Main Dish

Mazzocco Zinfandel Lamb Mole

Mazzocco Sonoma Winery

1400 Lytton Springs Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448

  • RECIPE YEAR: 2014
  • RECIPE BY: Bruce Riezenman
  • YIELD: Serves 6
  • PAIRS WELL WITH: 2012 Zinfandel Reserve Sonoma County

This adaptation of mole pairs well with Zinfandel. You can make the sauce as mild or as spicy as you’d like by adding more chiles. This version is fairly mild, but remember, as the mole sits, the flavors will expand. It is best to make the mole a day ahead, then combine it with some of the lamb “jus” the next day. Lamb shoulder has plenty of fat to keep it moist through long, slow cooking.

Zinfandel Mole

  • 1 dried pasilla chile, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 dried mulato chile, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3/4 cup Zinfandel
  • 2 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
  • 1/3 ripe plantain
  • 10 animal crackers
  • 3/4 disk chocolate abuelita
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
Place the chiles in a small sauté pan, set over medium heat and toast until they just begin to color. Transfer to a small bowl.

Wipe out the pan, set over medium heat and toast the sesame seeds until light brown. Add to the bowl with the chiles.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine, cherries, raisins and juniper berries. Simmer until there is less than 1/4 cup wine remaining.

Add the chile-sesame mixture, plantain, animal crackers, chocolate abuelita, water and salt to the saucepan with the wine-fruit mixture. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. The mole is ready. Transfer to a glass jar and allow it to “bloom” overnight in the refrigerator. 

This recipe makes more mole than you will need for the lamb, so use it freely on other dishes as well. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Zinfandel

  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder
  • 1 cup Zinfandel
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Basmati rice for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for serving
  • Chopped tomatoes for serving
Ask your butcher to remove the bones from the lamb shoulder and to tie the meat up as a roast. If they used a net for tying, you can remove the roast from the net and marinate it “open” for best flavor. 

In a bowl, whisk together the wine, garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the lamb in a large sealable plastic bag or baking dish and add the marinade. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate overnight, turning the lamb a few times. 

The next day, place the lamb back in the net or leave it as is if you’ve left the meat tied. You have several options for cooking the lamb.

To cook on a rotisserie on a grill: Prepare a low fire in a grill. Skewer the lamb on the spit, and place a pan to catch the drippings underneath it. Cook until the meat is golden brown and nicely crisp on the outside and tender enough to be easily pulled apart, 3 to 4 hours.

To cook on a covered grill: Prepare a small fire of coals on the outer ends of the grill (or heat the outer burners of a gas grill). Place the lamb in the center with no flame directly below it, and place a pan to catch the drippings underneath it. Cover the grill and cook for the same amount of time as instructed above.

To cook in the oven: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the lamb with the marinade in a baking dish, cover and cook for 2 hours. Uncover the dish and increase the oven temperature to 300°F. Continue to cook until the lamb is very tender. There should be a small amount of lamb “jus” left in the pan. If it looks like it is going to completely evaporate, add 1/4 cup water and continue cooking until done, adding more water as needed.

Let the lamb cool briefly, then pull the meat apart. Remove the fat from the pan with the drippings and save the accumulated juice. Cover the meat and keep warm until ready to serve.


To serve, in a saucepan, warm some of the mole and add the pan juices. Serve the lamb and mole with basmati rice, cilantro, tomatoes and a delicious glass of Zinfandel!

Mazzocco Sonoma Winery

1400 Lytton Springs Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448