Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friday Nights IN: Chic Chicken in a Pot and Chardonnay

Friday Nights IN is a regular feature at GWU$20 that's intended to trim a few dollars from your entertaining budget by replacing a meal out with a meal in. Some suggestions are dinners for four, six, eight, or even ten. Some are for romantic dinners for two. And some suggestions are perfect for when you need time to yourself!

This weekend marks the official end of winter and the official beginning of spring. If--like me--you feel you need to clean out some of the winter cobwebs but aren't yet ready to find your flip-flops and light the grill, why not make up a dish that perfectly bridges the seasons? Invite a few friends around, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy.

The Food: I love recipes that call for about 30 minutes of active stove time, but require an additional hour of cooking time during which you can sit and relax with your friends while the whole house fills up with delicious aromas. This recipe for Lemon Confit Chicken is a luscious, chic update on what we always called "chicken in a pot," those old-fashioned recipes that called for chicken parts and a Dutch oven. The recipe feeds four, and calls for one special ingredient--preserved lemons--that I found in my local Whole Foods store (in the salad bar believe it or not). The dish itself turns out zesty and flavorful, with loads of fresh lemon flavor and wonderful, spicy notes of ginger and saffron. A box of couscous takes under 10 minutes to prepare and makes the perfect accompaniment.

The Wine: With this dish you need a lemony, lightly oaked chardonnay like the 2007 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar Reserve Chardonnay (suggested retail $20; available for around $15) This is an excellent QPR, beautifully-balanced wine. It has smooth apple, pear, and citrus aromas and flavors. There is an oak-kissed aftertaste, which results from the winemaker's decision to put 50% of the juice for this wine in French oak barrels for 2 months. This is a feather-light oak treatment, and it makes the wine rich without being woody. The wine retains its nice freshness as a result, and is the perfect partner to got with the lemony chicken.

Full disclosure: I received this wine as a sample.

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