I’ve been so busy lately I’ve put off writing in the blog and now it’s hard to catch up properly. Wine pairing class was something I was anticipating with a little anxiety. We were going to have Chef Jon Bonnell as our instructor and would be asked to make dishes to go with wine he selected for us. Chef Bonnell taught our wine class last year about this time and I knew how particular he is about attention to detail. He lectured very briefly on wine pairing and then had us taste the 6 wines we would be using. They ranged from lighter whites to very earthy reds, both oaked and unoaked, domestic and foreign. I wish I had paid more attention to the wines but in my anxiousness to figure out what I would cook I completely overlooked the wines we tasted. He assigned us each two different wines, one a white and one a red. We had to make two dishes and we were given a time based on the progression of lighter to heavier wines. I had to present a dish fairly early with a savignon blanc and then later with a pinot noir. We had a good selection of proteins to choose from and plenty of pantry and produce items, however it was hard for me to come up with a dish. I decided to make something similar to a delicious dish I had tasted recently which was served with a Chardonnay. It was a baked egg dish. I lined a ramekin with toasted french bread, sauteed some andouille sausage, mushrooms, and shallots, added some tarragon, parsley, and chives, then an egg and some parmesan cheese. I was worried about overcooking it and ended up undercooking it slightly. I drizzled on some reduced brown stock. We had to bring our dish out to the dining room where Chef Bonnell, Chef Kurima, and Chef Ray were seated at a table as if it were a fine dining restaurant. We presented the dish to the chefs and then waited while Chef Bonnell tasted the food, then took a sip of wine and told us whether or not the wine went with the food. Talk about pressure! Culinary school is a lot like being on a Food Network challenge or Chopped. Chef Bonnell liked the taste of the dish itself but did not think it was a great match for the wine–a little too heavy with the mushrooms and brown stock. I tasted the dish and so did some of the other students who all agreed it was very tasty. Eric told me to be sure to put in on my menu if I ever have a restaurant. Here is the recipe: Baked eggs (serves 2) 2 eggs (get the best ones you can fine–Eggland organic) 2 oz finely chopped smoked ham 1 shallot, finely chopped chives, parsley, tarragon–finely chopped total 1 tsp each Parmesan cheese, grated–2 oz Brioche or French bread, cut to fit bottom of ramekin. 1 cup chicken or beef stock, reduced to 1/4 cup, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste Grill or toast bread and place in bottom of 6 oz ramekin. Sprinkle with ham, mushrooms and herbs. Crack egg in ramekin and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes. Drizzle reduced stock on top. Enjoy it with a glass of Chardonnay!
My second dish was more successful and I wish I had taken a photograph of it. I made a filet mignon, grilled and served with a potato, onion, bacon hash and a beer and pepper sauce. I roasted jalapeno peppers, add onions, garlic, beer and brown stock, reduced it and added some tomato sauce, worchestershire sauce and other seasonings. Chef Bonnell complimented my steak and said it was crusty, juicy, and tasted well seasoned. He also liked the potato hash and sauce–just wanted a little more sauce. I will definitely make this dish again. It is my version of the steak I’ve been enjoying at the now closed Cafe Soleil in Azle. Chef Paula Ambrose would not divulge how she makes her pepper sauce but mine, although different, was pretty good. It went well with the Pinot Noir, so I was pleased with the experience and felt a little better than I did after the first dish. Needless to say, wine pairing is not an easy task and takes a lot of study and practice. I will continue to work on this as much as I can.