Tuesday, November 21, 2006

November Cooking With Washington Wines

I know what you are thinking, "It is November and the most popular dish is turkey and therefore, she is going to write about Pinot Noir." Not so. (However, I do have a bottle of Washington Pinot Noir that was a wine trade from Joel at Wind River Cellars I may open) And I am not going to write about how the annual November release of the Beaujolais Nouveau (third Thursday of every year from France) goes well with turkey, either.

At my house, it seems like the most popular dishes are the sides. It's all about the sides! Some of our favorites are, lots of garlic smashed potatoes (of course), brussel sprouts with shallots and bacon, and a savory corn and basil pudding to name a few. And umm - no -- we do *not* do the canned mushroom soup and canned green bean thingie casserole either unless the sauce is made from scratch and the mushrooms are fresh.

Foodies will automatically tell you that Pinot Noir is the best choice to serve with turkey but let's get adventurous. There are many varietals and blends that will go well with the Thanksgiving meal. Why limit yourself? Reisling with Aunt Ginny's sweet potatoes and Merlot with the drumstick. The Walla Walla wineries still have some wonderful summer rose's available, like Waterbrook's Sangiovese rose, that would pair perfect with turkey or ham.

For the garlic smashed potatoes I would recommend the Chardonnay from Canoe Ridge. I had an opportunity to taste this Chardonnay when Steve introduced me to Canoe Ridge winemaker, Christophe Paubert, a native of the Bordeaux region. Kate Michaud, assistant winemaker, explained to me their approach to this white grape. They blend about 60 percent barrel fermented lots with tank fermented lots with very little malolactic fermentation. Average barrel aging is about six months in 100 percent French oak. I found flavors of honeysuckle, pear, stone fruits and a pleasant mineral quality in the finish. I commented that this wine was typical of the Old World style. This crisp Chardonnay is meant to be paired with food.

Here is one of my favorite sides that I will be preparing for the big meal. I cannot take all of the credit as the original recipe comes from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook, but I have made it my own.

Corn and Basil Pudding

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
5 cups frozen corn (or fresh off the cob if you can get it]
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tbsp dried)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup (6 ounces) grated cheddar cheese (Or a blend of cheddar and mozzarella. Be sure add a generous amount to sprinkle on top)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the inside of an 8 to 10-cup baking dish.
Melt butter in large pan and saute the corn and onion over medium-high heat for about four minutes. Cool slightly. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and half-and-half in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Then add the ricotta. Add the basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the sauteed corn mixture and grated cheddar. Pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with remaining grated cheddar.

Place the dish in a larger pan and fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides of the dish with hot tap water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a golden brown. Insert knife in the center. It should result with a clean knife. Serve warm.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

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