While visiting Castello di Volpaia last fall, I couldn’t help but notice that Giovanna Stianti, the proprietor of Volpaia, also ran a cooking school on the premises. Now, I couldn’t help but notice it because November, not exactly known as prime time for tourism, sees very few visitors to the Volpaia compound. In fact, I had to wander around the grounds for a good half hour before finally finding the office.
During my wanderings I happened upon Volpaia's gleaming kitchen classroom, among other facilities, as it seems that I really have a nose for stainless steel appliances. After my tour of the winemaking facilities (really, the entire village which is worth a look, as I reported in "Tasting Wines in Chianti Classico"), Giovanna and I spoke about all that is Volpaia. I inquired about the kitchen and we discussed the cooking classes while enjoying the wine, and olive oil of Volpaia.
Cooking at VolpaiaGiovanna looks forward to teaching the cooking classes whenever she can, not surprisingly focusing on the cuisine of Tuscany, wine, food pairings, and having fun in the kitchen! These cooking lessons generally last about 3 hours, and always finish with a leisurely meal under the Tuscan pergola attached to Volpaia’s Kitchen. For more information please visit Volpaia’s website.
While Giovanna’s classes are designed to teach the cuisine of Tuscany, they are also meant to be fun, so the recipes feature rustic country cooking that is delicious yet simple to prepare. These two recipes feature ingredients common to the Tuscan countryside. In this land of grapes, olives, and foraged foods, a meal made without olives or mushrooms might come as quite a shock.
The dishes work as a wonderful foil for the Volpaia Chianti. The acidity of the wine is tempered by the richness of the olives and the béchamel, and the fresh fruit of the wine is drawn out by the contrasting savory tones the olives and mushrooms provide. While Giovanna suggests pairing these dishes with the 2004 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva I might opt for something a little older, with more developed savory tones. That is simply my preference, though. This is a wonderful dish to pair with many reds wines, so find one you like, and let us know how it worked with your favorite wine.
Click here to download a printable PDF file of this recipe. Serves 6 as a Main Course
Ingredients1 5lb free range roasting chicken
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 lb black olives
1 lemon, halved
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 sprigs, Flat leaf Parsley
5 oz. dry white wine
Salt and Pepper
MethodPreheat the oven to 400F (200C)
Pit the olives and set aside.
Remove any excess fat from the cavity of the chicken and sprinkle with salt and fresh milled black pepper. Fill the cavity with the olives, garlic, half a lemon, and the parsley. Truss to close.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the outside of the chicken and rub the skin with the olive oil.
Place the chicken, breast side down, in a heavy roasting pan and transfer it to the preheated oven.
Cook for 30 minutes then turn over to brown the breast for a further 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add the wine to the cooking juices, stir well and cook over low heat until the wine is reduced by half. Check the seasoning and adjust as needed.
Presentation: Carve the chicken and arrange on a serving platter. Pour the cooking juices over the chicken, garnish with the olives and serve paired with the 2004 Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva.