Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cooking With Wine

A bottle of rose has done more good to cure the effects of summertime heat than any other invention, short of air conditioning. Not only is rose a great internal a/c, but it gets along exceedingly well with traditional New Orleans foods. In fact, I'll wager that pound for pound, rose, but specifically rose champagne, is the number one match for a wide variety of New Orleans foods, generally.

Mad Max's latest offering is a pink wine from the affordable line of Bastianich Wines. The 2010 Rosato is made up of 100% Refosco, which is a red wine grape which traditionally makes for a very spicy wine. Here, the flavor is softer and more apt to stand up to the hot sun of an early summer evening. This Italian version of rose, had me wishing for a plate of antipasti and a view of the water. What came out of that was what I'd consider an Italian's take on Chicken Paillard. You can find the wine at Galatoire's, Swirl, Bacchanal, and Cork & Bottle where it retails for around $14 a bottle.

Chicken Paillard-Italian Style

Begin with a chicken breast per person. Pound it out until it is half an inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, slice a red onion or shallot into half moons and toss with the juice of one lemon, the zest of said lemon, and a 1/4 cup of olive oil. Pour this over the chicken breasts, toss to coat, and let it sit while you make the relish. 

Traditionally, chicken paillard is topped with romaine, a few shreds of Parmesan, thin sliced shallots, and maybe a tomato or two. What I wanted to do with this dish, is bring in the classic Italian antipasti flavors in a "topping" form.

Begin with a good selection of olives- I like the dry, wrinkly black ones, big meaty green ones, and some Kalamata. Pit each olive. To this add some thin sliced red onion, thin slices of pickled, Italian hot peppers, some oregano, and a big, plump tomato coarsely chopped. A splash of red wine vinegar will help bring it all together. 

Grill your chicken over a medium heat. Six minutes per side should be sufficient. Top with the relish mixture, a few slivers of salty, Italian cheese (I had Pecorino in the house), and a few leaves of basil. Simply perfect, the food and wine give air conditioning a run for its money. 

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