Wednesday, September 21, 2005

~September Cooking With Washington Wines~

Walla Walla Valley wineries are known for producing elegant, yet bold Merlots. With the 2005 crush underway, it's time to dust off a few bottles of that Walla Walla Merlot you have kept stashed away and have a dinner party. If you don't have any Walla Walla Merlot in your wine stash, it's time to get some.

Check out Lecole No. 41, Northstar Winery, Pepper Bridge, Walla Walla Vintners, and Waterbrook to name a few of the excellent Walla Walla Merlots. Merlot reduction is a versatile sauce that will enhance salmon (my sister grills a Alder planked salmon that screams for this redux), prime cuts of beef or even add wild mushrooms to this redux and top over garlic mashed potatoes.

Walla Walla Merlot Wine Reduction Sauce

1 (750-milliliter) bottle Walla Walla Merlot wine
2-3 shallots, quartered (or 1 small onion, quartered)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine the wine (Yes the whole bottle. Don't you dare drink a drop.), onions (or shallots), celery, carrots and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid out, removing vegetables and bay leaf. Return the liquid to the pan, over medium heat. Whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, until the butter is incorporated, being careful not to let the sauce separate. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve, whisking occasionally. Yields: about 2 cups

Now, what wine to pair with dinner? Of course, the same Merlot!

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