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Vines & Vittles: Light wines pair well with halibut dish

By John Brown

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With the onset of fall, I usually segue from lighter wine and food choices to the more hearty fare this cool season seems to demand. But not just yet.

Since I was unable to shed my winter coat (i.e. blubber) this summer, I'm forcing myself to eat lighter for the next few weeks. Yes, I hope to shed a few pounds, but I resolutely refuse to deny myself (and those within my ample shadow) the flavorful food or fruit of the vine we so rightly deserve.

And while it may seem oxymoronic to say this, I am going to provide you with a recipe for some healthy comfort food along with a couple of wines that match up to them quite nicely. Yes, that's right, low-calorie, wine-friendly food that is not only delicious, but healthy too.

The dish uses a filet of firm white fish, in this instance halibut, as the lean protein component. Those of you who wish, however, can substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts or any other mild white fish. I will also recommend both white and red wines to pair with the meal. I call this recipe:

(Just For The) Halibut

Serves 4

4 6-ounce halibut filets

1     cup of wild rice

1      tablespoon of butter (optional)

1     ounce of extra virgin olive oil

2     large tomatoes chopped

1/2   cup of kalamata olives pitted

2      tablespoons of capers in brine

1     tablespoon of minced garlic

1     shallot chopped

1      tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

4     ounces of dry white wine (I use wine I will drink with the meal)

1/2      teaspoon of red chili flakes (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

COOK the wild rice, add salt, pepper and butter (or oil) to taste; set aside

SAUTE the garlic, tomatoes, shallots in olive oil for 5 minutes at high heat.

ADD the wine, vinegar, olives, capers and chili flakes to the sauté pan.

COOK for 5 minutes more at medium heat; set aside.

RUB the fish all over with salt and pepper.

SAUTE fish in a tablespoon of olive oil for 4 minutes (2 minutes per side).

SPOON half the sauce onto the fish and roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes.

REHEAT the rice and mound on plates.

PLACE the fish over the rice and spoon the rest of the sauce over each filet.

SERVE immediately.

Here are some excellent wines to accompany the meal.

• 2012 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc ($20) -- Citrus and melon flavors highlight this fresh, well-balanced wine. Excellent acidity and a long finish makes this the perfect accompaniment to the halibut.

• 2012 Kenwood Sonoma County Chardonnay ($12) -- This medium bodied, refreshing chardonnay has hints of ripe green apples with just a touch of vanilla on the finish. Crisp and balanced, this is a food friendly chardonnay that will enhance the flavors of the halibut.

• 2011 Allegrini Valpolicella Classico ($14) -- This northern Italian red has bright cherry flavors with a spicy tea-like nuance. This is a light to medium bodied red that pairs well, especially with the sauce in the halibut dish.

For more on the art and craft of wine, visit John Brown's Vines & Vittles blog at thegazz.com.


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