Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bold Commentaries Thanksgiving, 2010

Jane Butel and I were all set to crank out another Bold Food with Bold Wines show when disaster struck. We had been on the air for one minute when our audio was looped back into the show. We were hearing what we were saying overlaid with what we said a minute before. I was much more confusing than I usually am.

The aborted program is now scheduled at 5:30pm November 30. Since we’ve already had the Thanksgiving dinner for which Jane was to discuss recipes, I’ll cover that event here.

Jane Butel provided the menu and the recipes that we and our friends would prepare. My wife, Barbara and I had the turkey, cranberry sauce and relish, and the stuffing. We began Wednesday evening, but would have been better served starting a day earlier.

As our friends arrived, each one had the same caveat statement we did; “Gee, I hope this tastes OK, I followed the recipe.” We knew not following the recipe would earn us Jane Butel’s disapproving stare. As it happened, everything turned out great.

The appetizers arrived with Martha Burke’s herbed Chicken Liver and Pork Pate en gelee and Carolyn Flynn’s Gravlax with Sweet Honey Mustard and Pumpernickel rounds. The gravlax, a prepared salmon and dill dish went perfectly with the Gruet NV Sauvage Blanc de Blanc, a bone dry but lemon meringue pie rich sparkling wine. That was followed by a Gruet NV Blanc de Blanc extra dry sparkler that also paired extremely well. Its margarita lime flavors provided a different enhancement to the salmon and pate.

My task was the Slow Roasted Turkey with herbs and Sherry Baste, which I started late Wednesday night. After the initial high heat start, the bird is roasted at 200 degrees all night and into Thanksgiving morning. I used an Amontillado sherry which has a wonderful nut-like flavor and good body to drench our 24 pounder.

Barbara made the Blue Corn Bread first and used it as the base for two stuffings; one with Italian sausage and another with fiery green chile. Simultaneously she made the Cinnamon Scented Cranberry Sauce with Orange and the Cranberry Relish.

Jane brought the Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and the Parsnip-Potatoes Smashed with Roasted Garlic and Chipotle and made the Red Chile Gravy from the turkey drippings. Martha also brought the Tequila Teased Sweet Potatoes, and haven’t we all been teased by tequila at some point?

I chose two wines to go with the dinner, a 2002 Frattoria Scopone Brunello de Montalcino and a Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Harvest Select Riesling. Brunello is one of Italy’s great wines using a special clone of the Sangiovese grape and grown in selected portions of the town of Montalcino. It is aged and not released until five years of the vintage date.

Riesling is an excellent food pairing grape and is lightly or never oaked, providing a mouthful of ripe fruit flavors. This wine is slightly sweet or off-dry, but works wonders with food. It sidled up to the pate like country cousins and held its own against the rich flavors of the turkey. The Brunello has an appealing nose of red cherry, Italian herbs and flowers and luscious red cherry and mocha on the palate. It went faster than the Riesling; no surprise there.

The dessert of Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie with Whipped Cream would have worked with Cognac or Armagnac. No way can a wine safely handle that combo of squash, cheesecake and cream unless it has a palate-busting alcoholic haze surrounding it. Cognac will do that. I did find that the Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry married with the pie better than I’d expected. The sherry was less sweet than a port and a better pairing.

Other white wine choices that work with turkey or chicken fryers include Sauvignon Blanc and Torront├ęs. The Murphy-Goode Fume is a dependable Sauvignon Blanc that has the right smoky minerality to go with bird. Trapiche 2008 Torront├ęs at $6.50-7 is a steal. This Argentina grape is amazingly good even in inexpensive versions. I hope your Thanksgiving was just as joyous. Salud!

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