Thursday, January 15, 2009

Friday Nights IN: Basque Food and Argentinian Wine for a Crowd

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 week's Friday Nights IN suggestion is to have a crowd over and cook a hearty, soothing, flavorful meal inspired by the cuisine of the Basque region with an opulent wine from Argentina. How many is a crowd? Well, that depends on you, but the recipes below feed 10 people. With that many people heading over, why not let other guests bring the salad, the dessert, the appetizers, and some bread? Of course, you can always half the recipe. I did, and it worked just fine! The estimated cost for this main dish? $43. For ten people. Try to get that much bang for your buck in a restaurant.

The Recipe: a Basque-inspired dish of tender chicken braised in a piperade sauce, served alongside some homemade steak fries tossed with Spanish smoked pimenton? Food & Wine featured this recipe in their January 2009 issue. This is an absolutely delicious meal that tastes like restaurant food and is easy and inexpensive to make. In our house, it won the highest recipe rating, "repeater," which is reserved for those meals that we would be happy to see over and over again.

The Wine: with such a flavorful meal, you want a flavorful wine. I'd suggest the very good QPR 2007 Clos de los Siete by Michael Rolland (available for $12-$20). This wine is still a bit young, so I'd open it and pour it in the glasses about 30 minutes before you sit down to dinner to make the most of its plummy aromas and flavors. In addition to the plums, expect to smell some licorice. The treats continue in the flavors, where raisin and fig notes complement the opulent plumminess of the wine. This wine is blended from Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah grapes and takes much more complex than its price tag would suggest. With ten people coming over, you will want to buy at least two bottles (that's one glass per person), and increase it from there if you want to pour second glasses.

Full Disclosure: I received this wine as a sample.


Anonymous said...

That sounds like a perfect pairing for Basque food and the recipe sounds delectable. I can't believe that it only cost $43 to feed 10 people that handsomely. I imagine the Clos de los Siete would also be good with other strongly flavored foods -- Spanish-inspired dishes, or possibly even Middle Eastern fare. I personally wouldn't mind trying it with a nice lamb stew either. It sounds like it has a very interesting flavor profile. I've tried other similar wines as selections through wine clubs, but I like the idea of the slight licorice notes you mentioned in that one.

I believe I may have said so before, but I very much like your posts on Friday nights in. I wish more people realized that there are many ways to eat well, drink well, entertain well, and live well even on a budget. Tightening one's belt doesn't have to mean giving up all the things that make worth living. In my opinion, food, wine and friends rate very highly on that scale.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see you recommend this wine! I have introduced several of my friends to it and have yet to find anyone who does not like it. It's really a great blend of old world and new, and the QPR, as you say, is phenomenal. Thanks for a great suggestion for a cold winter's evening!

MarkAse said...

Interesting stuff as always! We run our wine club with the idea that people often buy the cheapest bottle they can find at a certain quality level (say 90pts at BevMo as an example).