IBERIAN COMFORT FOOD INGREDIENTS
Chicken, simply roasted with just a few sprinkles of salt and herbs, is one of life’s great comfort foods. Make it immeasurably better by serving it with a glass of Rioja, particularly 2007 Viña Cubillo Crianza!
Shiitake mushrooms are superb, and in season now. I’ve been sautéing them in garlic, fresh thyme and fino sherry, and tossing them with everything from lentils to pasta. For a superb comfort food dish, however, combine shiitakes, chorizo and Madeira with chicken.
See The Spanish Table’s recipe below.
New! Basque Meat Marinade. Basque Norte Restaurant in Chico, CA created this popular sauce in 1975 and has been serving it ever since. Now made commercially for them by Mooney Farms in Chico, the restaurant immerses their steaks in the marinade for 10 minutes, then cooks them on a hot grill. For more intense flavor, the meat can be marinated longer, even overnight. Also excellent on chicken, pork or lamb. Try it!
New Supplier, better flavor! Medjool dates from California. Naturally processed with no added sugar, these dates have a caramel flavor with a balanced, not overwhelming, sweetness. Excellent for snacking or serving with cheese; also used in North African tagine recipes.
Dried limes are back in stock: A relatively new ingredient on our shores, dried limes are a staple of Iranian and Persian Gulf cuisines. With a sour and musky-fermented flavor, they are made by boiling fresh limes in a salt and water brine, then drying them in the sun. They can be used whole, in soups or stews (poke the limes with a knife so the liquid can seep through and absorb the maximum flavor).
Or break up the lime and make a seasoning powder, using a spice grinder. It is excellent sprinkled on seafood, meat and especially lentils to punch up the flavor.
2013 Barco del Corneta Verdejo, Castilla y Leon $29.99) ORGANIC 100% Verdejo, made from organically grown grapes. Barrel fermented using local yeasts and aged on its lees for 8 months. With aromas of citrus and toast, this a creamy white wine. Rich, generous and weighty with concentrated and nuanced fruit flavors, this is a perfect winter white. The finish is refreshing and lifted, leaving a clean citrus note on the palate.
2013 La Cartuja Priorat ($15.99) ” (70% garnacha and 30% carinena; aged for six months in French oak): Bright violet color. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes dark berries and fresh flowers, with a spicy nuance gaining strength with air. Juicy and energetic on the palate, showing a silky texture and juicy blackberry and cassis flavors. The smooth, smoky finish shows very good clarity and a whisper of fine-grained tannins.” 90 points Stephen Tanzer
2011 Herdade de Rocim Mariana, Alentejano ($16.99) My trip to Portugal last July revealed the explosion of talented winemakers and profusion of superb wines coming out of this country right now. Herdade de Rocim fits squarely in this realm, producing excellent wines in the value-driven Alentejo region. A blend of 30% Aragonez, 20% Syrah, 15% Alicante Bouschet and 15% Trincadeira, this is a medium-bodied red that delivers an intensity of bright red fruit. With aromas of violets,dusty graphite notes, 2011 Mariana is precise, with a satiny finish. Tasty! 91 points Wine Enthusist.
2011 Viña Almate, Castilla y Leon ($20.99) Natural winemaker Alfredo Maestro seeks out neglected, high altitude vineyards around Castilla y León and works them organically, using indigenous yeasts. In the cellar, Alfredo eschews all winemaking additives, including sulfur, so that his wines simply offer up a purity of fruit and a sense of place. 2011 Viña Almate is 100% tinto fino (Tempranillo), 75% from Ribera del Duero and 25% from just outside Ribera’s boundary. Aged in neutral French oak for 2-4 months, the wine is unfined and unfiltered. Aromas of smoke and dust are balanced by lifted black currant and marionberry fruit. Earthy mushroom nuances have savory notes of wild herbs. Fresh, precise and mineral driven, it has excellent structure with fine grained tannins. This is a wine with character; savor it with jamon serrano.
CHICKEN AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS COOKED IN CATAPLANA
In this case, you are using the enclosed environment of the Cataplana to make a stew. (Cataplanas are available at The Spanish Table; their shell-like form clamps shut and holds in the moisture as ingredients cook). That means you will have to be a little patient while is stews, hidden out of sight, under the lid. While it stews away is a good time to sip some of the Madeira and a good excuse to buy something a little better than Rainwater Madeira. A 5 year old Bual or a Malmsey would be a good selection.
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 choriço (or Spanish chorizo), diced
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
1 Potato, diced
1 Bay Leaf
½ pound Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
½ pound Chicken breast, cut into strips
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
½ cup Madeira
½ cup Half-and-half
Heat oil in a large Cataplana. Cook choriço until just starts to brown. Stir in onions and potato and cook until onions are limp. Stir in mushrooms and cook until soften. Stir in chicken and salt. Pour in Madeira, clamp down cover and cook twenty minutes. Open cataplana and stir in half-and-half just before serving.