Category Archives: Wine

Braised Chicken with Tuscan Kale and Andouille Sausage

chicken and kale.jpgA traditional Italian dish of braised chicken nestled in a bed of earthy kale and sweet red peppers makes a perfect combination with the spiciness of Louisiana Creole andouille sausage, giving you a one-skillet meal packed with lots of flavor!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:
6 chicken thighs on the bone with skin, about 2 pounds total
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly black ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bread
1 large sweet onion, quartered, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
7 ounces fully cooked andouille sausage, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 cups (10 ounces) roughly chopped Tuscan kale*
½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth

For the Crostini:
6 thick slices French or Italian bread
3 tablespoons crumbled feta
Fresh chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Directions:
Season chicken generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large (14-inch) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, in single, uncrowded layer. (Use two pans if necessary.) Cook until nicely browned and skin is crisped, about 12 minutes. (Turn on the exhaust fan and use a splatter guard to keep mess to a minimum.) Flip chicken; brown the other side, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate skin side up so it stays crispy.

Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet. Add onion and red pepper. Cook, stir occasionally, over medium heat until onion is nicely golden, about 8 minutes. Add sliced sausage and garlic; cook, 1 minute. Stir in kale. Cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine to mix well. Nestle the chicken, crispy skin side up, into the kale mixture leaving the skin uncovered. Cook, uncovered, on low until chicken juices run clear, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat broiler. Brush bread slices on both sides with olive oil. Broil bread, 4 inches from heat source until golden, about 1 minute. Flip; top with a little feta cheese. Broil the second side until golden, about 30 seconds.

Sprinkle chicken with parsley leaves. Serve chicken with the bread for mopping up all the pan juices.

*Cook’s Note:
Polish sausage can be substituted for the andouille for a milder dish. Cleaned and cut Tuscan kale, also known as black or lacinato kale, is sold in 10-ounce bags at some grocers. If Tuscan kale is not available in your local area, you can substitute 2 small bunches (about 1 pound total) kale, then trim off tough stems before cutting into 2-inch pieces.

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Poulet Basquaise

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Poulet Basquaise (Basque-Style Chicken)

When most people think of the Basque Country, they think of Spain.

Bilbao began the so-called Guggenheim effect. You see, the opening of the GuggenheimGuggenH.jpg Museum in Bilbao in northern Spain in 1997, shows how an imaginatively designed museum commissioned by an energetic mayor can help turn a city around. Visitors’ spending in Bilbao in the first three years after the museum opened raised over ($110m) in taxes for the regional government, enough to recoup the construction costs and leave something over.  In 2012, more than 1m people visited the museum, at least half of them from abroad. This was the third-highest number ever, so the building continues to attract visitors even though the collection on display is modest. Other cities without historic cultural centers now look to Bilbao as a model for what vision and imagination can achieve……hence the “Bilbao Guggenheim Effect”.  In addition, San Sebastián has all those Michelin star restaurants. And Pamplona, notoriously, lets bulls run through its streets once a year.week-pamplona_2611466b.jpg

The Basques are an ancient people who have inhabited this territory for thousands of tt2years.The Basque Country is made up of three distinct  administrative regions (the Autonomous Communities of the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain and the Northern Basque Country in France)  and  seven provinces, three of which are in southwestern France.

44MapBasquecolToday, the Spanish part is an autonomous region with a Basque government, while the French part answers to the central government in Paris. The Spanish side has had a strong independence movement, which has lately been eclipsed by Catalonia’s. At the height of its activity in the latter part of the last century, ETA, the Basque separatist group, did most of its fighting on the Spanish side, saving the French side as a hideout…….but I digress. That is another history lesson for another time.

Basque cuisine is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other. The great mountainous nature of the Basque Country has led to a difference between coastal cuisine dominated by fish and seafood, and inland cuisine with fresh and cured meats, many vegetables and legumes, and freshwater fish and salt cod. The French and Spanish influence is strong also, with a noted difference between the cuisine of either side of the modern border; even iconic Basque dishes and products, such as txakoli from the South, or Gâteau Basque (Biskotx) and Jambon de Bayonne from the North, are rarely seen on the other side.

Basques have also been quick to absorb new ingredients and techniques from new settlers and from their own trade and exploration links. Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal created a chocolate and confectionery industry in Bayonne still well-known today, and part of a wider confectionery and pastry tradition across the Basque Country. Basques also embraced the potato and the capsicum, used in hams, sausages and recipes, with pepper festivals around the area, notably Ezpeleta and Puente la Reina. And last but not least, in keeping with the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is more commonly used than butter in Basque cooking.

And with all of that local produce  available to the Basque, it is no wonder that Poulet Basquaise  or Chicken Basquise (or Basque Chicken)  is a local favorite. Chicken Basquaise is a dish that defines the simple elegance of French Basque cooking.

So, I know you are asking, “exactly what is Chicken Basquaise”?  Well, first of all, a basquaise is a type of dish prepared in the style of Basque cuisine that often includes tomatoes and sweet or hot red peppers. Chicken Basquaise originated in the town of   Soule . Originally consisting of vegetables and bread, this dish typical consists of  browned chicken pieces, then cooked in a casserole with a Pipérade, which is a mixture of ripe tomatoes , red and green peppers, garlic, onions and Espelette pepper.

And before you start to  cook this dish, you will need to make the Pipérade before you begin.10987_piperade_3000

Pipérade trumpets the versatility of French Basque cuisine.  This simple sauté is enlivened with the local cured pork, Bayonne ham, and a spicy paprika known as piment d’Espelette. In my version of this dish, I added a little of bit of Creole smoked sausage and bacon, for smokiness. Pipérade  is  great over braised chicken and baked fish, but you can also heed Julia Child’s advice and use it to top a plain omelette. Simply divine!

Chicken Basquaise is guaranteed to make your heart sing and your belly cry out for more. This  is a dish where Espelette peppers and chicken go together like the French and kissing,…….. Chicken Basquaise is a dish to smooch over. So make it a date – Chicken  Basquaise is one meal you’ll want to enjoy and get up close and personal with!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 medium tomatoes
4 chicken quarters, leg and thigh portions, skin on
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced Bayonne ham, cut into 1/2-inch squares
4 ounces smoked sausage, sliced
4 ounces bacon, diced
4 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves, coarsely chopped.
1 medium dried bay leaf
2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons piment d’Espelette
2/3 to 3/4 cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a medium bowl halfway with ice and water. Using the tip of a knife, remove the stem and cut a shallow X-shape into the bottom of each tomato. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch until the skin just starts to pucker and loosen, about 10 seconds. Drain and immediately immerse the tomatoes in the ice water bath. Using a small knife, peel the loosened skin and cut each tomato in half. With a small spoon, scrape out any seeds, then core and coarsely chop the remaining flesh. Set aside.

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 3-1/2- or 5-quart casserole or large Dutch oven.

When oil shimmers, add chicken pieces in a single layer (do this in batches, if needed) and let cook until very brown, turn, and repeat until pieces are well-browned all over, about 10 minutes per batch. Remove browned pieces to a plate and set aside. Discard excess oil and wipe out the pot with paper towels.

To the same pot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the ham, smoked sausage and bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat mixture to a plate and set aside.

Return the pan to heat, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, and, once heated, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring rarely, until soft and beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Stir in the herbs and pepper slices and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring rarely, until the peppers are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Add the chicken stock. Stir in the diced tomatoes, meat mixture, and piment d’Espelette. Return the chicken to the pot.  Reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes.

To serve, remove the bay leaf  and sprinkle fresh parsley over the chicken. Serve with rice or potatoes, on the side, if desired.

Suggested wine pairing: Domaine Ilarria Irouléguy Rouge, France.

Go all-in on the Basquaise with a not-well-known Basque wine. Made from a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Irouléguy’s not a delicate wine, but nor is it as big as wines made with these varieties in the New World. Its smoky flavor and dark fruits will merge nicely with the rustic onions, garlic, and red Espelette peppers in the sauce!

Cook’s Notes:
The traditional recipe calls for 2 pounds fresh cubed tomatoes, but one 14-ounce can of whole peeled canned tomatoes can  also be used as a substitute, in this recipe.

It is also a tradition to use a  3- to 3-1/2-pound broiler chicken, cut into 8 pieces, for this dish. You can always  ask your butcher to cut up the chicken for you at your local grocery store.

Bayonne ham is a cured ham product from the French Basque country. If you can’t find it in your local area, you can always use prosciutto or bacon.

Piment d’Espelette is France’s only native pepper, and it is so highly revered that it is protected by AOC status. It has a nice heat and is worth seeking out at a gourmet grocery or online. If you have trouble finding it, you can substitute cayenne pepper or paprika.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

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Chicken Clemençeau

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This dish is one of the famous chicken creations of New Orleans, along with Chicken Bon Femme , Chicken Pontalba, and Chicken Rochambeau. It’s named for Georges Clemençeau (1841-1929), a French statesman who became the French Premier in 1906. He served as theabout-romania-and-her-people-georges-clemenceau.jpg Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. In favor of a total victory over the German Empire, he militated for the restitution of Alsace-Lorraine to France. He was one of the principal architects of the Treaty of Versailles at the France Peace Conference of 1919. Nicknamed “Père la Victoire” (Father Victory) or “Le Tigre” (The Tiger).

My dish is based on version that was first  served at but Galatoire’s , one of the  grandest and oldest Creole restaurants in  New Orleans. Galatoire’s  was founded in 1905 by Jean Galatoire, and distinguished itself on Bourbon Street from its humble beginnings. From the small village of Pardies, France, Jean Galatoire brought recipes and traditions inspired by the familial dining style of his homeland to create the menu and ambiance of the internationally-renowned restaurant. In its fifth generation, it is the Galatoire family and descendants who have carried the tradition of New Orleans’ fine dining restaurants and influenced its evolution.
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So how did this dish come  about ? Well, Clemençeau is credited with bringing France from the brink of defeat to victory in World War I. In part, he did so by convincing the Allies to unify their efforts through the leadership of a supreme commander, previously unheard of among nations of the day.Equally unheard of was the amalgamation of chicken, fried potatoes, garlic, mushrooms, and canned peas into a single dish, as was achieved at Galatoire’s in the 1920’s to delicious effect. And so the dish was  named  in his honor.

At once glamorous and homey, the nostalgic dish  is still on the menu at many old-line dining rooms in New Orleans, an enduring favorite that deserves to be revisited. Authenticity requires using a young fowl known as a poussin or a spring chicken, but it is fine to substitute a small fryer or even boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

And with that in mind, I made a few variations  to the original recipe. Chicken breast were used here, mainly because it was what I had on hand at the time. Also note that Brabant Potatoes, are usually fried, and in this  recipe, I baked them instead with great time  saving results.The original  recipe also called  for  canned baby peas (petit pois), but  I opted for fresh baby green peas, lightly blanched, because I  like bright  vegetables on my plate.

To complete  this meal, serve this dish with a full-bodied Chardonnay.

Bon Appétit!

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 chicken breasts, lightly pounded
2 cups mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 small white onion, chopped
2 scallions, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Yukon Gold  potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
1 cup fresh petite green peas, blanched

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 400 º F.

Toss the diced potatoes in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and into the oven for 35 minutes, occasionally turning them with a spatula for even browning.

When the potatoes are almost golden brown, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter, and 1 tablespoons of the oil in an ovenproof skillet. When the fat is bubbling and hot, add the chicken breasts, which have been seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper, brown quickly on both sides, remove to a plate.

In the same hot pan add the mushrooms, saute until golden brown. Add the onions and garlic, season with a little salt and pepper, saute until the onions are almost tender and have some color. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoons  of the parsley.Place the chicken back in the pan and cover with some of the “sauce.” Place in the oven until the chicken is just cooked through.

To serve, divide the Brabant potatoes between two warmed plates, making a pile in the center, place a chicken breast on each.Melt the remaining butter into the sauce, and fold in the peas until just warmed through. Divide the sauce over the two chicken breasts and garnish with the remaining parsley.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

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Photo Credit:  Chris Granger, 2014

According to my Grand, “The secret to a great gumbo is that it takes as long as it takes—It’s  time that makes it good.”

And just in time, here is a chicken gumbo recipe you can  prepare for Mardi Gras!

The real star of this dish is the Sauternes wine used to braise the chicken in this classic gumbo dish.  I used a 2011 Le Tertre du Bosquest Sauternes for this recipe. This barrel-aged Sauternes features a beautiful, brilliant, golden-yellow color and an attractively fresh bouquet with delightful hints of vanilla, peach, citrus fruit, and honey. Smooth and powerful on the palate, this delicious Sauternes has mandarin orange and quince flavors, and a slightly botrytised aftertaste. When using a good quality Sauternes, what you will get is a get a rich, balanced liquid for the gumbo, and plenty of tender poached chicken meat.

If you cannot find a good quality Sauternes in your neck of woods, your favorite white zinfandel or a riesling are excellent substitutes.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
One 3 pound chicken, cut up into 8 pieces.
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground Black Pepper, to taste
3 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 Tablespoons Lea & Perrin Worcestershire sauce
1 1 pounds andouille sausage (or smoked sausage or kielbasa)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
4 cups water
4 cups Sauternes wine (or a white zinfandel or a riesling)
1 12 teaspoon  filé powder
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving

Directions:
Season chicken lightly with salt and black pepper, cover and set aside in the refrigerator. For best results, let the chicken stand over night to get seasoned. Slice the sausage into 1/4 to  1/2-inch rounds; cover and set aside.

To make the roux, heat oil in a Dutch oven that is very clean over high heat until the the oil should  begins to shimmer – and gradually begin to stir in flour, using a long-handled wooden spoon. The roux will take about 3 to 4 minutes to cook and must be stirred constantly so that it does not burn. If you see black specks in the roux, it has burned and you must start over again.

As you make the roux, it will change in color from cream to blonde, from tan to brown and then to dark chocolate red-brown. Remove from heat. Stir in the garlic, onions, green peppers, celery and Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly until roux stops getting darker. Bring to stove once more, and cook over low heat about five to seven minutes, stirring constantly until the onions are transparent.

In a another large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil remove from the heat  and add  to the roux in the Dutch oven, stirring to dissolve the roux thoroughly. Add the Sauterne wine. Add the cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Carefully add chicken and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook about 35 to 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken, and set aside to cool.

De-bone the chicken, and cut into bite-size pieces. Add sausage, to the Dutch oven, and simmer for another 35 to 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt, as needed.

Stir in the chicken, and remove the gumbo from the heat. Skim the surface to remove the fat that the sausage renders during cooking.

For best results, cover and store the gumbo in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day,  remove the gumbo from the refrigerator and stir in the filé powder. Bring the gumbo to a boil and then reduce and simmer the stew for 25 to 30 minutes.

Garnish with parsley and serve over rice with French bread.

Laissez le bon temps rouler , ché!

 

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Photo Credit: The 99 Cent Chef, 2011

 

Cook’s Notes:
Considered to be one of the finest white wines in the world, Sauternes is a French sweet wine from the Sauternes is region of the Graves section in Bordeaux.

sauternes.jpgAs in most of France, viticulture is believed to have been introduced into Aquitania by the Romans. The earliest evidence of sweet wine production, however, dates only to the 17th century. While the English were Bordeaux’s main consumer since the Middle Ages, their primary tastes were for red claret. It was the Dutch traders of the 17th century who first developed an interest in white wine. For years they were active in the trade of German wines but production in Germany began to wane in the 17th century as the popularity of beer increased. The Dutch saw an opportunity for a new production source in Bordeaux and began investing in the planting of white grape varieties.

Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have beensautern.jpg affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. Due to its climate, Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot is a frequent occurrence. Even so, production is a hit-or-miss proposition, with widely varying harvests from vintage to vintage.

220px-Yquem99.jpgWines from Sauternes, especially the Premier Cru Supérieur estate Château d’Yquem, can be very expensive, due largely to the very high cost of production. Barsac lies within Sauternes, and is entitled to use either name. Somewhat similar but less expensive and typically less-distinguished wines are produced in the neighboring regions of Monbazillac, Cérons, Loupiac and Cadillac.

In the United States, there is a semi-generic label for sweet white dessert wines known as sauterne without the “s” at the end and uncapitalized.

On the other hand, cooking wines like sauternes date to the days when wine wasn’t something the average home cook kept on hand in the pantry.  Wines that we find on the supermarket shelves labeled “cooking wine” usually contained preservatives, particularly salt, to make them shelf-stable after opening.

Basically, the standard advice for cooking with wine is “never to cook with something you wouldn’t drink”.  Think about it, since most of us would not  want to drink salty wine, the old cooking wines are slowly  disappearing.

But for people who do not  commonly drink wine with meals, that leaves the problem of what to use in recipes that call for a small amount of wine. One handy solution is the miniature four-pack. Since a bottle is only 187ml, or about 3/4 cup, you will not waste much, and the packs usually cost $7 or less.

Since Sauternes is a sweeter wine, something like a white zinfandel or a riesling should be a good replacement, if you cannot find it at your local wine and liquor stores.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Peras al vino tinto

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This is a very typical dessert served in Spain on special occasions and during the holidays. It is a favorite among home cooks, mainly due to its ease of preparation and simplicity of ingredients that can found in the pantry.

442-2TIn addition there are many different varieties of pears, being available in your local markets throughout the year. Note that the winter pears are thicker with a rough skin that is golden yellow with brown flecks in color. They also tend to be more aromatic and acidic flavor and the texture of the pulp tend to be grainy. To make this dessert, the best pears are bell-shaped, such as the Bartlett variety that is tender and juicy, or the Abate Fetel that is found in Spain and Italy.

A favorite native variety of Italy that was bred by a group of monks in the 15th century, the Abate Fetel pear is a very special delicacy. Tall and slim with an attractive yellowish brown russet over green exterior, it has a rich sweet taste that is much more pronounced than the more common Anjou and Bartlett varieties. Usually eaten when just barely soft, the Abate Fetel pear has a slightly crisp yet melting texture. It is excellent for baking as well as eating out of hand.Usually available from Argentina between April and May, always choose fruit that is hard to firm with no external stem punctures or bruising. Keep refrigerated as Abate pears will ripen very quickly at room temperature.

In keeping with tradition a red wine  from the Ribeira Sacra region of Spain is a favorite wine to use in this dish. Ribeira Sacra DO (Denominación de Origen) is a winegrowing zone at the heart of Galicia, north-western Spain. Its boundaries are marked roughly by the Mino and Sil rivers, both of which flow down from the Cantabrian Mountains en route to the Atlantic Ocean.

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Thousands of years before the lucrative global wine economy of today, Romans carved terraces on slopes in Ribeira Sacra that rose at precipitous angles from the rivers below. They planted vines to keep themselves supplied with wine. Over the centuries, monks expanded and maintained the network of vines during the Middle Ages, which was farmed by the church and by locals, for whom grapes were just one of many subsistence crops.The name Ribeira Sacra means ‘Sacred Shore,’ which most likely references the numerous monasteries in the area.

The landscape of the region is dotted with Romanesque architecture, and the steep slopes and canyons overlooking the two rivers are dominated by beautiful banked terrace vineyards. Here, gradients can reach up to 85 percent, making vineyard work laborious or heroica (heroic), as it is known locally. The Ribeira Sacra area, which today covers around 1200 ha (2965 acres), was accorded DO status in 1996.

Unlike most Spanish reds, these are cool-climate wines, defined as much by the 220px-Uva_Menciarainy, temperate Atlantic coast as the soils, the slopes and the people who farm them. The reds are made predominantly of the mencía grape, which is also the basis for the reds of the Bierzo region to the east. But where the Bierzo wines tend to be denser and burlier, the best reds of Ribeira Sacra epitomize juicy freshness. These are lively, graceful wines, with the same sort of aromatic loveliness and lissome body that draws people to Burgundy and Barolo.

Ribeira Sacra excels at making wines, like the  the 2012 mencía from Algueira, which is spicy and wild, with a slatelike minerality. At $16, it the best value for a good quality of wine for this Spanish wine.

 

Pears poached in wine takes full advantage of any left over wine that is far too precious to pour down the drain. The fruit absorbs alcohol in the wine and the sugars produce a homogeneous taste and are intertwined most deliciously. When you eat the poached pears your palate will convince you that you are are drinking wine, and when you taste the syrup, you will taste the very essence of the fruit, itself. This dessert is simply divine and you must try it.

Enjoy!

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Peras al vino tinto
(Pears in Red Wine)

Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 cups of red wine (pinot noir or similar red wine)
1 cup sugar
3 whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
3 strips of lemon peel, without the pith, 1/2-inch wide
1 strip of orange peel, without the pith, 1/2-inch wide
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Bartlett or Bosc ripe, peeled pears split half and cored
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

Directions:
Boil over high heat the wine sugar, peppercorns, cloves,lemon peels, orange peel and the cinnamon stick in 1/2 cup water in a large pot for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook slowly for about 2 minutes until the mixture is slightly reduced.

Add the pears and simmer for about 15 minutes until they are tender and a knife can slide easily in the Center. The pears should take on the dark deep rich re color of the wine. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears in a large bowl and set aside.

Remove and discard the cloves, peppercorns, lemon peels, orange peel and cinnamon stick. Continue cooking the liquid over a medium-low heat, for about 30 minutes until the liquid has the consistency of a thick syrup.

Return the pears to the liquid and spoon the syrup over the pears, coating completely with the syrup hot for 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla extract and turn off heat.

To serve the dessert, place pear halves in the center of each plate Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of syrup and garnish with just a pinch of nutmeg.

Cook’s Notes:
This dessert can be eaten warm or cold according to taste, but the most typical way is to eat them are at room temperature, once they have cooled in the refrigerator. The syrup is gently re-heated and served over the fruit

Another option is to make several vertical cuts and presented as if it were a half-open ladies fan. An ideal garnish is a dollop whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, with a drizzle of the syrup.

Sweet Italian Sausages in Fennel and Tomato Sauce

A big pot of slow simmering red sauce  with meat and big pieces of fresh fennel added, gives this dish a nice, soft creaminess with the slightly bouncy  texture of sweet Italian sausages. This simple one pot meal will definitely please a hungry crowd. Enjoy!

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 sweet Italian sausages
3 fennel bulbs—trimmed, each bulb cut into 8 wedges, fronds chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
Kosher salt, to taste
One 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes, crushed ,juices reserved
1 cup dry white wine
3 pequin chiles or 2 chiles de árbol or crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Creamy polenta, for serving

 

Directions:
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add half of the sausages and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with the remaining sausages.

Add the fennel wedges to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, until the fennel is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the wine, chiles and sugar. Tuck the sausages into the sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.Uncover and simmer until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes longer.

Garnish the stew with fennel fronds and serve over polenta.

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Cook’s Notes:

The stewed sausages can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; rewarm before serving.

Small, spicy dried red Mexican pequin chiles are available at Latin American markets and specialty food stores.

If pequin or arbol chile peppers are not available in y0ur area, crushed red pepper flakes will also do as a substitute for the dried chile peppers

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor