I recently took a cooking class at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. It was the Friday Night Cooking Series: Gastrowine Tour of France with Chef Pierre Jenatton. Pierre discussed how to pair French foods with French wines and demonstrated how to cook the dishes he selected. He paired a French Riesling with salmon in a mushroom cream sauce, coq au vin with a red burgundy, and rack of lamb with a red Bordeaux – Chateau Michel de Vert – Lussac St. Emilion 2003 for under $10. All were good. Here were my take always:
• German Riesling is 8 percent alcohol while the French version is 12% so choose your level of buzz.
• You can cook salmon on one side if the skin is still on. Cook it skin side down for about ten minutes at a high heat to crisp the skin, then slowly for about another ten minutes, depending on how well down you want it.
• When cutting mushrooms, cut in half first so they will not roll on you. Curl your fingers as you hold the mushroom so you don’t cut your finger tips.
• Both white and red wine can be used in a cream sauce and taste equally good but the white version looks better as red wine cream sauce is purple. When reducing the cream sauce be careful that the liquid does get down too much as the butter fat will separate. Watch and add liquid if needed.
• Aged balsamic vinegar is very expensive but you can buy the cheap stuff and let it sit opened for several weeks. Much of the water will evaporate and you get something is close to the very expensive stuff.
• Let the cooked lamb sit for 5 minutes before you cut it. This allows the moisture to diffuse back into the meat and it is much easier to cut cleanly.
• These classes serve more wine than food. I guess this is to promote conversation and happy customers.