Tapas Recipe – Zinfandel with “Spanish Wings”

06Zin-bottleIn June, 2009, this recipe was paired with the Bonneau Wines, ’05 Zinfandel from Shenandoah Valley ($22), which was sent to members of our Maya’s Collectible Selections sampling program.  Click here to find alternative wines.


While eating at one of Barcelona’s hoity toity tapas bars, I was surprised to see what looked like Chicken wings.  They struck me as a sad concession to the McDonald’s crowd – tourists with highly domestic, non-adventurous palates.  But on the premise that all the other small plates we’d had there were memorable, and that even Spanish chickens provide two wings each, with which SOMETHING must be done in the kitchen, I decided to give them a try – I was risking barely a couple Euro, after all.

The risk was well worth it!  These are about as far from the typical “Buffalo Wings” as culinary skill can take you.  Don’t get me wrong, paired with a cold beer, some celery sticks and a good hot barbecue dip, few snacks provide more pleasure per calorie.

And this version is equally easy, and can be prepared by those who are normally all thumbs in the kitchen.   This easy recipe requires about 15 minutes of prep, a few passive hours for marinating, then half an hour in the oven.  Serves 8 as an appetizer course.

Ingredients
2 Pounds chicken Drumettes (the meatiest part of “Wings” and easiest to eat without utensils!)
2 tsp Spanish paprika
1 tsp Coriander
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Freshly ground pepper
2 – 3 Cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp virgin olive oil

Procedure
Wash and dry the drumettes and set aside at room temperature.  In the bowl of a food processor or mini chopper, combine all remaining ingredients into a thin paste.  Place the drumettes into a large, sealable container, pour on the marinade and rub into each drumette before covering.  Marinade for at least 4 hours (up to 8 hours) in the refrigerator.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking pan with parchment or foil. Arrange wings in a single layer, brush on marinade to assure each piece is covered, then discarding any remaining sauce.  Bake for 15 minutes, then turn each piece.  Return to oven for a final 15 minutes.  Serve on a platter with a parsley garnish and plenty of napkins.

Cheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
866-746-7293

An Elegant Syrah & Tapas! Savory Lamb Meatballs

This recipe was originally paired with the Peay Vineyards 2006 Syrah “La Bruma” in the June, 2009 shipment to members of our Grand Cru Selections

2006LaBruma

The sauce used here is not the typical BBQ sauce often used in meatball recipes.  There is no vinegar to offset the sweetness of the peppers and tomatoes – instead, the counter-balance is provided by the lamb’s natural richness, and the onion/garlic/herb combo.  I think you’ll agree it works well with a softer, elegant Syrah – I partnered this dish with the cool Sonoma Coast syrah from Peay Vineyards, their 2006 “La Bruma” ($47).  See other syrah choices here.

Meatball Ingredients

1 1/2 Lbs. ground lamb 1 Cloves minced garlic
1/2 Cup breadcrumbs 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Egg, lightly beaten 1 tsp Coriander
1/2 Cup minced onion 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/3 Cup diced red pepper

Meatball Procedure
Preheat oven to 400°F.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl – minimal handling assures better texture in the finished meatball, so mix gently and stop as soon as ingredients are combined.

Using a small (1 Tbsp) scoop or a soup spoon, form about 48 small, roughly-shaped  meatballs, placing each in a baking pan (with sides).  It’s best if they don’t touch.  Bake for 12 minutes, remove and turn off oven.

Sauce Ingredients

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ Cup diced onion 28 Oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 Clove minced garlic 3 Tbsp minced parsley
½ Cup dry red wine

Sauce Procedure
While meatballs bake, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and stir until lightly golden, ~5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, wine, and black pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat until the wine reduces by half.

Add the tomatoes and simmer on low for 12- 15 minutes more.  Add the meatballs and heat through, then add the parsley just before serving.  A handful of short bamboo skewers turn this potentially messy dish into an easy stand-up meal.

Cheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

The History of Spanish Tapas

DSCN0998
A Tapas Bar on Barcelona's La Rambla. Typical in every way, except it's empty!

We recently returned from Spain, where I fell in love with Tapas – bite-sized items often sold “by the stick” (as shown on the counter in the photo, above).  When it comes time to pay the piper (or the Flamenco Guitarist as the case may be) your empty skewers are tallied up and your bill calculated.  Very low-tech and very effective.

Tapas offer a perfect solution to what to serve when your friends stop by your place for a glass of wine before heading out to an evening event.  Serving one or several of these small plate items will make you a most appreciated host(ess).  This is sort of the idea behind Spanish Tapas as well, except most urban dwellings are too small to have people over – so the pre-event socializing occurs in the many Tapas bars.

The Spanish verb Tapeo can be defined as “the act of wandering from bar to bar, arm-in-arm with a friendly group that expands and contracts as the social event unfolds” – that’s the definition I liked best, so I’m stickin’ with it.  In each Tapas bar (Taberna), a parade of platters invites passers-by to stop in and linger a while.

The origin of Tapas is rather unclear, but food historians tend to credit the Spanish King Alfonso X, who decreed that all tabernas must serve a bit of food (tapa) with each glass of wine.  The word comes from the verb tapar, which means “to cover”.  This seeming non-sequitur suddenly makes sense once you learn that a small plate – the perfect size for a bite-sized, savory treat – was specified as the cover of choice for a wine glass, thus protecting it and its valuable contents from flies, dust or sneaky neighbors.

Several of the following recipes were inspired by our favorite Tapas items from our recent trip.  They’re surprisingly easy to prepare and delicious with your wine, so I hope you’ll try them, and enjoy them as much as we did!  And an added benefit to this way of eating?  It compliments a wide variety of wines!  In fact, the dishes are so small, varied and numerous, that I saw individuals pair them with everything from sparkling wines to whites to rose to robust reds from Priorat or Rioja.  Fun and conviviality are the only guidelines here!

Happy MerchantCheers,
Dave the Wine Merchant

866-746-7293