Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Comfort food from the Baltics - pork, pepper and paprika stew and Undurraga T.H. Carménère

I've totally fallen for Eastern European cuisines of late. They are exactly the kind of hearty, robust, soul-nurturing comfort food that I've been desperately needing recently. One thing that combines those countries with my old love Spain is their love of pork. And what a mighty animal that is!

On this side of the screen I'm already getting ready for the porky orgies that my up and coming trip to Andalusia will inevitably be, but before that, let's go live with this pork and pepper stew that we had for Sunday lunch a couple of weeks ago, inspired by the most recent trip to Latvia. Best comfort foods are usually results of hours of loving stewing and simmering, but this bad boy is in your table in half an hour. Serve it with potatos mashed with browned butter (this is not the time to skimp on that butter!) and hello world - aren't you looking better already!

Just like that puff pastry lattice covered chicken pot pie, this, too, evoked some deep sighs around the table and with them the best compliment food can get: "this tastes just like something my grandmother would make".

Serves four

Pork, pepper and paprika stew:

3 large red peppers
400 g pork strips
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp pimentón
1 tbsp tomato concentrate
1 tub (120 g) sour cream
1 tbsp pickle juice from gherkins
salt, black pepper
3/4 dl gherkins, chopped to 1/2 cm cubes
handful of basil leaves, chopped

a couple of tbsp oil for frying

Cut the peppers in half and grill under the broiler at 275° until the skin is black and blistering. Place them in a plastic bag until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin, purée two of them and cut the third one in strips. 

Heat some oil in a casserole. Sear the pork on all sides and transfer aside. Add a little bit more oil and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Then add pimentón and tomato concentrate. Continue to cook for a couple of more minutes.

Add puréed pepper, pickle juice and sour cream. Simmer, covered for half an hour. Then add the remaining papper strips, gherkin cubes and basil leaves. Check the taste and season. 

The toasty sweetness of roasted peppers is something that Carménère grape compliments. S, for this lunch we opened a bottle of T.H. Carménère by the same Chilean producer that made the Carménère I paired my lamb dhansak with. 

As the name suggests (Terroir Hunter), the grapes have been sourced from the best vineyards and for instance this wine they only made 1050 boxes of. 

Much like the previously seen colleague, in addition to notes of pepper this also boasts berry notes, which make this medium-bodied wine very easy-drinking and easy to pair with a variety of dishes. Anything with (roasted) peppers, stews, pork and BBQ. It's got smooth tannins which make this wine's overall appearance even rounder and as a result I would recommend pairing it with spicier meat dishes, sausages and charcuterie, too.





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