supported me every step of the way, from becoming a corporate lawyer to winemaker and chef! It was an enormous goal. I often tell my guest that it took me 4083 days to get the doors of my winery open, perseverance is key.

What’s in your fridge?

My refrigerator is stocked with eggs from my hens (all named after New England Patriots football players by my boys) loads of fruits, vegetables, and locally sourced meats. My family is a real meat and potatoes clan, but I’m always trying to introduce new things to expand their food knowledge.

Best cooking tip for a novice?

For the novice cook, I have two tips:

  1. Cook seriously one day a week. If you commit to this way of cooking, you’ll find you’ll prepare tastier, more nutritionally balanced meals, and save money on your grocery bills.
  2. Invest in good pans and knives.  You don’t need a vast collection of cooking vessels, just dependable ones along with high-quality knives.

At at Glance:

Favorite Mushroom: Portobello

Your favorite dish: That’s a tough question! I’d say bœuf à la Bourguignonne, and Coq au vin are two of my favorites! I have an affinity for French cooking! Did I mention croissants? I love those too. 

Your most popular dish: On our seasonal menu, our maple crusted Salmon over lentil and quinoa blend is a current favorite. 

Why are you participating in the Blended Burger Project™?

When I read about the Blended Burger Project™, I knew I had to participate. Other than the far-reaching positive impact on the planet, I genuinely wanted to create a wine-infused burger that my guests would love. My burger contains components I enjoy most, including umami-rich mushrooms, wine, seasonings, lettuce and fried shallots, all of which lend balance in flavor and texture…I also wanted this burger to have a French flair, so I’ve featured a wine-infused Bearnaise sauce to top the burger instead of the usual cheese or mayo. This burger is unique, tender, flavorful, healthier, and delicious.

The Bistro at LaBelle Burger

Winemakers Blended Burger

Caramelized mushrooms finished in a red wine reduction, local beef and fried shallots seasoned with The Winemaker’s Kitchen Steak Seasoning, topped with LaBelle’s Seyval Wine Béarnaise sauce, for an exceptional burger.

Serves: 6

Ingredients

1 cup each shiitake, oyster and crimini mushrooms (or other mix of mushrooms)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbs fresh tarragon
4 oz butter
1 tablespoon The Winemaker’s Kitchen Steak Seasoning Blend (or other fine steak seasoning blend)
2 cups LaBelle Winery Granite State Red Wine (or other dry red wine)

Fried Shallots
8 medium shallots
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup The Winemaker’s Kitchen Steak Seasoning Blend (or other fine steak seasoning blend)
Olive Oil for frying

Béarnaise Sauce
1/4 cup LaBelle Winery Seyval wine (or, you can substitute Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp shallots chopped fine
3 tsp fresh tarragon chopped fine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 fresh egg yolks
8 oz clear butter

6 leaves of Boston lettuce or bibb lettuce
6 good quality hamburger buns
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Béarnaise sauce: In a medium size sauce pan add chopped shallots, tarragon, wine and red wine vinegar.

Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes, reduce to 2 tablespoons. Remove from heat. In a bowl over simmering water (or double boiler/bain-marie), whisk the yolks until thick. Slowly add butter whipping constantly. Add shallots, tarragon and seasoning mixture and continue to whisk until combined. Set aside until your burgers are ready to be assembled.

Fried Shallots: Thinly slice the shallots into rings and bread them in flour and steak seasoning. In a medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat, add breaded shallots, cook until crispy. Remove the shallots from the pan and drain on a paper towel.

Burger Patties: Finely chop mushrooms and set aside. In a large flat bottom pan, melt  butter over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, sauté for 2-minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have released their moisture and become golden brown. Add fresh tarragon, steak seasoning and pepper and salt to taste. Pour LaBelle’s Granite State Red Wine into the mushroom mix and reduce the wine to a thick glaze over low-medium heat. Cool the mushroom and wine mixture off-heat for 15-minutes. Combine the cooled mushroom mixture with 2 pounds of ground chuck then form 6 patties. Sprinkle tops of the burgers with a dash of The Winemaker’s Kitchen Steak Seasoning.

Cook the patties on the grill or in a pan on medium-high heat until your preferred doneness.

Top bottom bun with Béarnaise sauce followed by the burger patty, fried shallots and lettuce.

 


Chef Amy LaBelle
The Bistro at LaBelle Winery
345 Route 101, Amherst, New Hampshire 03031
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