Friday, December 18, 2009

"I" is for Incredible Stuffing

Also referred to as the ‘dressing,’ stuffing is a mixture of ingredients used to stuff poultry, fish, meat, some vegetables and casseroles. It can be cooked separately from the main ingredient, such as vegetarian stuffing cooked separately from the Thanksgiving turkey, or the stuffing can be stuffed into the main ingredient, as done with turkey and chicken. While the stuffing list is endless, they all have two elements in common – all stuffings are usually well seasoned and based on breadcrumbs or cubes. However, cornbread, rice, potatoes and other ingredients can be used as the base, as well.

An old European wine rule states that red wine is best served with red meat, and white wine works with white meat. The person who came up with this rule was obviously more wino than stuffing gourmand. Stuffing – if its made to do its job – will add plenty of big flavours to most dishes and must certainly be considered as the primary ingredient when choosing a wine partner. So, the new pairing guideline, if there is one, might be: pair white wine with the biggest flavours in the dish, and pair red wine with the biggest flavours in the dish.
Here’s a few stuffing and wine partner choices:

Fruit and Nut-Based Stuffings:
Fruit and nut-based stuffings, such as those including half a cup each of dried plums, chopped apple and cranberries as well as almonds are best to be matched to a white wine with a hint of sweetness, such as an off-dry Riesling. The wine’s sweetness will marry well to the fruit’s sweetness in the stuffing.

Italian Style Stuffing:
An Italian style stuffing can consist of one jar (14-3/4 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, (undrained), one package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry), one teaspoon of finely chopped fresh oregano and basil, half a cup of grated Parmesan, and one cup of white wine. Artichokes, spinach, fresh oregano and fresh basil all possess a wonderful ‘bitterness’ that works well with the bitterness in tannin found in heavier red wines like Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon.

East-Indian Stuffing:
An East Indian stuffing can include one cup of pineapple juice, one cup of pineapple chunks, one cup of shredded coconut, one cup of raisins, one cup of almonds and one tablespoon of curry powder. The pineapple and coconut in the stuffing is best matched to a wine with a hint of sweetness. Off-dry Gewurztraminer offers enough sweetness, as well as a hint of spiciness to match the curry.

Mexican-Style Stuffing:
Adding one cup of oil, one cup of spicy tomato juice, half a cup of green salsa, one cup of olives (chopped), and one cup of celery (chopped), can make a wonderful Mexican-style stuffing. For this recipe you will want a white wine with good acidity to decrease the heat associated with the spicy tomato juice and green salsa. A full-bodied Chardonnay would do the trick, also able to hold its own against the big flavours of salsa and olives.

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