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war of the worlds 2 Print
Written by guest culinary writer, Chef David Stemmle   

First we had the Bourgogne Rouge.  It was a huge hit — people said it made the food "pop out," that it was refreshing and "cleansed your palate after each bite of the meal."  Any pre-meal complaints seemed to vanish down the hatch - score: 8.  Next up was the Jelu.  The comments were mostly favorable. It was clearly a "bigger" wine, so it did compete with the food a little.  And one taster thought it was too peppery for the meal. I  was the only one who liked it during the meal as much as before the meal.  I thought it was particularly nice with the Boursin in the sauce and with the pinenuts.  I thought it was less acidic (than the Bourgogne Rouge), but that the fruit was forward enough without distracting from the food.  The spiciness of the wine was great with the duck and cranberry — it reminded me of Chinese Five Spice.  In the end, the Jelu lost points - down to a 5.75.

In the points roundup, the Domaine Tripoz Bourgogne Rouge ended up with 13.5 total points, while the Bodega de Anelo "Jelu" Pinot Noir came in at...13.5!  I need to come up with a tie breaking system!  And... done.  The Jelu costs $3 less at 16.99 that the Bourgogne Rouge at 19.99 (both for sale online at my favorite wine shop, Wine Authorities).  Price notwithstanding, the tie is a testament to the overall quality of both of these wines.  The Bourgogne Rouge won the most improved award for this round, while the Jelu would take the best overall performance.  The first rule of food and wine pairing is to eat what you like and drink what you like, so for your sake, I hope you like duck and pinot noir as much as I do!

Recipe (serves four)

Cranberry-Boursin-Red Wine Sauce

  • ½ large white onion
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 oz Boursin cheese

Add onions, cranberries, and garlic to a hot pan with a little olive oil, sauté until some color develops, then cover with the wine and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes.  Puree and strain back into the pan.  Whisk in cheese and dilute with water or stock to desired consistency.

Duck: 4 6oz duck breasts

Score, season and sear to your desired internal temperature. Start it with a touch of oil just to get it going. I start it fat side down and try to get a nice brown on the skin. Most chefs will cook duck breast medium rare - I like it a little closer to medium, just to get it warm in the middle. Feel free to baste the rendering fat over the top as it cooks.

Couscous with Broccoli and Pine Nuts

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 cups stock (any kind you have)
  • 1 1/3 cup Israeli couscous
  • ½ cup pine nuts

Trim the end and tough skin from the end of the broccoli stalk, then cut off the florets and chop them pretty small.  Dice the stem and add it to a sauce pan with the stock, simmer until soft (about 10 minutes), then puree.  (Check the package of couscous and do it their way, but this is what I did.)  Strain liquid back into the pot and add the couscous and some salt to taste.  Seasoning the liquid now ensures that the couscous will be seasoned consistently as the salt water is absorbed into it - the same idea applies to potatoes and pasta.  Cook at a simmer with the lid mostly on for about 12 minutes, adding the broccoli florets halfway through - they will steam on top.  Toast the pine nuts in a dry sautee pan, and be careful not to burn them.  It takes a while to go from white to brown, but it goes from brown to black in no time!  When the cousous and broccoli are done, toss in the pinenuts and check for seasoning.  A squeeze of lemon and a splash of xvoo wouldn't be bad here either.

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