Easter food and wine pairings

Written by
Vintage Cellars
March 3, 2019
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We uncover some of the best meat & wine matches, plus some variations to the traditional pairing for the adventurous palate.

Chicken liver parfait with quick-pickled shallots

Serves: 8
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes (plus time to set)

TRY: Dom Pérignon, Champagne France
Champagne goes with everything and Dom Pérignon, the pinnacle of the sparkling genre, proves the point. The rusticity of the liver parfait contrasts with the smooth, subtle Dom, its incisive acidity cutting through the butter-built richness of the parfait and the pickled shallots and cornichons matched by Dom’s "marmalade on toast" flavours.

1 tbsp olive oil
3 bacon rashers, rinds trimmed and diced
2 golden shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250g butter, diced
300g chicken livers, trimmed
60ml (¼ cup) brandy
2 tsp finely chopped thyme, plus extra sprigs to garnish
100ml pouring cream
Toasted sourdough baguette and cornichons (optional), to serve

Quick pickled shallots
2 tbsp tarragon vinegar
2 tbsp dry white wine
2 tsp caster sugar
3 golden shallots, thinly sliced

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add bacon, shallots and garlic, sauté for 3-4 minutes until tender, transfer to a food processor.

2. Wipe out pan, add 20g butter. When butter is foaming, add livers in batches and sear, for 2-3 minutes until browned - be careful, livers will spit and pop. Add livers to food processor with shallot mixture. Deglaze pan with brandy (be careful as it may flame), bring to boil and scrape browned bits from base of pan. Reduce by half, add to food processor with thyme.

3. Add cream and 100g diced butter to liver mixture in processor, season and process until very smooth. Pass mixture through a sieve into ramekins and refrigerate for 1 hour until set.

4. Cook remaining chilled diced butter in a saucepan over low heat until fat and milk solids separate. Strain off clear yellow butter (discard white solids), pour over surface of parfait to form a thin layer and top with a couple of thyme sprigs. Refrigerate for 2 hours until set. Parfait will keep refrigerated for up to one week - once butter seal is broken, eat within a day or two.

5. For quick pickled shallots, bring vinegar, wine, sugar and 60mL water to the boil, season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat and add shallots. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until required. Drain and serve with parfait, sourdough baguette and cornichons.

Roast Cauliflower Soup

Serves: 8
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

TRY: St Hugo Chardonnay, Eden Valley
Soup and wine are unlikely soul mates but here the smoky flavours of the roasted cauliflower and the nutty oak of the St Hugo are in complete accord. The savoury flavours of the thyme pick up the yeasty characters of the chardonnay with its palate cleansing tannin tang adding the final flourish.

2 whole trimmed cauliflowers (about 750g each)
50ml olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.5 litres (6 cups) vegetable or chicken stock
500ml (2 cups) milk
600g Sebago potatoes, diced
3 thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves to serve
300g crème fraîche, plus extra to serve
Finely chopped chives, roasted hazelnuts and crusty bread, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place cauliflowers on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle each with 1 tbsp olive oil, season to taste and roast for 25-30 minutes until browned and almost tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add leek and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes until tender. Add stock, milk, potatoes, thyme and 500mL (2 cups) water, season to taste and set aside.

3. When cauliflower is cooked, coarsely chop and add to saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat, add crème fraiche and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Serve topped with extra crème fraîche, thyme, chives and hazelnuts, with crusty bread for dipping.

Roast Lamb Loin with Warm Barley and Carrot Salad

Serves: 8
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes (plus resting)

TRY: Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, *$134.99 *no further discount
A classy wine built on cabernet sauvignon, its potency tamed by its allies - merlot, malbec and petit verdot. The sweet fruit flavours parallel the sweetness of the lamb, leaving its fresh acid ping and gently persistent tannins to mop up the lamb’s flavour-enhancing fat.

2 bunches Dutch carrots, scrubbed and trimmed (reserve green tops for salsa verde)
60ml (¼ cup) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Finely grated rind and juice of ½ lemon and ½ orange
300g pearl barley;
3 x lamb loin roast (about 450g each)
1 cup each coarsely chopped mint and flat-leaf parsley
½ radicchio, leaves torn
50mL extra-virgin olive oil

Carrot top salsa verde

20g day-old crust-less sourdough bread, torn
60ml (¼ cup) milk
1 cup reserved carrot tops, coarsely chopped
⅓ cup (firmly packed) mint
1 small golden shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
Finely grated rind and juice of ½ lemon or to taste
200ml extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 200°C fan-forced. Arrange carrots in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, scatter with rinds and season to taste. Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender.

2. Meanwhile, cook barley in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 20-25 minutes until tender. Drain, transfer to a bowl and add roast carrots.

3. To make carrot top salsa verde, combine bread and milk in a bowl and stand for 5 minutes until bread softens. Squeeze out excess milk (discard), add bread to food processor with carrot tops, mint, shallot, garlic and rind in a food processor until finely chopped. Add oil and lemon juice to taste, process until smooth and season.

4. Heat remaining oil in large pan, season lamb to taste and brown well all over for 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast for 6-8 minutes until medium rare. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

5. Add herbs, radicchio, extra-virgin olive oil and juices to barley mixture, season to taste and toss to combine. Serve with sliced lamb loin and carrot top salsa verde.

Roast Beef Rib Eye with Potato-Celeriac Gratin

Serves: 8-10
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours (plus marinating, resting)

TRY: Penfolds Grange 2014

A mighty roast deserves a mighty red and Penfolds Grange is just that. The beef is protein packed, but the Grange’s powerful tannins are up to the challenge, its bold black fruits equal to the roast’s potency with the red’s umami flavours in harmony with the lip-smacking pan juices.

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp each finely chopped rosemary and thyme
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 beef rib eye rack (about 1.8kg)
2 brown onions, thickly sliced
150mL full-bodied red wine
500mL (2 cups) beef stock
1 tsp red wine vinegar, or to taste; baby kale leaves, to serve
Potato and celeriac gratin
600mL pouring cream
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves, to serve
800g Sebago potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 2-3mm thick
1 celeriac, peeled and sliced 2-3mm thick

1. Stir mustard, rosemary, thyme, garlic and 1 tbsp oil in bowl to combine, season to taste and rub all over beef. Stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Alternatively, cover and refrigerate to marinate overnight and bring to room temperature before cooking.

2. Preheat oven to 220°C fan-forced. Place onions in centre of a small roasting pan to form a trivet and stand beef on top. Drizzle with a little oil and roast for 20 minutes to brown beef well.

3. Meanwhile, to make potato and celeriac gratin, bring cream, garlic and thyme to simmer in a saucepan and set aside. Layer potatoes and celeriac in buttered 2-litre baking dish, pouring a little cream over each layer and seasoning generously as you go. Pour in remaining cream to just cover (you may not need all the cream), dot with butter and scatter with extra thyme.

4. Reduce oven to 160°C, place gratin in oven and leave door ajar slightly for oven to cool. Once oven cools to 160°C, close door and continue to roast beef for 50- 55 minutes until cooked medium-rare (internal meat temperature will read 52°C and will continue to cook as it rests). Transfer to a tray, cover loosely with foil and rest for 30 minutes. Continue cooking gratin until tender.
5. Tip excess fat from beef roasting pan, place over high heat, deglaze with wine and boil for 2-3 minutes to reduce by half. Add stock and vinegar, boil for 8-10 minutes to reduce by half, then strain into a jug, pressing on solids to extract all the flavour and season to taste.

6. Serve roast beef with pan gravy, gratin and baby kale.