Saturday, September 28, 2013

Muscat: Another Wine Pairing Option for Indian Food

Chicken Tikka Masal and Aloo Palak, paired with a Muscat

Though it was written over five years ago, my post on Pairing Wine with Indian Food continues to be one of my most visited blog posts. People seem hunger (or thirsty?) for this information, so when I find another good pairing for Indian food, I figure I ought to do a quick post to share it.

2009 Domaine de l'Oriel Muscat
Back when I wrote that older post, I was often going with Sauvignon Blanc with Indian. These days I lean toward something with a bit of residual sweetness to offset the spice. Unless I'm getting really creative, and try something like this Carmenere I blogged about. Last Saturday we had plans for Indian takeout, so the 2009 Claude Weinzorn Domaine de l'Oriel Muscat stood out from the tasting lineup at Pairings Wine & Food as a good one to grab for dinner. It proved to be a good choice!

We ordered Chicken Tikka Masala, Aloo Palak and some vegetable samosas from Ambassador Indian Restaurant in Woburn. The food was very tasty, as usual. While I'm at it, I should commend the staff at Ambassador for how attentive they are to food allergy concerns. The person who took our order went through the entire menu to note which items were safe or could be made safely for our son to have with his various food allergies. If you have food allergy issues and are in our area, you should definitely put this on your list of restaurants to visit.

Of course, this post is primarily about the wine pairing. This Muscat is from one of Alsace's top producers--a little more background can be found on this Alsace wine site. The wine has a nice full mouthfeel, a bit of mineral background and nice, ripe fruit. Not super-sweet, but just a enough touch of sweetness to serve as a nice counterpoint to the spicy food. Definitely adding this particular wine and Muscats in general to my list of wines to pair with Indian food! Have you found a favorite wine to pair with spicy cuisine like Indian? Do share, if so!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Grilled Steak with Cumin Garlic Rub

steak grilled with a cumin garlic rub served with a salad and Bordeaux
As much as I like to experiment, when your 8 year old loves something that has enough flavor to also make the grown up palates happy, you make that dish a lot! So this simple rub for grilled steaks gets made a lot here. I figured I should share before grilling season is a distant memory! Cumin, garlic and salt are the main ingredients, and depending on what you like and have on hand, you can add in some other spices as you see fit. Give it a try, and do some experimenting of your own, too!

cumin, garlic and salt ready to be combined for rub
For the spice rub
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
optional: try a pinch of cinnamon, or a 1/2 tsp of sage or other dried herb that strikes your fancy.

Steak: This amount of rub is good for about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of steak. If you have more steak, increase the rub ingredient proportionally. We've enjoyed this with sirloin, porterhouse and ribeye.

Method: Combine all of the rub ingredients. Rub it evenly onto both sides of the steak, and let it sit out at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Pre-heat your grill on medium high, spraying with cooking oil first. Put the steak on the grill, over direct heat, and close the grill. Cooking time depends on preference and thickness. I find the steaks I get come out with a nice medium rare to medium doing 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Remove the steak from the grill a bit ahead of your optimal doneness as it will continue to cook. Let it rest on a serving platter for a couple of minutes. Serve drizzled with the juices that build up on the platter. Enjoy with the a big red wine of your choice! Cabernet Sauvignon is a natural choice with steak, but a Zinfandel can also be a nice match for the spices here.

Beef with this rub also can be a good base for steak tacos, as shown below.
steak with cumin garlic rub served in a soft taco

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Callalloo: Easy Recipe for a Tasty Caribbean Green

callalloo greens being sauted in a skillet

My ears perked up when the woman next to me at the farmer's market inquired in a Caribbean inflected accent about callalloo. Back when I was working in Cambridge, a vendor at the Central Square farmer's market turned me on to this tasty green popular in the islands. And he urged me to use the meaty stems as well as the leaves, which makes it a heartier side. But it's not something I've seen at the grocery store, so hadn't made it in years. I was glad to come upon it at our local market at Spence Farm last weekend and make up a batch following this simple recipe. And yes, though its flavor is a bit different than some more familiar greens, it too tastes good with bacon!

a bunch of callalloo greens
bunch of callallo ready for prep
1 strip bacon
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
bit salt red pepper flakes
callalloo, coarsely chopped including stems
pinch of salt

chopped callalloo on a cutting board

Heat a large skillet with cooking oil on medium. When hot, add the strip of bacon and cook until nice and crispy. Remove the bacon, set on a plate with a paper towel on top to cool. Empty most of the bacon grease, leaving a bit in the pan for flavor.

Add a tbsp of the olive oil to the skillet on medium heat. Add the garlic, cook for a minute until it begins to turn golden. Gradually stir in the callalloo in batches, so that one batch begins to cook down creating room for more greens. Once all the greens are in the pan, stir to combine with the garlic and the 2nd tbsp of olive oil. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt. Saute for about 15 minutes until the greens are softened, stirring occasionally. You want to have a bit of liquid in the pan, if needed add a bit of additional oil and/or some water. White wine would be another option.

The greens are ready when nice and tender. Crumble the bacon and stir it into the greens shortly before serving. We had this along with some mashed potatoes, which was a nice combo, though rice would be a more traditional accompaniment. Though the stems have a meaty quality to them, we also enjoyed a bit of roast chicken with this dish, too. If you're looking to try a new healthy vegetable, give this one a try!
callalloo side dish served with mashed potatoes, corn and chicken