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Uncommon Pairings: New Year, New Wine!

Parmigiano with Barolo? Sure. Triple Cream and Champagne? Check.

Let’s face it – you don’t need to be an expert for those pairings – you can simply Google it.

Today we’re starting a feature of Uncommon Pairings – the goal is to take us a little out of our comfort zone and try some “uncommon” wines to expand our tasting horizons. The way to do this is – make the dish, open the wine, taste them together. Sound like fun? (Spoiler alert – It really is!)

Today’s pairing recipe is

Traditional Connecticut Lobster Roll

Paired with Chardonnay? NO! Not that a quality White Burgundy wouldn’t be delicious with this dish or anytime. Our wine pairing is

Bodegas Ordoñez Verdejo Rueda Nisia Las Suertes Old Vines 2016

In Rueda, in north central Spain, the white wine grape Verdejo accounts for the vast majority of plantings. It was introduced in the 11th century and enjoyed a long span of vitality before phylloxera put a squeeze on the entire European wine scene. But Verdejo crawled back to life, regaining some notoriety in the 1970s and receiving its own denomination status a decade later.

Bodegas Ordóñez first began working Rueda in 2011. As one of the pioneers and champions of traditional Spanish viticulture outside of Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Jerez, Jorge Ordóñez has always valued Verdejo tremendously. He is a champion of Verdejo and Spanish wine in general. He was one of the few to recognize the vast potential of Spain’s old, dry farmed vineyards of indigenous grapes. Most importantly, Ordóñez sought to preserve the ancient vineyards of his homeland and fought brazenly against the trend of ripping up indigenous varieties to replant with more productive international grape varieties. Amongst his many international awards, his proudest achievement has been creating a market for Spanish wine by celebrating its history and indigenous varietals like Verdejo.

On the nose, the Verdejo give us a wide range of intense citrus and tropical aromas, with some floral and herbaceous nuances, a strong unmistakable aromatic nature. Verdejo gets it distinct complexity from stressful growing conditions and mineral-rich soil. Its lush and smooth character with perfectly balanced acidity means Rueda wines pair well with seafood and this delicious lobster roll.

Now for the culinary side. Butter poaching makes the most tender lobster you can imagine. You will need to use fresh lobster for the best results (freezing lobster changes the texture to chewy). I prefer only tail meat (long story but yes I am particular…) but you can also include claw meat. To take this dish over the top, drizzle on the Beurre Blanc which follows the main recipe.

Traditional Connecticut Lobster Rolls

Makes 4 Lobster Rolls

2 tbsp. unsalted butter softened

4 New England style top sliced hotdog rolls

Poached lobster (recipe below)

2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

4 Lemon wedges for garnish

2 tbsp. Lemon Beurre Blanc - optional (recipe below)

Preheat a large skillet over medium high. Spread the butter on the outer cut sides of the rolls. Place the lobster rolls in the pan and toast for 1-2 minutes until just golden. Turn the rolls and toast the other sides for 1-2 minutes. Divide the poached lobster evenly among the toasted rolls. Sprinkle on the chives. Drizzle on the Lemon Beurre Blanc if using and enjoy with a glass or two of Verdejo.

Butter-Poached Lobster Tails

Heating butter above 160 degrees will cause it to "break" or separate into its different composition parts. This technique will allow you to keep melted butter in an emulsified state between 180 degrees and 190 degrees, which is sufficient to poach the lobster.

Serves 4

3 tbsp. water

½ lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into ½ inch dice

4 lobster tails from 1-1/2 lb. North American lobsters (about 6 oz. each) , shells removed and tails on, cut into chunks

and claws if using

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and begin whisking the butter into the water, bit by bit, to emulsify. Add the lobster chunks and cook until no longer opaque, about 5-6 minutes (internal temp. about 140 degrees).

Lemon Beurre Blanc

True Beurre Blanc gets its creaminess from the technique of gradually blending in the butter, not from the addition of cream.

Makes 1/4 cup lemon butter sauce

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 tbsp. dry white wine

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. finely minced shallots

¼ lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½ inch dice

In a small saucepan combine vinegar, wine, lemon juice and shallots and bring to a simmer.

Gently simmer liquid until reduced to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Remove from heat and immediately swirl or whisk in 2 pieces of chilled butter. As the butter is incorporated into the liquid add another piece and continue to swirl or whisk. Return pan to low heat on and off as needed to allow the added butter to continue to melt. Constantly whisk while adding the remaining pieces of butter. When all of the butter has been added remove from heat. Sauce will be thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper to taste. Serve immediately. To hold the sauce, set the pan in a larger pan of lukewarm water.


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