Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crawfish and Artichoke Heart Ravioli with Wild Mushroom Sauce Paired with 2009 Delaplane Cellars Williams Gap Virginia Red Wine

Seafood equals white wine right?  I don’t think so.  It depends.  Throughout my first career as a Coast Guard officer, I had the pleasure of experiencing several careers within a career.  In other words, although I was a Coast Guard officer, I moved through several professions within the Coast Guard.  At least one of these included training that featured a large poster on the wall that said “it depends.”  The message behind this poster was that there is not a “school book” answer that works in all situations.

This pairing fits squarely in the category of “it depends.”  Successful wine pairing relies primarily on the principal flavors in the dish.  Carrying this a bit further, the principal ingredient, may not be the prominent flavor of the meal.  In the case of this pairing, the dish incorporated two principal flavors - that of the crawfish and artichoke ravioli stuffing and that of the mushroom sauce.

As I selected the wine for the meal, I was betting on the mushroom sauce providing the dominant flavors.  Deep, rich, earthy mushroom sauce layered with the fish velouté.  I guessed correctly and chose a full bodied red to complement the sauce.

Before you rush into this recipe, I need to tell you it is a bit of a challenge.  The challenge does not come so much from technique, but unless you have a container of fish stock lying around and are adept at making fresh pasta, it takes some effort...but well worth it.  The layers of flavor, and ooooh mommy goodness are a great reward for your effort. 

Back to the wine.  I chose a 2009 Delaplane Cellars Williams Gap Virginia Red Wine.  It is a full bodied Bordeaux style blend with 40% Cab Franc, 27% Merlot, 22%, Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Petit Verdot.  And guess what, although this is a great wine, I have tasted the 2010 vintage and it gets even better!  The 2009 vintage features deep, rich and velvety flavors of dark cherry and plum along with a welcoming earthiness and a lengthy, satisfying finish.  Exactly what I was looking for to echo the earthy flavors of the mushroom sauce.

I placed my bet on Williams Gap pairing with the mushroom sauce and was rewarded with a spectacular payoff.  I highly recommend the 2009 Delaplane Cellars Williams Gap Virginia Red Wine and this recipe.  You will not be disappointed.  And if you cannot drop in to your local grocery and find crawfish, substitute shrimp.  I’m sure you will have an equally pleasing experience.


Ravioli Dough 

  • ½ pound Bread flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 chopped Jalapeño pepper
  • 1 teaspoon green pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste

Crawfish-Artichoke Filling

  • 1 pound crawfish tail meat
  • 1 can artichoke hearts finely chopped
  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • ½ medium red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • Juice from two lemons
  • 3 teaspoons pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Gumbo file
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 4 finely chopped scallions

Mushroom Sauce

  • 1 pound wild mushroom medley (your choice, but I would recommend shiitake, morel, and porcini)
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup Fish velouté (see recipe at end)
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 ounces butter
  • Salt to taste

  1. To make Ravioli Dough, put the flour in a mound on work surface. Make a well in center and add remaining ingredients. Working from the center out, gradually mix to make a dough. Knead well for 15 minutes and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest 1 hour.
  2. To make Crawfish-Artichoke Filling, coarsely chop crawfish. Mix with remaining ingredients, cover and chill for one hour.
  3. Roll out the pasta into two thin sheets of equal size. Make small mounds of the crawfish fillings, arranging them in a checkerboard pattern about 1-1/2" to 2" apart. Lay the remaining pasta over the top and press down to seal. Avoid trapping large air bubbles inside. Cut the ravioli with a pastry wheel. Cook in salted boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. 
  4. To make the Wild Mushroom Sauce, cook mushrooms with wine and base for 5 minutes. Add cilantro, Pepper Sauce and velouté and reduce for 1 minute. Add cream, butter, salt and pepper. Remove from heat. 

Fish Velouté

  • 6 cups fish stock
  • 2 Tbsp clarified butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

  1. Heat the fish stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the clarified butter over a medium heat until it becomes frothy. Don't let it turn brown.
  3. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale-yellow-colored paste (roux). Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour.
  4. Using a wire whisk, slowly add the hot fish stock to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it is free of lumps.
  5. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about one-third, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn't scorch at the bottom of the pan. Use a ladle to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.
  6. The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it's too thick, whisk in a bit more hot stock until it's just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  7. Remove the sauce from the heat. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.
  8. Keep the velouté covered until you're ready to use it.
Makes about 1 quart of fish velouté sauce.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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