Every so often, you stumble upon a Chardonnay so refreshing and unique, so unlike typical oaky-buttery-California Chardonnays, that you want to drink it all the time. This kind of crisper Chardonnay, like many that are fermented in steel or concrete these days, are some of the best white wines to cook with. One bonus is that it pairs perfectly with your meal!
There are many Chardonnays from Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County that are half steel-fermented and half oak-fermented, or another combination of steel and even concrete. They have a creamy freshness and lemon-lime quality that makes it just as perfect in a rustic dish in front of the fire as a on a warm summer day in the garden. And cooking with wine is just as important as drinking or tasting wine.
Cooking with this type of Chardonnay adds something special to the dish: a little more citrus, good acid and lots of flavor. And don’t forget to pour a glass to pair the wine to sip with the dish! It’s the perfect pair to either of these winter Chardonnay recipes: Winter Squash Chardonnay Risotto below and Chardonnay Roast Chicken with Santa Barbara herbs.
And for dessert, here’s my other favorite way to use winter squash…and summer squash and fall squash and…all the squash.
|Winter Squash Chardonnay Risotto|
- 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed, peeled winter squash medley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves minced fresh garlic
- 2 cups organic vegetable broth
- 2 cups Chardonnay (2009 Alta Maria Chardonnay)
- 1 ounce pancetta or prosciutto
- 1 medium finely chopped onion
- 1 1/4 cups uncooked Arborio rice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herb mix (like lemon thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, lavender)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Combine squash and 1 tablespoon oil, tossing to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until squash is just tender. Remove from pan; set aside.
- Heat a large heavy-bottom stock pot over medium heat. Add pancetta to pot; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Remove pancetta and set aside.
- Add remaining olive oil to pot, then add onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add 1/2 cup wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue to add remaining wine and broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in squash, herbs, cheese, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Top with pancetta.