June 25, 2011

Chicken Paillards and Artichokes with Sauvignon Blanc

Sometimes I am too lazy to think of a good wine pairing myself, and that is the time when cookbooks come in handy, where each recipe comes ready with a pairing suggestion. One such book is 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love by Jill Silverman Hough.
Its chapters are divided by wine varietal, six chapters with recipes to match white wines, and six for reds. So here I was with a bottle of 2008 Kellerei Cantina Tramin Sauvignon Blanc from the Alto Adige (Südtirol) region in Italy. I usually like to drink my white wines rather young, and here I had found a bottle in my basement, ahem... cellar, that was still from the 2008 vintage. All I had to do was go through the Sauvignon Blanc chapter and pick a recipe that I was in the mood for.

I still had some chicken breast in the freezer, so I finally settled on the recipe for Chicken Paillards with Baby Artichokes, Garlic and Lemon. Hm, what is a paillard? It’s a French word, and I guess in an Italian dish it would be called scaloppini, and all you have to do to get one, is pound a chicken breast with a meat mallet until it is evenly thin.
Then there were the artichokes. Love ‘em, but I have to admit that I have never worked with fresh ones before. They look a little intimidating, and the main challenge is to know which parts have to be peeled off. Well, in my opinion, a picture is worth a thousand words, and the illustrations at the bottom of this article really helped me.

And let me tell you, fresh artichokes are so much better than the canned ones. It was worth the effort. But definitely have plenty of lemon juice on hand to avoid oxidation, i.e. the artichokes turning brown. This happens literally within seconds, not gradually, like you may have seen it with avocados or bananas. The dish came out great, and I loved the lemony flavor. I served it over some bowtie pasta.

The Tramin Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect complement to the dish. It had citrus aromas and crisp flavors of lemon, with a long and complex finish. Wow, citrus for days… I had not known what kind of style to expect from a Sauvignon Blanc from this region in Northern Italy, and I was pleasantly surprised. None of the green and grassy notes you often find in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or the tropical fruit sometimes present in California wines of this varietal, or the mineral and stony notes from the French version…
Now don’t get me wrong, I love all of these styles, Sauvignon Blanc is one of my go-to varietals, where I feel I can never really go wrong, and I haven’t… But for this dish, the prominent citrus notes where just perfect. And the complexity was just significant enough to match the white meat of the chicken. Final verdict: an amazing combination.


Jill Silverman Hough said...

Thank you so much for cooking from, and writing about, my book! An e-toast to you!

Wine Combo said...

Hi Jill, I am looking forward to trying more recipes and pairings from your book! Cheers and thanks!