Wed 17 Feb 2010
LL teaches on Tuesday nights in the Spring semester, so dinner duty falls to me. It’s a good opportunity to try new dishes, some of which are all right — the green lentil curry was O.K. if you like hippie commune food circa 1968 — and several of which are keepers.
A definite keeper is the Pan-Roasted Chicken with Citrus Sauce, from the January issue of Food & Wine magazine. The recipe is a simplified version of the dish created by chef John Sedlar at Rivera in Los Angeles. According to the article, Sedlar uses “a range of citrus, including Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges and pomelos,” though “the dish is just as delicious with a simple mix of navel oranges and limes.” Blood oranges would have been good, but we don’t see them in markets here until late April. And, I’m here to tell you that segmenting a lime is about as easy as picking the white off rice. Even navel oranges don’t segment that easily; they tend to shred. Satsumas, on the other hand — Citrus unshia, formally speaking — peeled and separated easily and beautifully. They’re in the foreground on the accompanying image; the frowsy-looking navel segments are in back, hiding behind the chicken. As you can see, I served the dish with a little farfalle pasta, to soak up the
Anyway, this is a terrific, intensely flavored dish, and LL heartily approved.
To drink with the Citrus Chicken, I opened a bottle of the Hugel & Fils Pinot Blanc Cuvée Les Amours 2006, from Alsace. Nothing mysterious or obscure here; Hugel’s Cuvée Les Amours Pinot Blanc is widely known and, in this house, admired. The 2006, with three years on it, delivers a muscat-like floral-oily musky-funkiness that immediately draws you, delicately yet inevitably, into its sensuous and slightly outré precincts. The wine is loaded with notes of roasted lemon and lemon curd, smoked orange rind and lime peel, cloves and ginger, all stretched upon taut strings of bright acidity that keep it fresh and vibrant. Just lovely, for drinking through 2011 or ’12, well-stored. Excellent and Great Value at about $17.
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York.
A review sample.
Last night’s Pasta alla Norma came from Jamie’s Italy (Hyperion, $34.95), a very engaging book by Jamie Oliver. This was a real winner on any scale of judgment or comparison. The preparation is pretty simple. You fry small skin-on slices of eggplant sprinkled with dried oregano in olive oil until golden brown — and I’m here to tell you that golden brown segues to black ‘n’ burned really quickly — then add some dried red chili, sliced garlic, finely chopped basil stems, a dollop of white vinegar — I used agrodolce — let that cook for a bit and then pour in a can of diced tomatoes and the juice. Give it 10 or 15 minutes to simmer and throw in some basil. Add the pasta and a little of the pasta water. Garnish with more basil, some grated pecorino and crumbles of salted ricotta. This was seriously great and intense, and I have a feeling that I’ll be cooking it fairly often.
Here I opened a bottle of the Easton Wines Zinfandel 2008, Amador County. What a classic of zinfandel purity and faceted completeness! The wine is rich and succulent, deeply spicy and flavorful yet restrained and balanced by a structure that’s stalwart and rugged without being rustic, dense and chewy without being ponderous. Black cherry and blackberry flavors, sporting an edge of molten mulberry, black pepper and crushed gravel, get earthier and fleshier, more briery and brambly with a few moments in the glass; you also feel the wood more, a slightly spicy, dark graininess, from 10 months in French oak. There’s plenty of substance here, a flirtation with black leather allure, but the wine is also clean and forthright, an eloquent and rather wild expression of the grape. Excellent and a Great Bargain at about $16.
A review sample.