My five-year-old son, who battles three languages on a daily basis, developed the phrase: “A long time ago.” He will use the term when describing, telling or explaining a scenario that had happened in the past. The past can range from just recently to as far as his memory will allow.
A long time ago I had a great glass of Sancerre, a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorite grape varietals grown in the Sancerre region of France. Sauvignon Blanc has, over the years, encountered a long and winding road towards achieving real respect as a grape varietal. Part of this has to do with the confusion over the name itself, sometimes confused with the name Fume Blanc, a name pioneered by Robert Mondavi in the 1970s to boost Sauvignon Blanc sales.
That said, Sauvignon/Fume Blanc is one of the most food-friendly wines made. Some of the more appealing things about Sauvignon/Fume Blanc are that it’s dry, lower in alcohol and relatively light in oak influence. It can easily support spicy and assertively flavored dishes, whereas Chardonnay, its very popular sister, falls short. It also matches extremely well with many soups and salads, which are often tricky with wine pairings. Lastly, its acidity allows it to balance higher acid foods, such as goat cheese and tomatoes, quite well.
For all of these reasons, we must pay due respect Sauvignon/Fume Blanc. We must forgive it for not being Chardonnay and allow it to be the “wild child.” We should appreciate it for what it offers — appealing aromas, a sassy fruit character and excellent balance of fruit and acidity. And don’t forget, the price of Sauvignon/Fume Blanc is very reasonable.
As a chef with the challenge of a pairing, this varietal is a no brainer. Here are a few dishes that can be used in many circumstances, but with the thought of drinking Sauvignon Blanc.
WILD MUSHROOM AND
GOAT CHEESE BRUSHETTA
Serves 6- as an hors d’oeuvre or appetizer
2 oz oyster mushrooms
4 oz shiitake mushrooms
5 oz Portobello mushrooms
1 tbs of butter
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup chicken stock
Pinch of fresh thyme
Pinch of fresh basil
Salt and red pepper flakes
16 slices of baguette
4 oz of goat cheese, room temperature
Chop the mushrooms roughly. In a large sauté pan or skillet, add olive oil and butter and sauté shallot and garlic for a min. or two. Add chopped mushrooms and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add sherry and chicken stock and cook until all liquids are evaporated, add herbs. Keep warm and set aside. Preheat broiler. Put slices of baguette on a roasting pan, spread goat cheese evenly, divide mushrooms onto baguettes. Place “brushettas” under broiler for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
ROASTED EGGPLANT AND GARLIC SOUP
1 lg eggplant (salt and pepper)
1 whole head of garlic, olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
3 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
Pinch of red chili flakes
4 1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut eggplant into 1 inch cubes, toss with salt and pepper, place on paper towel for 20 minutes, then pat dry. Transfer to a roasting pan, sprinkle with olive oil. Cut head of garlic in half, wrap in aluminum foil with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper; add “package” to roasting pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove eggplant, but continue roasting the garlic for another 35 minutes. In a large soup pot, sauté chopped onions, basil, thyme and chili flakes for 5 minutes, squeeze cooked garlic out from husk and add to the onions. Add eggplant, tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree the soup until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste.
PORK CHOP PICCATA
WITH HOT-SWEET MUSTARD/LIME SAUCE
1 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon dry tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary (crumbled)
Salt and pepper
1 tbs flour
4 Pork Chops
1tbs chopped shallots 21/2 tbs fresh lime
1/2 cup white wine
2 tspns of hot-sweet mustard
1/4 tspn Worcestershire sauce
Few splashes of Tabasco
2 tbs of drained capers
In a small mixing bowl, combine basil, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and flour, mix well. Place Pork chops on wax paper and sprinkle evenly on both sides with herb mixture. In a skillet, add olive oil, shallots and the pork chops; sauté until golden brown, turn chops and cook for another 2 minutes, add wine, lime juice, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco; let pork chops simmer for 5 min more, remove chops and keep warm, reduce sauce slightly, add capers. Place pork chops on plates and top with sauce. Garnish with fresh lime and serve with mashed potatoes.
GRILLED SALMON ROASTED POBLANO
AND CITRUS BUTTER
4 fresh salmon steaks
2 1/2 tspn Thai fish sauce or soy sauce
1 tspn Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Chili and citrus butter
1 poblano chili pepper
1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
2 tspns fresh lime juice
Minced fresh chives
Mix fish sauce, Worcestershire, lime juice and sesame oil, season with salt and pepper, add salmon steaks and marinate for 2 hrs in cooler; butter; roast poblano pepper in oven for aprox. half hour, remove peel and seeds. Place pepper in a mixer along with butter, lime juice and chives. Process for 20 seconds until smooth, season with salt and pepper, set aside. Grill marinated salmon steaks, starting skin side down for 5 minutes, turn and finish with another 3 minutes, place steaks onto serving plates. With a spoon, add a generous dollop of the poblano pepper and lime butter to each salmon steak.
Serve immediately. This dish is great served along side a salad, green vegetables or perhaps creamy polenta.
Well, I hope I inspired you to visit your favorite wine store, a pit stop at the market and a great afternoon at the stove!
If not, then just make reservations.
Chef Jan Jorgensen is the owner of Two Chefs Restaurant. For more information and reservations, call 305-663-2100.