[image via Madame Fromage]
Winter brings out the comfort food craving in us all. Rich, savory dishes, cooked long, low and slow, savored at the table on a chilly evening. Red Bordeaux wines are a perfect match for this cuisine. Their solid acidic structure and elegant and not overpowering body will pair with the rich, dense flavors of winter fare, without detracting from the pleasure of the food itself. The protein heavy nature of comfort food is balanced nicely with the tannins and acids of Red Bordeaux wines.
Wine buff Rob Moshein shares his Cassoulet recipe (a rich, slow-cooked casserole) and favorite wines to match:
[serves 6-8 or 4 with delicious leftovers]
· 4 cups dried white beans, flageolet or cannelini
· ½ pound not-too-smoky slab bacon
· ¼ thick sliced prosciutto or pancetta
· Small bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped, stems saved
· 10 sprigs fresh thyme
· 2 bay leaves
· 3 whole cloves
· Salt and black pepper
· 1 pound boneless beef for stew, cut into 1-inch cubes
· oil or fat as needed
· 2 medium onions, sliced
· Duck confit (if you can’t find this, roast two whole turkey thighs and reserve)
· 8 garlic cloves, peeled
· 2 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
· 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
· ¼ teaspoon cayenne
· ½ pound garlicky sausage, preferably in one piece
· 1 cup bread crumbs
1. Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the beans. Remove from heat and let soak for 1 hour.
2. Cut the bacon slab and prosciutto or pancetta each into 4 large chunks and cover in water in another saucepan; turn the heat to medium, and when the water boils, turn it down to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.
3. Make a bouquet garni by combining the parsley stems, thyme, bay leaves and whole cloves in a piece of cheesecloth and tying it into a bundle. Add it, along with the bacon/prosciutto, to the beans; bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, skimming occasionally, until the beans are just tender, 45 to 90 minutes. (Add water if necessary; ideally the beans will be moist but not swimming
when they’re done.) Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste if necessary.
4. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Put 3 tablespoons oil or fat in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the beef
and brown the pieces well. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 or 6 minutes; turn off heat.
5. Remove the duck confit or turkey from the refrigerator and scrape off the fat; debone and shred the meat. Add the meat and garlic cloves to the pot with the beef, along with 2 cups chicken stock, chopped garlic and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is very tender, 1 to 1½ hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
6. When you’re ready to assemble the cassoulet, discard the bouquet garni. Cut the fat from the meat and cut the meat into small pieces.
7. Heat 2 tablespoons oil or fat in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the sausage and cook, turning as necessary until well browned; transfer to a cutting board and slice into quarter-inch rounds.
8. Heat the oven to 375° F. Transfer the beans to a large enameled cast-iron pot with a slotted spoon to leave behind most of the cooking liquid. Add the sausage and bacon on top, then half the duck-and-lamb mixture; gently stir to blend well.
9. Put the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer, uncovered, then turn off heat. Cover with bread crumbs and chopped parsley leaves and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325° F.
10. Bake the cassoulet until it’s hot, bubbling and crusted around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes; add a little water or stock if it starts to look too dry. Then, enjoy!