It’s official… summer is over. But in many parts of the country we get to enjoy a great time of year – Fall. And it’s also time for me to get back to some posting!
In Fall the days are strikingly clear, the nights crisp and cool, and I love the crunchy rustle of the fallen leaves as you walk through them. In the vineyard the vines begin to shut down too and the leaves turn reddish rust or golden – a beautiful time to visit.
But no matter where you live Fall seems to signal that it’s also time for heartier foods and a return to the bigger style wines that go with them. If summer is a time for Zippy Whites then Fall brings me back to mouth-filling reds, so I find myself reaching for different ones that fit the season. It can be the ideal tailgate wine – California Zin, juicy Merlot from Washington, tasty Syrah/Grenache blends from the Rhone in France, lush Tempranillo from Spain, spicy Shiraz from Down-under or terrific everyday Malbec from Argentina. And, of course, there is always Cabernet Sauvignon in all of it’s kingly splendor.
Sure, that’s a pretty big list, but the tastes of Fall bring a lot of variety into the mix. At our house we’ve already chopped the carrots and chunked the beef for hearty stew, baked chicken and Italian sausage in the oven, braised short ribs, made a pot of chili, grilled thick cut lamb chops, roasted the pork all day to pull for tacos al pastor and slow cooked Osso Buco – and it’s only early October!
If you follow Sips or remember The Wine Experience then you know that my personal food and wine pairing mantra is “drink what you like.” Well I like putting many of the tastes of Fall foods together with reds that just seem to complete the package. Here’s what I mean:
- Chili and Zin. Zin adds a dash of peppery flavor and has the attitude to stand up to the multitude of ingredients, especially the tomato and peppers. Other choice: Primitivo.
- Beef stew and Merlot. Merlot’s jammy flavor seems ideal for the supple gravy and soft beef chunks, as well as the sweetness of the carrots. Other choice: Cabernet.
- Baked chicken and sausage with Rhones. The Grenache based blends of the southern Rhone bridge the mild flavored chicken and the spiced sausage. This one is interesting because we actually use white wine in cooking but I like the way the red pulls it all together when it’s time to eat. Other choice Sangiovese.
- Thick cut grilled lamb chops with Cabernet. The tannins of the Cab are like an exclamation point to the richness of the lamb. Other choice Tempranillo.
- Braised short ribs with Shiraz. I love the fruit and spice with the meatiness. Other choice Merlot.
- Osso Buco and Tempranillo. I like the acidity of the Tempranillo with the deep hearty flavor of the slow cooked veal shank. Other choice Nebbiolo.
- Tacos and Malbec. Si.
Cristina Pastina’s Chicken and Sausage
Note: Your choice on the chicken. You can use a whole chicken cut up or six split breast if you prefer just white meat.
6 split chicken breasts (bone in)
4 Italian sausages, cut in thirds
6 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
4 large carrots, peeled and cut to large chunks (3 or 4 per carrot)
1 large onion, halved and sliced
½ cup olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. oregano
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a large baking dish, pour olive oil and coat the bottom. Add the chicken and roll around to cover with oil. Arrange chicken skin side up around the dish. You may use two baking dishes if more room is needed but this will add to the cooking time.
- Pour the wine over the chicken.
- Salt and pepper each breast.
- Sprinkle oregano, garlic and bread crumbs over each.
- Arrange sausage pieces, potatoes and carrots around the dish and between the chicken.
- Cover all with the onion slices.
- Loosely cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake an additional 30 – 45 minutes to desired doneness – cooking time can vary… the tighter it’s packed the slower it cooks (don’t burn, but make sure the carrots and potatoes are cooked tender) chicken should be browned by now…if not you may broil for a moment…but watch carefully.