Fall, with its promised advent of breezy, cooler weather, heralds a time to fire up the ovens to prepare the hearty dishes of the season. Leaving behind the lighter, leafier fare of summer also means a switch from light, summery beverages to bolder, often more complex, libations that warm us as they go down.
Ancho Relleno with Chicken Picadillo and Tomato Cream Salsa. This recipe presents a traditional interior-Mexico version of chiles rellenos made using smoky dried ancho chiles instead of fresh poblanos. For a unique pairing, try Austin’s Jester King Brewery’s Provenance (Lemon & Lime) 2015 Saison/Farmhouse Ale. A saison is a hearty ale that’s generally brewed in winter and known for its fruity aroma, moderate tartness and hefty dose of spice. Because many have described Jester King’s Provenance 2015 as having a taste similar to a margarita, it is appropriate to pair with the rellenos.
Heirloom Spigarello Greens with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, Dried Fig and Mustard Vinaigrette. Pairing a salad with a beverage (other than water) can be fraught with pitfalls because most salad dressings are acidic and punch the flavor right out of a wine. This vinaigrette—made with both vinegar and mustard—is very acidic, so we want a wine that can bite back. A white wine that has moderate herbaceous or vegetal qualities and a bold, but refreshing, ramp of acid fits well, and Driftwood’s Duchman Family Winery has your salad course covered. Their award-winning Vermentino is made from a grape widely planted in Sardinia, Liguria, Piedmont, Languedoc and Provence, and that is now also thriving in Texas.
Heritage Hen Ballotine with Country Ham, Collard Greens and Pumpkin. Chardonnay is often the pairing of choice with chicken—especially if that chicken is a savory, roasted masterpiece. In this recipe, however, the chicken is stuffed, then poached, then pan-seared in oil until golden, so something with a bit of tang (but still with that chardonnay-like crisp, dry finish), seems to be in order. In the beer world, golden ale is often considered to be the equivalent of chardonnay—smooth, a tiny bit sweet and absolutely delicious with chicken. Try Alamo Golden Ale from San Antonio’s Alamo Beer Company. It has a good balance of sweet malts and hops, a lovely little hint of lemon (always a nice subtlety with chicken) and a wonderfully dry and crisp finish.
Roasted Heritage Red Wattle Coppa with Rosemary, Garlic and Fennel. When seeking a beverage pairing for this very flavorful Italian-style pork roast, keep in mind the proven notion that “what grows together, goes together.” Coppa is a traditional roast pork dish from the central region of Italy, which produces both good white and red wines. Given the bold flavors accompanying the roast in this recipe, a full-bodied red would be the best choice and Montepulciano (also from the central region) is a good one. Texas has had great luck with growing the varietal and producing pretty damn good wines from it. Llano Estacado Winery’s 2013 Montepulciano is a particularly outstanding salute to the grape. Winemaker Greg Bruni crafted a multilayered wine with dark-berry flavors nuanced with a hint of tobacco and swirls of slow-roasted tomato meandering around the palate. Its grippy-but-balanced tannins allow it to endure through the bold flavors of the dish.
Heirloom Kieffer Pear Galette with Pecans and Farmhouse Cheddar. This is a uniquely flavored dessert with a buttery cheddar crust and a pear filling with lemon zest, bourbon, toasted pecans and brown sugar, so let’s try a uniquely flavored beverage alongside. The honey-based wine, called mead, is thought to be humankind’s oldest fermented beverage, and John and Wendy Rohan of Rohan Meadery in La Grange produce excellent versions of the wine in the Czech-style of John’s family heritage. Their complex Honeymoon Mead is produced from local honey and balanced through aging in oak barrels formerly used to age bourbon. The tinge of bourbon in the mead will weave nicely on the palate with the bourbon in the gallette’s filling, and the wine is sweet enough to walk hand-in-hand with the sweetness of this dessert.
By Terry Thompson-Anderson