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Casseroles with left over wine
© Sue Courtney
20 September 2004

One of the problems of a wine critic is copious amounts of left over wine and by the time I've tasted from some of the bottles over 2 or 3 nights, the wine is not always suitable to be given away. My solution is to cook with it and during the last days of winter in August and this chilly start to Spring, I've been enjoying all sorts of casseroles cooked with wine instead of water or stock. Cooking with wine is like eating with wine - the silly rules of white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat should be totally ignored. Red meat cooked with white wine and white meat cooked with red wine has produced some of the nicest dishes.

This month's recipes include

* Pork and Yam Casserole
* Lamb chops braised in Sauvignon Blanc
* Chicken in Red Wine

Pork and Yam Casserole
NZ Yams - photo S Courtney I had the pork, I had the yams, I thought it shouldn’t be too difficult to modify one of my standard recipes. With slow cooking the yams soften and almost caramelise, making a natural thickening to the sauce. New Zealand yams originate from the Andes region where they are known as Oca. Recently there have been different coloured yams introduced to the market- more information from and Lincoln Uni Food Science Dept..

You will need

- Two rashers of bacon
- One red onion
- Several cloves of garlic
- About 450 grams of pork pieces, trimmed of fat
- A tablespoon of flour
- Salt and pepper
- Half a teaspoon of powdered ginger
- A teaspoon of the zest of an orange or tangelo
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup of unoaked white wine - a citrussy riesling or pinot gris is good.
- Half a dozen 'apricot' yams, cut into thick chunks. Yams do not need peeling but any blemishes should be cut out.

Lightly bash the garlic and slip the skin off. Chop bacon into pieces and slice onion.
Add a little oil to a pan and saute the bacon, onion and garlic then place into a pottery casserole dish.
Into the pan add sliced trim pork pieces and quickly brown.
Sprinkle over the flour, the seasonings and the citrus zest, tossing through the meat to brown.
Remove the meat to the casserole.
Deglaze the pan with first the water to sizzle off, then add the cup of wine.
When the liquid starts to bubble, lower heat and add the yams to the liquid to simmer for a couple of minutes, then pour it all over the pork in the casserole dish and stir around a little.
Cover and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for at least and hour, or until the pork is very very tender.
Served with rice and a sauteed greens mixture of sliced bok choy, fennel and leeks.

This dish works well accompanied with a dryish gewurztraminer – my top pick after a wine and food matching session was the Villa Maria Private Bin Gewurztraminer 2004.

Lamb chops braised in Sauvignon Blanc
This is a variation on a casserole that my Mum used to make when I was a child, not that Mum used wine! Ok, I confess right now the first time I have also made this with mutton chops – which is probably what we had all those years ago anyway. It was so cheap ($4.95/kilo as opposed to $12.95/kilo for the lamb) and mutton shoulder shops are often a tasty cut. The down side is that lamb is fatty and mutton is more so, hence it is imperative to remove the fat before thickening the juices. I use a fat strainer (a jug with the spout at the bottom) - the fat rises to the top and you can then pour the good juices while the strong tasting globby fat is left behind.

You will need

- 4 to 8 lamb shoulder chops
- 2 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1 leek
- 1 onion
- several cloves of garlic
- 1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- salt, pepper and dried Italian herbs for seasoning
- 1-2 tablespoons of flour

Brown the chops on both sides in a little oil or fat in a frying pan, sprinkling the upper side of the chop with salt, freshly ground pepper and dried herbs before turning. Remove the chops to a large sized oval casserole.
In the fat that remains in the pan, or in a little more oil that you have added to the pan, add the chopped onion and whole cloves of garlic to saute for a minute or so, then add the chunky slices of carrots and parsnips and toss to get the cooking juices over them.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine.
Let it cook for a minute or so then stir in 1/4 cup of water, which will sizzle in the heat.
Now add the cup of sauvignon Blanc and the dash of Worcestershire sauce and let it come to the boil and lower heat. Add more liquid if necessary as it will start to thicken up depending on the ratio of flour to liquid.
Empty the pan contents over the chops in the casserole, then sprinkle over the chopped leeks.
Cover and cook in a slow oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bones.

Pour the fat off the cooking liquid and if necessary, thicken up the liquid to make a gravy or 'sauce'.

I like this served with mushy mashed potatoes and crisp green beans and the Babich Winemakers Reserve Pinotage 2002 from Hawkes Bay was an excellent accompaniment.

Chicken in Red Wine
Inspired by the classic Coq au Vin, this is so easy you hardly need a recipe.

You will need

- About 8 boneless chicken thighs with the skin off, otherwise skinless chicken thighs or breasts with the bone in will do.
- Butter and oil for cooking
- About 1/2 cup white flour
- 1 teaspoon of dried Italian style herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme, etc.,)
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 rashers of streaky bacon
- a few shallots or a red onion
- 8 to 12 fresh button mushrooms
- About 1 cup of red wine

Wash and dry the chicken pieces and coat in a mixture made from the flour, herbs, salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Heat a combination of 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and brown the coated chicken pieces on each side, then remove to casserole dish.
Now saute the chopped up bacon for a couple of minutes with the chopped up shallots or sliced onion. Place into the casserole atop the chicken.
To this add the button mushrooms that have been quartered.
Add the left over flour to sizzle in the drippings that are left in the pan then add the red wine slowly to make a sauce to pour over the chicken before you place it in the oven. You don’t want the sauce too thick as it will continue to thicken as it cooks in the oven with the flour that was coated on the chicken.
I use about a cup of red wine, perhaps more depending on how thick the sauce is. You could always dilute with water.
Bake in a 160-170 degree Celcius oven for about an hour.

I make double the quantity than I need for just the two of us, as I discovered this dish is even better a couple of days later.

With the mushroom and bacon flavours this dish is good with a robust Pinot Noir.


Sue Courtney's recipes are all original creations unless otherwise stated. Recipes are inspired by the season and by the wine matches.

Kia pai te kai

© Sue Courtney
September 2004

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