Pairing red wine with poultry?
It seems like every holiday season I see someone posting to a message board asking for help pairing red wine with poultry, and 90% of the time the response is Pinot Noir. Although many people default to white wine, the fact is that most Pinot Noir goes extremely well with white meats. In the past I usually turned to Oregon for the perfect pairing but lately producers in California have been turning out wonderful examples from the Sonoma Coast. Many of these new California Pinots have managed to obtain a balance between big fruit, earthy nuances and finesse. For this night’s dinner I selected a perfect example of this, an A. P. Vin, 2007 Kranzler Vineyard Pinot Noir.
As for the bird, I picked a naturally raised 11 6-8 lb. chicken. It’s amazing how your guests swoon when they hear roast chicken, but what’s even more amazing is how few people feel comfortable roasting one. Roast chicken is not as difficult as many people think and with a few tools and tricks, which I’ve provided below, you can really impress your guests with the end result.
Garlic & Herb Roasted ChickenA roast chicken, cooked to perfection, is moist and tender. In this recipe, the meat is a perfect medley of chicken, roasted garlic and rosemary with a hint of lemon. The skin is crispy and seasoned well, creating a textural dynamic against the moist and succulent meat. When put against the Pinot, the intense fruit mingles with the herbs and sweet garlic. The chicken adds complexities to the wine, and the wine cleanses the palate perfectly between each bite. Even with its medium long finish, the lush, woodsy fruit of the Pinot becomes a backdrop to the chicken, which takes center stage. On the side, I paired a simple sauté of Broccoli Rabe with garlic in olive oil, along with a braise of Crimini Mushrooms and cannellini beans in a Marsala butter sauce with roasted plum tomato. These two sides play the perfect adversaries as the bitter bite of the Broccoli Rabe is tamed by the rich earthy flavors of the braise.
So I say, surprise your friends or family with a roast chicken in the near future and pair it with a Pinot Noir. Not only will you incite your guests with nostalgic glee but I also think you’ll find a match made in heaven.
My idea of a perfect Roast ChickenThis technique may take a lot of space on a page to spell out but once you’ve tried it you’ll realize how easy it really is.
Firstly, invest in a digital instant read thermometer, which can be found in almost any home and kitchen store. Once you own one you will always wonder how you ever lived without it. The fact is that the thermometers roasts come with from the supermarket are completely unreliable, hence the reason we end up with a lot of overcooked poultry at holiday meals. Imagine never having to guess if your roast is done and never making the fatal mistake of overcooking to dryness.
My second suggestion is to not only season the skin of the roast but to also season under the skin. It’s really not as hard as it sounds. I’ve supplied a recipe below for a garlic and herb rub, which is applied under the skin. While the roast is cooking, the garlic and herbs are shielded from the overwhelming heat of the oven, allowing them to cook perfectly as they are steamed by the juices of the bird. The flavors intermingle during the cooking process, and the end result is a crispy skin over a perfectly seasoned and flavored piece of poultry. You don’t need to worry about basting, and you won’t even need gravy for the finished product. However, I’d never pass up the ability to turn the pan drippings and fond into a sauce.
Click here for a printable pdf file of this recipe. Serves 4 to 6
11 6-8 lbs Whole Chicken (remove neck, heart and liver from inner cavity.)
2 sprigs Rosemary
2 Tbls Canola oil
4 carrots (peeled and cut into four pieces each)
6 cloves of garlic (crushed)
3 stalks celery (rough cut)
2 onions (rough cut)
1 c Chicken stock
½ c White Wine (Remember, if don’t like drinking it, don’t cook with it.)
2 Tbls butter
Rub5 - 6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
2 sprigs Rosemary (leaves removed and chopped fine)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbls EV Olive Oil
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
Technique1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place ingredients for the rub in a Motor & Pestle and grind together until it forms a thick paste.
3. Use your hands to loosen the skin around the breast of the chicken. You should be able to slide your fingers under the skin and across each breast, but be careful not to tear the skin. Do the same around the thighs and into the legs.
4. Using your hands, take about a ¼ of the prepared rub and slide under the skin of one of the breasts. Message the rub into the meat and distribute evenly under the skin. Repeat this process with the other breast and the two thighs.
5. Place the half lemon and Rosemary sprigs in the inner cavity of the chick.
6. With a sharp knife, cut the wings from the chicken at the joint closest to the body. If you don’t do this, they will overcook. Wings serve a better purpose in the roasting pan where they will lend more flavor to the sauce.
7. Using butcher twine, tie the two drumsticks together so that they form a closure over the chicken’s inner cavity.
8. Rub the chicken down with canola oil and generously season the skin with salt and pepper.
9. Place the chicken on a roasting rack over some rough-cut vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, and garlic work great, and don’t forget those wings.)
10. If you have an instant read thermometer (which you really should), insert it into the thickest part of the breast, but be very careful not touch any bone with the thermometer.
11. Place the bird in the oven and forget about it for at least an hour. After an hour, check on it. What you’re looking for is to make sure that the skin is not browning too deeply. Once you feel that the skin is dark enough, cover the top of the bird (not the entire roasting pan) with a small sheet of aluminum foil and reduce the oven heat to 375.
12. When your instant read thermometer reads 155 degrees (it took about 2 ¼ hours for mine), pull the bird from the oven (leave the thermometer in the roast), take it out of the roasting pan and place it on a surface in your kitchen covered in aluminum foil. Don’t worry; the roast will achieve 165 degrees while resting on the countertop.
Note: this roast does not require a sauce. If cooked to perfection it will be juicy enough and tasty enough that the sauce may dull the well defined flavors but it certainly can’t hurt to have, just in case. Not to mention, it can always be used to dress a side dish, like mashed potatoes for a real family style meal.
11. To make a sauce, hold the roasting pan at an angle to allow any excess fat to collect at one side. You do not need to remove all the fat, but remove any excess with a spoon. Now place the roasting pan over the burners of your stovetop and set the burners to medium heat. Pour the wine into the pan and use a spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan as the wine cooks down. Next add the chicken stock and continue to cook until a sauce begins to form. Season lightly and taste. You’ll probably find the acidity to be a little high but the butter in the next step will help even that out.
12. Pour the contents of the roasting pan through a strainer and into a bowl to collect the vegetables and any solids. The solids can be thrown away at this time. Add the two tbls butter to the jus and stir to bring it together. Taste and season again if necessary.
13. Slice your chicken onto warmed plates, dress it with the sauce if desired and serve.