Leftover Wine Makes a Great Add-in Cooking Ingredient
This article originally appeared in the September, 2019 issue of Bellingham Alive Magazine
Cooking with wine is an excellent way to add flavor and character to your food. It’s also a great way to use up those half-empty bottles of wine that sit on your kitchen counter or in your refrigerator for weeks on end.
Any opened bottle of wine will gradually turn to vinegar; and while this makes it unpleasant for drinking it’s still perfectly fine to use for cooking.
Give the wine a flavor boost by popping in two to three cloves of garlic or some fresh herbs such as a sprig of rosemary and let it sit for several days. Your rejuvenated wine will be ideal as a marinade for pre-grilled meats or a deglazing liquid to pick up those tasty bits of food that stick to your frying pan.
Then serve the finished dish with a wine that will either complement or contrast the food. For example, try a big, buttery Chardonnay to complement a rich, seafood entrée such as lobster or salmon; or a smoky, earthy Pinot Noir to go with duck and sautéed mushrooms.
For contrasts, consider a late harvest Riesling with spicy Asian cuisine, where the wine’s sweetness will shine through any level of peppery heat. The pairing will allow you to taste both the food and the wine…and that’s paramount for a memorable dining experience.
Single Skillet Chicken Piccatta
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup full-bodied white wine such as slightly oaked Chardonnay
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and brush off excess.
2. Over medium high heat, melt 3 tbls of butter in three tbls of olive oil. Use a large skillet for this step. If using a Teflon coated skillet, do not preheat the skillet.
3. When the butter and oil reach about 350°F or begin to sizzle, add two pieces of chicken and cook on each side for four minutes. When chicken has browned, flip and cook the other side for an additional four minutes. Remove to warm plate and continue cooking the remaining chicken in the same manner.
4. Pour the excess oil/butter from the pan. Do not wipe the pan; the tasty brown bits remaining will make your sauce taste particularly awesome.
5. Into the hot pan add the lemon juice, stock, capers, and white wine and simmer for about 10 minutes. Use a wooden or heat proof/Teflon-safe spatula to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan so they incorporate into your sauce. Add the remaining 2 tbls of butter, stir to incorporate and then pour over the chicken.
5. Garnish with parsley and serve.