Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What Leftover Wine?

  •  Martha's way #16: Don't throw out all that leftover wine. Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

  • My way: Leftover wine?

It was one of those nights where I had ingredients lying around the house and no idea what to do with them.

My current eating plan is pretty restrictive about consumption of caloric beverages. I have cut way back on the alcohol lately. This posed a small problem in the past two weeks. After Mom’s birthday party I had an opened bottle of red wine on the counter and didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t drink it while it was still fresh. Then I went away on vacation for a week. It would be unusable by the time I came home. What to do?

I started by taking Martha’s advice and froze it. That solved the problem of keeping it from going bad. That didn’t solve the problem of how I was going to use it. What kind of meal could I prepare with red wine that didn’t look anything like something I had cooked before?

I used my tried-and-true method of Googling random ingredients to find inspiration. What if I mixed it with tomatoes? If I cooked chicken in it with tomatoes, would that just end up being chicken cacciatore? What if the wine and tomatoes were in equal parts? The Googling gave me some advice again about what spices I could use to change the flavor profile a bit. How about some paprika and cayenne? Did I dare try a touch of orange?

So the mad scientist (mad chef?) in me just started working on some combinations that I would cook with a humble chicken breast.  Either it would all work together or it wouldn't.  If it didn't work, then I wouldn't have to make it again.  In the end I used red wine, tomatoes, pepper flakes, garlic, orange peel, and smoked paprika.

Once again I forgot to charge my camera battery.  This is another pathetic phone photo. I served this over cauliflower puree (mashed potatoes would be nice too) with a side of spinach.

This chicken dish was amazing.  It exceeded all expectations.   The mix of flavors gave me something unexpected in every bite.  Sometimes I really felt the burn of the pepper flakes.  Sometimes I had the citrus pop of the orange.  Other bites just had the rich taste of wine and tomatoes with the smoky flavor of the paprika as a pleasing undercurrent.  It was far tastier than an make-up-on-the-fly weeknight chicken recipe should be.

Wine With Everything Chicken

  • 2 Tbl olive oil for frying
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
Heat olive oil in a large pan add the red pepper flakes as the oil warms and then add the garlic and cook over low heat until fragrant.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and brown well in the oil on both sides.

Remove chicken from pan.  Add the wine, orange, tomatoes and paprika.  Scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and add chicken breasts back to the pan.  Cook another 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

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