Friday, December 2, 2011

Fennel Sausage, Latke, Red Cabbage, Sautéed Apple, Onion and Fennel Paired with 2010 Horton Vineyards Orange County Virginia Viognier

Fennel Sausage Turnip Latke Red Cabbage-1

Who says you have to stay with one culture or country for a meal?  What fun is that?  Today’s pairing combines fennel sausage (unused from a recent Italian inspired meal), latkes from our Jewish friends, and a German inspired red cabbage and sauté of apple, onion and fennel.  Our little UN dinner was lubricated by the USA – Orange County Virginia to be precise.  The 2010 Horton Vineyards Orange County Virginia Vioginier represented the U.S. well.

I can’t really explain how I came to this combination – it was a moment of clarity from the food muse…and we happened to have all the ingredients.  My muse hit the mark – the flavors were balanced, each had their moment in the spotlight, and the textures added interest.  The fennel echoed in the sausage by the sauté, adds a nice suble bitterness to the bright and sweet flavors of the apple, and the red cabbage.  To add acidity, I deglazed the sauté with a cup of fresh apple cider then covered and steamed the sausages to blend the flavors.

I took a twist on the latkes (potato pancakes) and substituted turnips for potatoes.  I loved the result.  Although I am a big fan of latkes in their traditional form, the turnips brought sweet earthy flavors not found in potatoes.  If you take just one thing away from this post, take the turnip latkes with a dollop of sour cream – I promise you will be glad you did.

Fennel Sausage Turnip Latke Red Cabbage-5

Although we have contributions from several cultures, I saw this meal as being most influenced by Germany.  With this in mind, I decided to select a Riesling.  A semi-dry or dry Riesling would nicely echo the sweetness of the sauté and sausage and bring a welcome level of acidity to balance the combination.  However, when I made it to the wine section I became distracted by a small group of Virginia wines.  Soon I had talked myself out of the Riesling and into a Virginia Viognier.

2010 Horton Orange County Virginia Viognier

Like Riesling, Viognier features floral aromas often supported by fruit.  Also like Riesling, Viogniers often have a touch of apparent sweetness invoked by the bright fruit flavors although the style is dry.  Riesling and Viognier diverge dramatically when it comes to acidity.  Viognier is a low acid fruit while Rieslings often feature strong acidity.  In other words, when pairing, a Viognier can often be a good substitute for a Riesling if the food does not demand high acidity from the wine.  In this case, I went with the Viognier.

As you would expect, the floral and tropical fruit aromas of the 2010 Horton Vineyards Orange County Virginia Viognier are bold and enticing.  This Viognier is a medium bodied wine with a lush, viscous mouth feel.  Following the joy of the initial aroma bomb, you are greeted with vivid tropical fruit flavors with hints of peach and melon.  While not as versatile a pairing wine due to low acidity, this Viognier is an exceptional and classic rendition of the variety with a ripeness and expressiveness normally found in wines costing five times the bargain price of $16.  

2010 Horton Orange County Virginia Viognier-1

Recipes

Fennel Sausage with Sautéed Onion, Apple, and Fennel

Ingredients

  • 6 links fennel sausage
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples diced to 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • Olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Remove and set aside.
  2. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions.
  3. Just as the onions begin to brown, add apple and fennel.  Sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Deglaze with 1 cup of apple cider – scrapping all the good flavor from the bottom of the skillet.
  5. Add sausage back to the skillet with onions, fennel and apple.  Cover, reduce heat to medium, and keep on heat until the liquid is reduced by 1/2.
  6. Season to taste.

Turnip Latkes

Ingredients

  • 8 peeled turnips (think of the equivalent of 5 large russet potatoes)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Canola oil.

Preparation

  1. Grate turnips and onion by hand or the grating blade of your food processor.
  2. Place grated turnips and onion in a strainer to drain excess liquid.
  3. Once drained, add to a bowl with 4 beaten eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with a coating of canola oil.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the hot oil forming small pancakes.
  6. Cook until underside is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Flip and cook until other side is golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes more.
  8. To use all the mixture, you will likely cook several batches. You will need to add oil on occasion.
  9. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.

Craig

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