June 13, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
Gertie and I have started attending Wednesday wine tastings at Noble Fine Liquor. It’s just over a mile from our house, making it the perfect walk: Gertie gets tired enough to relax while we are in the shop and it’s a long enough walk home that I can’t go nuts and buy all the wines.
The tasting last week was for the wine collection from Lopez de Heredia, described as a winery remaining rooted in the traditional style of Spanish wine making. Essentially, they have not introduced new grape varietals or strayed from the process of extensive aging, both in barrels and in bottles. They use very large old barrels for aging, allowing a lengthy, several year age, versus the newer production process of smaller barrels often for 6-12 months. It’s something about the surface area and the older more mellow wood used, blah blah blah. But then, even the white wines are aged in the bottle for years prior to release.
The two whites we tasted, in particular, were unlike anything I had experienced. When the host described the first white wine, a 2003 Vina Gravonia, as among other things, “salty” I had a bit of an ah-ha moment. It tasted nutty and definitely salty. Sounds weird I know, but compared to your everyday chardonay or sauvignon blanc, it really was.
With all the wines, they kept bringing it back to this style being so great as food wines. Well isn’t this my lucky day!? As I was growing peckish chatting about amazing chorizo mussels and salty manchego, I happened to have a chili beef and bean stew braising in my oven! It’s a recipe that needs to cook for a few hours, so I had the forethought to start it before I headed out to the wine tasting. I was pleased with myself that I had avoided the trap of serving dinner at midnight, but I had no idea that I was on track to have a perfect dinner and wine pairing.
The guy at the shop noted that this red, a 2005 Vina Cubillo, would really open up if I had an hour or so to let it sit before dinner, so as soon as Gertie and I got home I did a quick decanting. This trick, if you are short on time, is to pour the bottle out really quickly. Basically just turn it straight upside-down into your pitcher or decanter. Nothing fancy here folks.
But hopefully you have remembered to start dinner at a reasonable hour because I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve to speed up this process for you. Start by sweating the vegetables: pepper, onion, garlic, and spicy jalapeno, to create a strong flavor base.
Then brown the beef with dried spices to add even more flavor.
Simmer the beef and beans in a thick broth of beef broth, tomato paste, red wine, and chopped tomatoes. Then place it in an oven set to a low heat for three hours.
When I checked on it, it looked like this and I was worried it was a bit dried out. Once I stirred the stew, it actually still had plenty of liquid. Buf you need to, add a splash more water. And stirring the stew every hour or so, rather than heading off to a wine tasting would insure that it doesn’t dry out. But we all know where my priorities were and it was just fine!
After cooking low and slow, both the beef and the beans will be super tender and packed full of smokey chili flavor.
I served the stew with fresh slices of avocado and springs of cilantro. But then I thought, who doesn’t love a dipper for soups so I made some cheese quesadillas on the side. It was perfect.
The wine pairing worked great. The stew enhanced the earthy peppery notes of the wine and the wine added a nice pop of acidity to wash down the beef.
Chili Beef and Bean Stew
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cloved garlic, minced
1 lb. stewing beef, cubed
2 tsp. ancho chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. beef soup starter
¼ cup red wine
½ lb. dried pinto beans
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
Avocado, sour cream, fresh cilantro, & cheese quesadillas to serve
Preheat the oven to 300˚F.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 Tbs. olive oil and sauté the onion, pepper, jalapeno, and garlic. Sweat the vegetables for 5 minutes, until soft, then add the beef and brown. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano and season with salt and black pepper.
Stir in the tomato paste and beef soup starter. Then deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the beans, tomatoes and water. Bring to a simmer. Cover and bake in the oven for about 3 hours, stirring every hour. The beans will be soft and the meat tender. Garnish with avocado or sour cream and cilantro and serve with quesadillas for dipping.