Friday, April 19, 2013
When Wine Is In The Food
At the Barras household, wine fulfills a variety of responsibilities as a food item. First, virtually every night wine will accompany whatever we’re having for dinner. Water, beer or other beverages simply don’t elicit the same level of emotional and sensual satisfaction. Second, when it comes to summertime grilling, most of our marinades are made from scratch, and quite often wine is one of the key ingredients. Third, when autumn or wintertime braises or stews are bubbling in the oven, a healthy dose of dry wine, red or white, is frequently part of the recipe. Fourth, for anytime of the year, our roasting pans are typically deglazed to yield a palate-pleasing savory, finishing sauce.
Alternately, if you’re grilling chicken or pork then substitute a dry white wine for the red and proceed accordingly. Dry white vermouth, a bottle of which always resides in my fridge, is my “go to” cooking white wine. With aromatic herbs and spices as part of its profile, it brings an interesting flavor nuance to many dishes. Realistically, though, any aromatic, dry white wine will do the deed. Sauvignon blanc, Viognier and Albariño are all good options, since their underlying qualities will show up nicely on the meat. Gewürztraminer and Riesling are good choices if you want fruity “spice box” nuances.
As for deglazing roasting pans—that largely misunderstood and underutilized culinary finishing touch— nothing is simpler than pouring or dabbing off the accumulated fats from the bottom of the roasting pan, adding some broth and a splash of wine and then scraping up the caramelized bits while you simmer and thicken it all with a tablespoon or two of a corn starch and water solution. You will be amazed by the depth of the flavors that come off the bottom of that roasting pan! This works for virtually any item that is dry, oven-roasted that yields caramelized drippings—chicken, beef or lamb. This routine is worth researching and learning. It pays big dividends.
Lastly, the above examples are offered to remind you that wine is a food item that offers many modes of gastronomic enjoyment. If nothing else, they also demonstrate how to deal with that periodic, but very minor dining issue: what to do with last night’s unfinished bottle of wine? Re-cork it, place it in the fridge, and put it to use in subsequent dinners.