Monday, January 26, 2009

Girl's Dining Night In

I love creating rich sensory experiences with food, whether for myself or for others. It has been the driving force behind the "Entertaining with Food and Wine" class that I conduct at Mercy.

Recently, I co-hosted a Girl's Night "In" and selected a favorite wine which was a Cotes du Rhone. My next task was to pick my recipe to pair with the wine selection.

I wanted something fairly easy, budget friendly, and homey. I selected "Risotto with Spicy Sausage" with blanched broccoli, roasted garlic and olive oil.

As I began to cook, I opened the bottle, pouring glasses for my guests and myself. The blend is 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and Cinsaults by one of my favorite producers, Santa Duc. The color is deep purplish ruby showing a full body with notes of chocolate, plum, pepper, herbs and earth.

I started on the recipe, sauteing the garlic and onions, (which forced a few tears from my eyes) before I added the spicy sausage and arborio rice.

This recipe requires you to add broth in ¼ cup increments stirring constantly, which is the only tedious part, but let me say that the rich creamy texture you end up with is well worth the effort! I finished by adding a splash of cream and Parmesan Reggiano.

As a side note: if you don't care for spicy dishes, the perfect solution would be to substitute a mild sausage for the spicy.

After plating the risotto and broccoli, I refreshed our glasses, and we popped in Sex and the City to complete our delicious evening together.

The wine really pulled the spice out of the food, at the same time balancing the richness. We finished the night as every girl's night should, with dark chocolate. I am not sure which was better the meal or just connecting with my girls, either way it was a fantastic night. I hope you are able to enjoy your dining experience as much as we did!

The Wine: 2005 Santa Duc Cotes Du Rhone Les Vieilles Vignes (old Vines)

The Recipe:
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups medium-grain white rice
- 4 to 5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
- 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup cream

Saute sausage, onion and garlic in large saucepan over medium heat until onion is tender, breaking up sausage with spoon: about 8 minutes. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add 3 cups broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue to simmer until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more broth 1/4 cup at a time and stirring frequently. Mix in 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 cup parsley 1/3 cup cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer risotto to large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Pass around remaining 1/4 cup cheese separately.

Bon Appetite !

Jacqueline Thain