Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Gnocchi and cheese sauce with Pinot Gris

Simple but effective, this Italian dish with an Italian inspired wine is an unassuming yet elegant meal.

Al runs www.winechateau.com. We've been tweeting about food and wine matches. After all, who better to ask what wine to drink with your meal than a guy who runs a wine company?

Al's first suggestion, Roast Chicken with Napa Valley Chardonnay, was a winner. So I asked him what he'd put with something simple like gnocchi with a cheese sauce,

"Pinot Grigio would be a nice match", said Al, "but if you want something a bit special, try a Pinot Gris from Oregon."

My only experience of American wine until now had been red from California. Some of it is excellent, Zinfandel in particular. And Chardonnay clearly does well in the vineyards around Napa. But I wasn't familiar with wine from Oregon.

"The Wine by Joe Pinot Gris is an excellent wine, I'm sure you'll enjoy it", said Al. How right he was.

We cooked for 2, using the following recipe.

500g pack of ready made gnocchi
3 small shallots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
splash of white wine
2-3 tbsp mascarpone
1-2 tbsp creme fraiche
150g Taleggio, chopped into small chunks
splash of olive oil
Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Get a pan warm over a medium heat, add a good splash of olive oil and soften the shallots and garlic. After 3-4 minutes add a small glass of white wine, around 150ml. We used the Pinot Gris we were going to drink with the meal.

Reduce the wine by half. Add the mascarpone and creme fraiche and stir until melted.

At this point, start your gnocchi. It depends on what it says on the packet, but it should just be a case of adding it to boiling water and cooking it for a few minutes.

Add the taleggio to the sauce and stir until melted and combined. Season with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. You probably won't need to add any salt, but it depends on your taste.

When the gnocchi is cooked, drain it and add it to the cheese sauce. Serve with some freshly chopped parsley.

Obviously the cheese sauce is rich, but the creme fraiche keeps it from being too rich, and the soft, doughy balls of gnocchi make the dish simple and comforting. However, the classy Pinot Gris transforms the dish, like Cinderella going to the ball.

I'm not normally one for appreciating white wine, certainly not the colour of it, but this Wine by Joe Pinot Gris is beautiful, like the flesh of a freshly cut apple, and there is a hint of green apple in the taste. Its clean lines cut through the richness of the cheese sauce and give it lift. It also opens up and enhances the aromas of the dish, so you get a real experience of it from your olfactory senses. 

There is also a very enjoyable contrast of hot, creamy sauce with cool, crisp wine. However, the fruit of the wine stops short of being dry so the contrast doesn't go too far. It is a wonderful combination.

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