Cooking with wine is an excellent way to add flavor and character to your food. It’s also a great way to use up those half- empty bottles of wine that sit on your kitchen counter or in your refrigerator for weeks on end.
Any opened bottle of wine will gradually turn to vinegar; while this makes it unpleasant for drinking, it’s still perfectly fine to use for cooking.
Give leftover wine a flavor boost by popping in two to three cloves of garlic or some fresh herbs, such as a sprig of rosemary. Then let it sit for several days. Your rejuvenated wine will be ideal as a marinade for pre-grilled meats or a deglazing liquid to pick up those tasty bits of food that stick to your frying pan.
Make sure to serve the finished dish with a wine that will either complement or contrast the food. For example, try a big, buttery Chardonnay to complement a rich, seafood entrée such as lobster or salmon; or pair a smoky, earthy Pinot Noir with duck and sautéed mushrooms.
For a contrast, consider a late harvest Riesling with spicy Asian cuisine, where the wine’s sweetness will shine through any level of peppery heat. The pairing will allow you to taste both the food and the wine, creating a more memorable dining experience.
SINGLE SKILLET CHICKEN PICATTA
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup full-bodied white wine such as slightly oaked Chardonnay
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
• Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and brush off excess.
• Over medium-high heat in a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
• When the butter and oil begin to sizzle, add two pieces of chicken and cook on each side for 4 minutes. When the chicken has browned, flip and cook the other side for an additional 4 minutes. Remove to a warm plate and cook the remaining chicken in the same manner.
• Pour the excess oil/butter from the pan. Do not wipe the pan; the tasty brown bits remaining will make your sauce even better.
• Into the hot pan add the lemon juice, stock, capers, and white wine. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Use a wooden or Teflon-safe spatula to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan so they incorporate into your sauce. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, stir to incorporate, and then pour over the chicken.
• Garnish with parsley and serve.
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