When I was first starting off in the culinary world, I asked a chef how he developed his restaurant’s menu. He stressed the importance of wine knowledge, and told me, “You can always change the flavors and components of a meal, however; you can never change the dynamic of wine.”
I’ve carried this wisdom with me through years of culinary school and kitchen work. I’m convinced that using wine for inspiration develops the most creative, well balanced dishes.
A friend of mine from Culinary School recently sent me a nice little gift. (A bottle of wine, it’s like they know me or something!) I was excited to try it, as I found the “beer bottle” style cap to be very interesting and I rather like the versatility of Gruner Veltliner.
I knew the Austrian wine was likely crisp and dry. The food typical of the region would be perfect with it–smoked meats, sweet & sour elements (saurkraut!), cabbages, potatoes, spicy mustards etc. But alas, I always want to do something different.
I made my side dishes: Braised Fennel, Red “Smashed” Potato Cake with Garlic, and my take on “sauerkraut” a warm slaw with Red Onion, Radicchio and Balsamic Vinegar.
For the main event, I took veal cutlets (very lean and thin) and filled with with a mixture of: mushrooms cooked with shallots, garlic, thyme, parsley and dry vermouth; ricotta cheese mixed with herbs and lemon zest; and panko bread crumbs. I rolled each cutlet, wrapped them in bacon and seared them in a skillet. The veal remained tender and the light mushroom filling complemented the salty bacon. I made a mustard sauce which was perfect for both the meat and the potato!
I’ve never made anything like this before, and was playing this dinner by ear–er…by taste. We hardly ever have veal, so it was a real treat. My parents approved.