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Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash by Meredith Griffin

Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash by Meredith Griffin

This recipe has evolved into what it is today over several years of tinkering with it.

The first time I made this, it was, well let’s say very bland that even my mom and dad were unenthused, and they tend to enjoy most things I make. It’s perfect for a crisp autumn evening because it’s hearty enough to satisfy, but still nutritious! On a chilly night, I’m pairing it with the Three Places Pinot Noir, but if you’re not ready for a red I think it will also pair nicely with the Stormy Edges Chenin Blanc-Viognier White Blend.

Ingredients for two people

  • 1 large acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped out
  • ½ lb ground turkey
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Olive oil
  • Assorted dried or fresh herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano (if using fresh, you’ll want about 1tbsp of mixed herbs diced and if using dry about 2 tsp of mixed herbs)
  • Salt and pepper
Preparation
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°.
  2. Spray flesh side of acorn squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook squash flesh side down for about 30mins or until fork tender (*see notes)
  4. Once the squash is cooked, remove from the oven and let cool until able to handle.
  5. While squash cools, heat a sauté pan over med-high heat, add about 1 tsp oil and then add the onions. Cook until onions have softened (**see notes).
  6. Then add mixed herbs and ground turkey. Using a wooden utensil, break up the turkey as it cooks and cook thoroughly until meat is browned (about 10-15 mins).
  7. While turkey is cooking, use a spoon to remove some of the flesh from inside the acorn squash and place in a bowl. Be sure to leave some flesh so the squash doesn’t flatten.
  8. Break up the squash with a fork and then add cooked turkey mixture to squash and combine thoroughly. Add about half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, toasted chopped pecans and salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Divide the mixture back into each half of the squash shells and top with the remaining grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  10. Return to oven for about 5-7minutes while you uncork the wine and pour into glasses.
Notes
*The acorn squash can also be cooked in the microwave. Cook flesh skin down in a microwave-safe dish with about a tbsp of water in the dish for about 10 minutes or until fork tender.
**If while cooking the onions, more liquid is needed added 1tbsp of unsalted chicken broth or water as needed.

Why these wines

Acorn squash is not as sweet as some of the other winter squash varieties and absorbs any added flavorings and seasonings very well. Turkey can lack depth of the flavor and needs the boost provided from the sauteed onions, herbs and cheese. So while this dish is flavorful, it is not bold or overpowering. Thus, the wine to mirror it needs to be lighter and delicate, like Pinot Noir.

Lighter Corn Chowder Paired with Chardonnay

Lighter Corn Chowder Paired with Chardonnay

As the summer season ends and the fall begins, soup starts making its way back into the weekly dinner rotation. I first made this recipe several years ago when I began the tradition of preparing a three-course dinner, each paired with a different wine for our anniversary celebration. I served it at room temperature, which I really enjoyed, but my husband prefers it served hot so you can choose.

This soup is delicious with either the Wine Snob* or Unwined Chardonnay or with a White Burgundy.

Ingredients for 2 people

4-5 Ears of fresh corn (or a 16oz bag of frozen corn)

1 Shallot, diced

1 tsp fresh thyme

3 cups vegetable broth (or low sodium chicken broth)

½ avocado, diced

Handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half

Splash of lime juice

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Optional, 2 ounces cooked crab

How to prepare:

  1. Carefully remove the kernels from the cob into a bowl.
  2. Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Once warm add shallots, salt and pepper. Cook until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add corn kernels (hold back about ½ cup), broth and cooked shallots to a blender and puree until the mixture is creamy.
  4. Return mixture back to pan shallots were cooked in along with the remaining corn kernels. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  5. Meanwhile, combine avocado, tomatoes, lime juice and if using, crab in a small bowl.
  6. When ready, portion chowder into two bowls and evenly top with avocado mixture.
  7. Uncork the bottle and enjoy!

*I’ve also grilled the corn to add a little bit of that smoky flavor before removing the kernels. The key is to only cook it until al dente rather than all the way.

 Why these wines:

Although this soup is not made with cream, it has a creamy texture, which pairs deliciously with the creamy texture of these Chardonnays. The green apple and citrus notes in these Chards also lend some acidity which helps cleanse the palate after each bite, so that each subsequent bite is just as tasty! The sweetness from the corn is why this wine would not pair well with a full body red wine. 

Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salad Matched with Unwined or Wine Snob* Chardonnay or an Albariño by Meredith Griffin

Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salad Matched with Unwined or Wine Snob* Chardonnay or an Albariño by Meredith Griffin

I accidentally stumbled upon this recipe several years ago when I was missing an ingredient I needed for another recipe so I threw this together. It ended up being delicious surprise! It’s very satisfying on its own, but it can also be a nice addition to a piece of grilled fish or shrimp cocktail.

 Ingredients

  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh corn cut from the cob (or frozen corn)
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • Juice from one lime
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 How to prepare:

  1. Cook brown rice according to package.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tsp oil and onion. Sautee onion until soft and translucent. Add corn and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add black beans and cook until warmed. Combine in large bowl with brown rice.
  3. Mix balsamic vinegar, lime juice, 1-2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Once you have the desired flavor, add the avocado and mango and gently combine.
  4. Add avocado and mango mixture to bowl with rice, beans, corn and onion and gently stir until combined. This salad can be served warm or room temperature.

 Why these wines?

This salad has many layers with the creamy texture of the avocado and black beans, a hint of sweetness from the mango and acidity from the lime juice and balsamic vinegar, so the wine needs to also have some of these components. Ideally the wine will have a creamy full-body texture balanced by some bright acidity, so it won’t taste bitter with the acid in the salad.

One golden rule in wine and food pairings is— acid likes acid. Thus, if there is acid in a dish the wine must also have ample acidity. Chardonnays are usually lower acid wines, but both the Unwined and Wine Snob have enough acid for this salad because it’s offset by the creamy avocado and black beans. Albariño is also delightful pairing for the same reason.