Pairing Chardonnay with Fried Chicken?

A culinary blog series featuring seasonal food and wine from the restaurant servant perspective. 

“86” the Hot Tea by: Roddy Browning

Forget the sweet tea and fried chicken…….. Yup I said it. Sorry Mamaw but I’m trading in my sweet tea for chardonnay!

Chardonnay has been on the merlot list of “don’t drink” for far too long. I never fell for the merlot is “crap” or “un-cool” gig. The fact is, merlot makes up the backbone of some of the most decorated, sought after, and most expensive wines on planet Mars… I mean planet Earth, just making sure you are paying attention. Chardonnay equally has its crown jewels. The point is, these classic old school grape varieties have taken a lickin’ and kept on tickin’.

Chardonnay comes in many colors and textures. American, also referred to as “new-world” styles, are fairly hefty and tend to be oak aged for added richness. Is that bad? No, not if you like it that way! See we are all what I consider professional appreciators. To become part of this elite group is very taxing and tedious. Not really. You like what you like, which in turn makes you a professional appreciator. Your money is your diploma. Get what I mean? We all like different styles of everything, from shades of pink to shades of black. Chardonnay is that pink fading to black chameleon. European or “old-world” styles are crisp on the palette with a wide range of minerals and soft fruits. Go to California and the heavy weights come out. Terms like crème brulee and baked apples come to mind.

What to Pair with Chardonnay? 

During a recent wine dinner held at our restaurant, I paired chardonnay with fried chicken; this is not a common or a classic paring. We just like to push it sometimes. If you asked the 30 event attendees which pairing they enjoyed the most, the answer was overwhelmingly this unique combination. What did we specifically pour? Barnett Chardonnay from Sangiocoma vineyard in Carneros. This selection is rich and savory, has beautiful green apple fruit flavors, and a touch of crème brulee from the oak. Mmmm…tasty! Barnett can be purchased online at barnettvineyards.com or ask your favorite local retailer. Recreate this unique pairing by grabbing your favorite fried chicken and a bottle of California Chardonnay. Bon appetite!

Another great chardonnay, and there are many, is the Holme Estate Santa Maria-Santa Barbara 2015. The boss (wifey) and I were on a kick to try some unconventional parings. This wine did not have any problems being our little science project. We first paired it with fried green tomatoes. Oh yes….. What a combination! The tropical rich fruit went great with the roasted popcorn flavor of the pan fried cornmeal batter and the body was a great match with the acidic pop from the unripe tomatoes. We went a little over the top with the cilantro and blue cheese green goddess dressing…….so I thought. The wine again cut through the dressing to refresh the palate so every delicious bite was as if it were the first.

Next we brought out the fried chicken. A classic in southern cooking. Black cast iron skillet, Wesson oil, flour, salt, and pepper. I put a touch of cayenne in mine, but don’t tell my mom. I have always been a big fan of the dark meat. Why? Because it’s just better. I will say it was a challenge not to finish the wine as it sat there staring at me like doughnuts through a glass case with the sad puppy dog eyes of neglect. The chicken with the Holme Chard was a mega hit! The tropical mango and banana aromas with a touch of oak was so good. The texture was perfect. Not too heavy but definitely plenty of texture to match the chicken. The acid was perfect to cut through the delicious fat of the chicken. Again what a treat.

Holme Estate can be purchased at their tasting room in downtown Oceanside, 216 N. Coast Hwy. For out of state folks, you can buy their wines online at holmeestatecellars.com.

Fried Green Tomatoes….YUCK?

Oh no these little babies are one of the most under rated treats out of the South, next to fried oysters. First step, get the green tomatoes. Your local farmers market should have them available. I usually get a medium size tomato for every person attending this special event. A very important note about the tomatoes, thin slices are very important because if they are too thick you won’t have as good of a crunch. Imagine the same slice size as if you were putting them on a burger. Hmm what an idea….. All you need now is fine cornmeal, egg wash, a bag for battering, vegetable oil, and a frying vessel.

Fried Green Tomato Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium, thin sliced green tomatoes
  • 1 cup of fine corn meal
  • 3 eggs beaten in a shallow bowl
  • 2 cups oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Heat oil over medium to high heat in frying vessel. The oil should be hot enough to just have a touch of smoke coming off of it. A little trick is to drop a sprinkle of corn meal in the oil to see if it starts to fry. Careful as to not get the oil too hot. You will burn the cornmeal.
  • In a bag, combine corn meal, salt, and pepper.
  • Add sliced tomatoes to the egg wash.
  • One by one, place the now egg washed tomatoes in the bag with the corn meal. Remember to only add a few at a time as they will stick together. Shake the bag to coat the tomatoes.
  • Add the coated tomatoes carefully to the hot oil.
  • Flip the tomatoes to get a nice deep golden brown color on either side.
  • Transfer to a plate with a paper towel.
Note:

I like to garnish with a little blue cheese crumble and a little cilantro. Serve with your favorite Chardonnay.

About the Author:

Roddy Browning is the chief architect and owner of two innovative restaurants in Oceanside and Vista called, Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen. Browning started his restaurant career in a small spot called Burger Boy in Cedar Crest, New Mexico. Following a move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, he started working as a prep cook and a busboy at local eatery named Julian’s. That was the start of his kitchen experience. He developed an appreciation for cooking and has been hooked ever since. When he moved to Tucson, Arizona, he worked the front of the house and quickly fell in love with wine. He worked under a few very talented Sommeliers throughout his career. He has been a certified Sommelier for over 10 years and has over 20 years of experience combined with his wine studies.

Published: August 3, 2017
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