Nacho Mama Surprise – Guest post

Part of my meandering career path found me in Chicago for several years, where I came across a direct marketing wiz named Elizabeth “Sunny” Heyer.   Little did I know she was also known as Naco Mama.  Here’s why.

Here’s a different take on nachos . . .  I used to make this when I lived in Boulder . . .from leftovers initially.  Take a baking dish and line with refried beans – a thin layer . . . then make ‘stripes’ across the beans using everything and anything that’s left over.  We started with a small piece of steak from a doggy bag, sliced, it made our first stripe.  Then we laid down some slices of leftover chicken next to it, then a stripe of sour cream, then a stripe of salsa, then some chopped veggies (any kind will do), and then… you get the drift!! One layer was different types of olives, then peppers – roasted or chili . . . depends on your taste. Once we added a stripe of rice and topped the whole dish with shredded jack cheese.  It’s fast, easy and you can put anything in it . . . I added cubed tofu to the rice and no one was the wiser – given that it was a meat eating, sprout stompin’ crowd.

Pop it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes and serve with chips on the side . . . or spoon it directly into the mouth. . .  I named it ‘Nacho Momma Surprise’  and it became a huge hit at parties . . .

I always had it with wine. . . but it goes well with beer too!

Thanks Sunny!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

Roast Chicken with Orange-Honey Glaze

I’m a huge fan of honey.  And this recipe was posted by some online wine friends currently on an extended tour of Australia.  Not only am I thoroughly jealous of their travels, but they also had the chance to don bee suits and inspect the world’s last genetically pure strain of bees. Pair this dish with some nice vegetables sautéed with sliced garlic and it makes an easy mid-week meal.

A Chardonnay works well with this dish, particularly if the oak is moderate and the acidity is good,  because it bridges across to the orange-and-honey glaze, the salt of the chicken and the vegetables, and, well, everything.  If your palate leans towards wines with a bit of sweetness, try a dry muscat or Riesling.  I think Viognier would work quite well, though look for one with alcohol below 14.5% if it’s to work well with this bright dish.

Ingredients
* Whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
* Juice of one orange
* 2 Tbsp honey
* 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce

Procedure

Pre-heat oven to 400℉.  Stir together the orange juice, honey and soy until the honey is dissolved.  Wash and thoroughly dry the chicken (some chefs recommend letting the skin dry out for a day in the refrigerator).

Baste both sides with the honey liquid. Place a rack inside a roasting pan, chicken on the rack (not touching, if possible and roast for ~50 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 185℉.

This next step is a royal pain in the patootie, but if you can baste the chicken pieces with the pan drippings every 5-10 minutes, you’ll be thrilled with the crispy skin that it creates.  Make sure the skin doesn’t burn – the sugars in the honey make it easy to do!

Cheers,
Dave the Wine Merchant
866-746-7293

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Caramelized Shallot Sauce

Early in my nascent bachelor days, when I was living on my own and on a very limited budget, this was my go-to dish whenever I needed to impress a guest. Although I’ve paired it here with a new world pinot noir, I also like the higher acidity of Burgundy or New Zealand pinots, or even an unoaked Chablis or California Chardonnay, which works better with the sharp Swiss cheese than does an oaked version of same.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

6 (~ 4-Oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts For The Sauce:
6 Slices prosciutto, fairly thick 1 Cup thinly sliced shallots
6 Slices Gruyère cheese 2 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 Cups arugula, stems removed 2 Cups dry white wine
1/2 tsp ea. salt and ground black pepper 2 1/4 Cups low-sodium chicken broth
Kitchen twine (i.e., food grade) 1 1/2 tsp Water
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tsp Cornstarch

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350°.  Place a shallow baking pan in the oven for later.

To prepare the chicken, place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap (tip, sprinkle the wrap with water to prevent sticking and splitting).  Using a meat mallet or any heavy, flat item, pound each breast to 1/4-inch thickness.  Top each chicken breast with 1 slice prosciutto, 1 slice cheese, and 1/4 cup arugula, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Fold in half (the long way) and tie with string to form a cylinder.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper as most will remain in the pan. (The chicken can be prepared up to a day ahead and refrigerated at this point.)

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat for three minutes.  Remove from heat, and cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of olive oil, then add the shallots and sauté 4 minutes or until browned. Stirring constantly, add the tomato paste and after 1 minute add the wine as you continue to stir.  Increase heat to high (you can stop stirring now) and bring to a boil, cooking until reduced to 1 cup (about 6 minutes). Stir in the broth and bring to a boil again. Cook until reduced by half (about 8 minutes).  Turn heat to low and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for three minutes. Remove from heat and coat the entire bottom with a thin layer of olive oil, then add chicken and return pan to heat, cooking until golden brown, <9 minutes total.  When ready to move the chicken to the baking pan, turn off the oven and keep warm while you finish the sauce.

When sauce is reduced by half, dissolve the cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Add to sauce, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

To serve, remove strings from each breast, top with sauce and serve with polenta, a steamed green vegetable.  I like to lean the chicken half way onto the polenta to break up the symmetry.

Bon Appétit!
Dave the Wine Merchant

866-746-7293

dave@sidewayswineclub.com

Pinot Noir with Chicken in Balsamic-Cherry Sauce

I must confess to an unabashed and obvious bridge ingredient here – the savory cherry sauce evokes pinot noir better than anything except maybe cranberries.  Come to think of it, cranberries would be a good experimental substitute for the cherries – I’d try them with blueberries as well.

Ingredients
6 Boneless chicken breasts (halves)
2 Tbsp ea. – olive oil and butter
3 Shallots, minced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
½ Cup pinot noir (drinkable, but not expensive)
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
½ Cup chicken stock
½ Cup heavy cream
1 Small tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
½ Pint (or ½ can) cherries, pitted
Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure
Place a breast (the chicken’s, not yours) between two generous layers of plastic wrap.  Using any heavy, flat item (though not flat, a rolling pin or empty wine bottle will suffice) pound the breast to half its original thickness.  Tip, wetting the plastic wrap helps prevent breakage during pounding.

Over medium high, heat a wide skillet for ~3 minutes, add the olive oil, then the butter.  When melted, sauté the chicken breasts in batches, without crowding the pan.  Sauté until just barely browned on each side (the inside should still be slightly pink at this point).  Remove to a warm oven and hold.

Add the shallots and garlic to skillet and cook 6-8 minutes or until tender.  Add wine and vinegar and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Continue to simmer rapidly until reduced to about 1/3 – ½ cup.  Add chicken stock, cream and tomato and simmer until sauce is reduced by almost half, about 5 minutes.

Add cherries to sauce and stir to warm.  After a minute or two, return the chicken and its drippings to the skillet and warm thoroughly, about another three minutes.  Add a touch of salt and a generous amount of cracked pepper.  Serve sauce over chicken.

DSCN0417Bon Appétit!
Dave the Wine Merchant

NOTE: This recipe originally appeared in materials sent to members of “My Pinot Selections” – a bi-0monthly wine sampling program.  To review wines currently in stock that will pair well with this recipe, click here.