Monday 16 July 2018

Make a splash - delicious recipes for cooking with wine

Try one of these delicious recipes for cooking with wine from Fiona Beckett, who uses the magic ingredient to make meals extra-special

Mushroom, mustard and madeira soup
Mushroom, mustard and madeira soup
Wine Lover's Kitchen

Fiona Beckett's advice about wine is as follows: if you wouldn't be happy to drink it, don't cook with it, either. It must be clean and fresh and, obviously, not corked. "It shouldn't taste like vinegar or be so old it has lost all its fruit. If you have leftover wine, decant it into a smaller bottle or container so that the air doesn't get to it. Wine that has been left open for 4-5 days is probably OK. Wine that has been sitting in your cupboard for 4-5 months generally isn't.

* Don't use wines labelled as cooking wines which tend to be particularly poor quality and not that much of a saving over a cheap bottle of wine.

* On the other hand, don't feel you have to use an expensive wine. The only circumstances in which I'd advocate it is if a dish needs only a small amount of wine and you'd otherwise have to open another bottle. To steal a glass from the bottle you're planning to drink may be the cheapest way to make the dish.

* You need a less good wine if you're cooking a slow-cooked dish like a stew than if you're quickly deglazing a pan. A good trick is to add a small dash of better wine at the end of a long braise which makes it taste as if that's the wine you've cooked with.

* The most versatile wines are crisp, dry, unoaked whites such as Pinot Grigio and medium-bodied but not overly tannic reds like Merlot. Wines with a pronounced aromatic character such as Riesling or Gewürztraminer are less flexible, but may turn out to be delicious with, for example, a creamy sauce. Feel free to experiment.

Mushroom, mustard and madeira soup


A dark, rich, intensely delicious soup that makes a good first course for a dinner party.

Mushroom, mustard and madeira soup

A dark, rich, intensely delicious soup that makes a good first course for a dinner party.

Serves 4-6


75g / ¾ stick butter plus a little extra for frying the mushroom slices

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

I large clove of garlic, finely chopped

500g/18oz chestnut mushrooms

2 tbsp Madeira or Oloroso sherry

1 tsp dried porcini powder (optional)

1 litre/33¾ oz mushroom or vegetable stock

1 medium-sized potato, peeled and sliced

2 tsp grain mustard

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon juice, to taste

Double/heavy cream, to serve


Heat the butter in a large saucepan or casserole and add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook over a low heat until soft. Wipe the mushrooms clean, trim the stalks and thinly slice, reserving a good few slices for the garnish.

Tip the remaining mushrooms into the butter, stir and cook for about 15 minutes until the mushrooms are brown and the liquid all but evaporated. Stir in the madeira or sherry and the porcini powder if using.

Add the stock, bring to the boil then add the sliced potato. Simmer until the potato is soft, strain, reserving the liquid and blitz in a blender or food processor, gradually adding back the reserved liquid until you have a smooth soup. Return to the pan, add the mustard and reheat gently without boiling.

Check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

To serve, fry the mushroom slices briefly in the remaining butter. Ladle the soup into warm bowls, top with a swirl of cream and scatter the mushroom slices over the top.

If you use vegetable stock I’d add some dried porcini powder to the mushrooms to intensify the flavour.

What to drink

A glass of Amontillado sherry is perfect with this or you could drink a rich Chardonnay.

Sticky pork mac ’n‘ cheese

Fortified wines such as port and sherry can be used to quickly caramelise meat like the pork belly in this wickedly sinful version of macaroni cheese.

Serves 4


1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive or sunflower oil

600g/21oz pork belly rashers, preferably organic, cut into small cubes

1 large or 2 medium onions, thinly sliced

50g/2oz butter

40g plain/all-purpose flour

600ml/21oz whole milk

1 bay leaf

Pinch of freshly-ground nutmeg

250g/2 cups macaroni or penne pasta

125g/1º cup mature Gouda or Cheddar, grated

75ml/2½ oz 10-year-old Tawny Port or Marsala

75ml/2½ oz chicken stock

30g/º cup grated Parmesan mixed

with 30g/º  cup fresh breadcrumbs

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F/Gas 5.

Heat the oil and start to fry the pork pieces in an ovenproof frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Once the fat starts to run, stir in the sliced onion, cook for a minute or two, season then transfer to the preheated oven and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time until the pork is crisp and the onion caramelised.

Heat 40g/3 tablespoons of the butter in a non-stick saucepan, stir in the flour then take the pan off the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Put the pan back on the hob, increase the heat then bring the sauce gradually up to simmering point. Add the bay leaf, season then leave on a very low heat for the sauce to thicken.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add salt and cook the pasta for the time recommended on the packet. Drain, reserving a cupful of the cooking water and stir in a teaspoon of olive oil.

Once the pork is cooked, pour in the port, let it bubble up and reduce, then add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan. Season with salt.

Remove the bay leaf from the white sauce, stir in the cheese and adjust the seasoning, adding a little of the reserved pasta cooking water if needed.

Preheat the grill/broiler. Tip the pasta into the sauce, mix thoroughly then loosely stir in the pork and juices. Tip into a shallow, ovenproof dish and top with the breadcrumbs and cheese. Place under but not too close to the grill/broiler, and grill/broiler until the top is brown and bubbling. Leave for 5 minutes before serving.

What to drink

I like a rich Chardonnay with mac and cheese but you could serve a ripe red like a Merlot.

Languedoc beef stew with red wine, herbs and olives

This adaptation of the classic French daube is one of my favourite dishes to make at our holiday home in France. Of course I use the delicious local red Faugères wine, but you could use any robust fruity red. Note that I add a little extra wine right at the end — it lifts the winey flavour after the long, slow cooking.

Serves 4-6


1 kg thickly-sliced braising or stewing steak

25g/3 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour

5–6 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp tomato puree

300ml/10oz Faugères or other

full-bodied fruity red

125ml/4oz fresh beef stock

1 tsp herbes de Provence

1 thin strip of unwaxed orange zest

2 bay leaves

100g/1 cup black olives

3 heaped tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

For the slow-roasted carrots:

500g/3½ oz carrots

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

A cast-iron casserole

A large ovenproof dish


Trim any excess fat from the beef, then cut the meat into large cubes. Put the flour in a shallow dish and season it with salt and pepper. Dip the cubes of beef in the flour to coat.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan, add the beef and fry on all sides until it is browned — you will need to do this in batches, adding extra oil as you go. Transfer the beef to a cast-iron casserole.

Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan, add the onion and cook for 3–4 minutes until softened but not browned.

Add the garlic and tomato puree and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add 250ml of the wine, the stock, herbes de Provence, orange zest and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then pour the sauce into the casserole. Heat the casserole over medium heat and bring the sauce back to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 2hf–3 hours until the meat is completely tender. Check the contents of the casserole occasionally to ensure there is enough liquid (add a little extra stock or water if it’s dry).

About two-thirds of the way through the cooking time, prepare the slow-roasted carrots. Cut the carrots into long, thick diagonal slices. Put the carrots, salt and cayenne pepper in a large, shallow ovenproof dish, pour the oil over and toss well. Bake in a preheated oven at 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4 for 45–60 minutes until the carrots are soft and their edges caramelised.

About 30 minutes before the stew should be ready, stir in the olives. Just before serving, season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the parsley and the remaining wine and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with the slow-roasted carrots.

What to drink

Try a Faugères or another full-bodied Languedoc red.

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