On the “First Date of Christmas”..Let the Romantic Holiday Wine and Food Pairings Begin!
Last holiday season, my husband John came up with the idea of the “12 Dates of Christmas”–meaning “kitchen dates,” on which he is quite the expert–lucky me:). It’s simple – make dinner a chance to “court in the kitchen” and either win her heart or, in our case, just keep the fire stoked.
This year for the First Date of Christmas I took kitchen duty, and the first theme of this “!2 Dates” season – The Taste of Things to Come. On the menu? Chicken smoked and roasted in my Camerons stove-top smoker. It’s like a dress-rehearsal for the smoked ducks that are our family tradition for Christmas Day dinner, and gives us some yummy smoky bones for a stock. So, it’s no Partridge in a Pear Tree on this First Date of Christmas–but how’s a Hen in an Oak tree (I smoked the bird with oak chips)–a lot tastier, huh?
I bought a plump free-range bird, seasoned with salt and pepper and stuffed aromatic thyme branches from my CSA share beneath the breast skin. Important: butterfly the bird by cutting through just to the side of the backbone, so that you can lay it flat to fit in the smoker. This also speeds up the roasting time. (You could remove the back bone completely but then you have less flavoring for your stock:)
I completed the meal with CSA dry-farmed potatoes cooked in smoky stock, then mashed, and Brussels sprouts blanched then sauteed with sweet, sweated shallots–just like I learned in cooking school.
What’s your guess for the wine I paired? The photo gives a little hint!