ANDREA’S A-LIST NOVEMBER 2008 HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN….As this month’s wines are making their way to you, I wanted to pass along my best-of list of holiday tips and pairings. Some are from club members themselves, others from chef friends, and some are from my own bag of tricks. Here goes: The Big Bird – Moist & Juicy – It’s a must to brine the bird overnight. Submerged in a saltwater bath, the (thawed) turkey will become infused with extra moisture to handle the oven’s heat without drying out. Use ½ cup salt per gallon of water, dissolved. Put the submerged bird in a big bucket or stockpot, in the fridge. Roast the light and dark meat separately. It is easy to separate the leg quarters from the breast quarters by cutting through the side cavity, and then making one cut through the back. This is what restaurants that serve roast turkey at the holidays do, and it works great! You can remove each section when it’s cooked (165º Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat) and let it rest 30 minutes before carving so the juices don’t run out. Golden Brown – Before roasting, slather the bird all over with room temperature butter, spreading it evenly with your hands into every nook and cranny. Salt and pepper well, inside and out. Roast in a preheated 500º oven for the first 30 minutes to facilitate browning. Reduce to 325º for the rest of the roasting time. Roasting is much faster with the bird separated in two – about 1 ½ - 2 hours total time depending on the size of the bird. Enjoy! Best Bargain Bubbly – Go with cava from Spain. Marques de Gelida is incredibly festive in a saffron-colored bottle, and delicious. Aria Brut is also a beautiful package, and under $10 in a lot of markets. To make a festive cocktail, add a splash of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice – tasty, beautiful and good for you! Easy Appetizer – For me, a cheese platter is the ultimate no-brainer treat to serve for entertaining. It makes a great hors d’oeuvre/cocktail party option, as well as a delicious and sophisticated alternative (or supplement) to dessert at a sit-down dinner. The right selection of cheeses can make it a knock-your-socks-off experience that enhances the wines you are serving immeasurably. Here’s the lineup I’d suggest: 1 nutty, aged hard cheese – Manchego (Spain, sheep), Grana Padano (Italy, cow) or Fiscalini’s bandage-wrapped Cheddar (California, cow) 1 soft, not-too-tangy goat cheese – Selles-sur-Cher (Loire Valley), Sally Jackson Goat (Washington), or Humboldt Fog (California) 1 washed-rind, runny but not-too-pungent cheese – Camembert (French, cow) or Brebiou (Italy, sheep) 1 blue – Maytag blue (America, cow), Roquefort (France, sheep), Cabrales (Spain, sheep) 1 semi-firm tomme-style cheese (a mild, creamy cheese that’s wonderful with most any wine; usually cow’s milk) – Tuma di Paja (Italy), Tomme des Pyrenees (sheep), Tomme de Savoie (France) With the season’s holiday dinners in many households anchored by a traditional protein (turkey, goose, crown roast, etc.), for this month’s recipes I am focusing on side dishes that love wine.
DELILLE CELLARS CHALEUR ESTATE BLANC, COLUMBIA VALLEY 2007
Ah, DeLille! This is one of my favorite wineries not just in Washington, but in the world. Winemaker Chris Upchurch just seems to have the magic touch. Wine experts have often described the best of Washington’s wines as having ―new-world ripeness of fruit, with Bordeaux-like subtlety and terroir.‖ DeLille’s wines take that concept to a whole new level. This Bordeaux blanc-style white is a perfect example of that. Like white Bordeaux, which is one of my favorite wine styles, it is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with a substantial proportion of Semillon – 32%. The Semillon gives a toasted almond quality as well as an exotic, waxy-citrusy creaminess, reminding me of lemon curd, lemon yogurt and buttermilk. The Sauvignon Blanc contributes a wild herb component and ripe pear flavors. Barrel fermentation and aging lends sweetness to the fragrance and richness to the palate. While it is delicious and incredibly complex now, the wine will handsomely reward cellaring of 5-7 years. It perfectly compliments the hint of herbs, and the earthy-creamy-sweet spiciness of this bisque. If you want to make it ahead for a holiday dinner party, leave out the milk, cream and spices, and refrigerate. Just before serving, reheat and add the cream and milk.
HERBED SWEET POTATO BISQUE WITH PEARS SERVES 6
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 small onion, peeled and diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme plus additional and/or optional garnish 2 large pears, peeled, cored, and chopped 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced 5 cups turkey, chicken, duck, or vegetable stock ¾ cup milk ½ cup heavy cream ½ teaspoon ground cumin Large pinch cinnamon Large pinch ground cloves Coarse salt and freshly ground white or black pepper 1. In a large pot set over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft but not colored, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the pears, sweet potatoes, and stock and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool. 2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot. Stir in the stock, milk, cream, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves, and reheat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 3. Serve garnished with chopped thyme, if you like.
JUS SOLI PINOT NOIR, MENDOCINO 2005
There is surely a special place in Heaven for people who can make Pinot Noir this good for such a bargain price. And you will remember from the August A-List wines, which featured Tom Garrett’s Jus Soli Syrah, that this is not dumb luck. Tom learned by doing, working at heavyhitter wineries including Turley Cellars, Joseph Phelps and Robert Mondavi, and now under wine goddess Heidi Peterson-Barrett and Revana Family Vineyards (an up-and-coming Napa Cab producer). Although much of Mendocino is warm and thus associated with bigger reds, I consistently enjoy Pinot Noirs from there, as there are some excellent Pinot Noir vineyard sources at the higher elevations, and near the west fork of the Russian River, as is the case here. The fruit character in this wine is of luscious cherry preserves, with notes of cola, tea, orange peel, sweet spices, and a whiff of earthy forest floor. This is a new soup recipe for me, adapted from Eating Well magazine, for which I write a monthly wine column. The genius move is the pumpkin seed oil drizzle. You will love the earthiness of the parsnips and, especially, the pumpkin seed oil, with Pinot Noir.
ROASTED PARSNIP SOUP
2 pounds parsnips, peeled 2 apples, peeled and diced 2 small shallots, peeled and quartered 1 Tablespoon canola oil 1 teaspoon salt approximately, divided ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2¼ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth 2¼ cup low-fat milk Pumpkin seed oil, for drizzling Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 450º F. Quarter the parsnips lengthwise and remove the woody cores with a paring knife. Toss parsnips, apples, shallots, oil, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper in a roasting pan. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until very soft and starting to brown, about 40 minutes. Puree half the parsnip mixture with broth in a blender until very smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan and puree the remaining parsnip mixture with the milk until very smooth. Add to the saucepan and season to taste with the remaining salt. Reheat the soup over medium heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with the pumpkin seed oil.
STUHLMULLER CABERNET SAUVIGNON, ALEXANDER VALLEY 2005 Elegance, fragrance and concentration – these are the hallmarks of Alexander Valley Cabernet at its best, which I am proud to present to you with this beautiful bottling. You may remember this time last year, I sent you the Stuhlmuller Reserve Chardonnay, simply one of the best California Chardonnays on the market, at any price. Based on everything I have tasted in their portfolio, this winery has a lock on its amazing vineyards, and a keen sense for coaxing the complexity and layers out of the fruit. One whiff and, while you clearly know that it’s California Cab in your glass, you also know it’s not ―typical California Cab,‖ which tends to throw two quick jabs—heady dark fruit and sweet oak, leaving your senses somewhat numbed. Don’t get me wrong – I value intensity in wine, too, but I think a great wine should offer more. (Many sommeliers would say ―less is more‖ when it comes to this kind of intensity.) This wine doesn’t beat you up – it lifts you up, awakening your senses from the first sniff. You’ll notice crushed mint, the fresh, cedary-piney, earthy scent of gliding through a snowy stand of conifers (am I yearning to ski, or what?). Dark cassis fruit, cinnamon spice, and a subtle sweetness like malted milk powder round out the scent, and echo on the flavors as well. The cedary-herb notes kick up in the finish and tease out again when you pair the wine with food. Beautiful now, and well-suited to cellaring for 5-7 years. RED WINE-ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES SERVES 6
1½ cups red wine (left-over is ok because you are cooking it anyway) ¼ oz dried porcini mushrooms 4 lbs root vegetables, peeled and trimmed (a mix of carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets and/or rutabagas) 8 oz white mushrooms, halved if large 5 shallots, quartered 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme 1 Tablespoon tomato paste Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth 4 bay leaves Preheat oven to 350º F. Place wine in a small saucepan and heat until steaming. Remove from the heat, add dried mushrooms and let stand, while you prepare the vegetables. If using carrots, cut into 3 inch pieces. If using parsnips, quarter lengthwise and remove the woody cores with a paring knife, then cut in 3-inch pieces. Cut turnips, beets and rutabagas into 1-inch wide wedges. Place the root vegetables, shallots and mushrooms in a large 15x12-inch roasting pan. Line a sieve with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and place over a measuring cup or small bowl. Strain the wine-mushroom mixture through the sieve, reserving the wine. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and whisk them into the wine along with thyme, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables; add broth and bay leaves. Cover the roasting pan with foil. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours. Uncover and continue baking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes more. Discard the bay leaves and serve.