Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Crazy and Wonderful Wine Ideas with Smoky Foods

Smoked oysters, topped with rhubarb chutney, and paired with a sparkling Cab Franc? Sounds fantastic!

Or: sturgeon smoked over pistachio and hazlenut shells, paired with Glora Ferrer Carneros Cuvee? Wow!

Smoked foods of all stripes pair nicely with bubbly wines. Why? Because of their palate-cleansing effervescence, their bracing acidity that cuts through the smoky flavors, and their moderate alcohol.

Smoked Oysters with Rhubarb Chutney
From Chef Michelle Bernstein, Michy’s
2 dozen oysters
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 pound rhubarb, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup peeled and diced red onion
1 tablespoon peeled and diced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
If you have the option, seek the advice of a reputable fishmonger for guidance in choosing the oysters. I prefer to use mollusks, such as Island Creek Oysters, that offer a delicious, briny finish.

Next consider your fuel: Apple, cherry, alder or olive wood are ideal for smoking oysters.

There are two ways to smoke oysters for this recipe:

For a more cooked style, shuck the oysters and place them in a smoker that has already been primed with smoke. Heat for about 1 hour until oysters turn golden. Place them on a dish and brush with a little olive oil, chill and serve with the chutney.

For a more raw texture, yet still with a smoky aroma and flavor, place the unshucked oysters on ice in a smoker and smoke for about 45 minutes. Shuck and serve chilled with the rhubarb chutney.

For the rhubarb chutney: In a small saucepan, combine vinegar and sugar over medium heat. When sugar dissolves, add rhubarb. Reduce heat to low, cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until rhubarb begins to soften. Add red onion. Remove from heat and pour contents into a small bowl placed over a larger bowl of ice water. Allow the mixture to cool completely. Fold in ginger, tarragon, pepper and salt to taste.

Serve chutney over smoked oysters.

Makes 1 1/2 cups (enough for 2 dozen oysters, with plenty left over to refrigerate for next time).


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