… as a lover of food I often get asked about the kind of wines I like to drink with different meals and over the years, depending on who’s doing the asking, I tend to fudge my way through what hopefully sounds like an intelligent answer. I dislike the fact that people assume you’re a wine lover or have any wine knowledge just because you care about the food you make. As it happens many of my family and friends are quite knowledgable about wine but I always shy away from the conversation because I fear some kind of horrible wine-snobbery chat will ensue and I simply don’t know enough. I am still quite naive when it comes to choosing wine but the best piece of advice ever given to me was by a sommelier at a chateau in France that we went to visit when staying with my aunt in Bordeaux. He asked me what I thought of his wine and I tried to answer as if I knew what I was talking about but after much fumbling with the ridiculousness of words such as ‘gravel’ and ‘earthy’ he simply asked me if I liked it or not. He said that the only reason for choosing a wine is if you like it. End of.
When the good people at Brancott Estate asked me to develop recipes to work alongside some of their most popular wines I was of course very excited about tasting the wine and then thinking about what food I could pair it with but my mantra was always ‘keep it simple and make something you like’ don’t stray too far from what you know… I really don’t want to alienate anyone with anything that makes me seem like a know-it-all. It has to be ‘everyday’ good quality, down to earth food, and perhaps adding my own unique Belleau Kitchen twist…
hot smoked trout mac n cheese
so to begin with, this month we have a delightful bottle of Sauvignon Gris. The Sauvignon Gris grape is actually an ancient variety brought over from Bordeaux and thanks to Brancott Estate, Sauvignon Gris has found a new home in Marlborough where, like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, it is producing intriguing wines that are simultaneously fresh and rich, capturing the unique characteristics of the variety as well as the distinctive flavours of Marlborough.
The founders of Brancott Estate were true pioneers, the first to start as the pioneers of the Marlborough wine industry and so I wanted to create a dish that reflects not only the fresh citrus nature of the wine but the pioneering essence of the brand too. There just so happen to be three pioneering local producers close by to Belleau Cottage who I have proudly advocated on this blog in the past, The Belleau Bridge Trout Smokery, the Lincolnshire Poacher cheese company and the Cote Hill Cheese company and so I thought that bringing them together in this delicately creamy dish would be the perfect accompaniment to the wine…
…now as I mention above, I am no expert on wine but I found that my nice, cold glass of Sauvignon Gris worked really well alongside the mac n cheese. The smoked trout, whilst delicate, has a subtle deeper flavor which I thought was nicely complimented by the fresh fruitiness, almost pear-like quality of the wine plus the rich and creamy sauce was balanced well with a delightful zesty grapefruit hit….
for the mac n cheese
4oz Cote Hill Yellow – grated
4oz Vintage Lincolnshire Poacher – grated
350g penne or macaroni pasta
150g hot smoked trout
250g cream cheese or a tub of hot smoked trout pate
a bunch of chives – finely chopped
750ml full fat milk
75g unsalted butter
2oz plain flour
salt and freshly ground pepper
to make the béchamel sauce, heat the milk until hot but not boiling, then remove from the heat
in another saucepan, melt the butter, then remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Put the pan back on a gentle heat and cook the flour, stirring continuously for about a minute
take the pan off the heat again and add a little of the milk, continuing to stir. Adding the milk slowly and stirring like this will ensure no lumps form. Continue to add the milk a little at a time until it is al encorporated, then return the pan to the heat and cook until the sauce comes to the boil, season and gently cook for a few minutes more
now very gently, on the lowest heat, let the sauce bubble away for at least 20 minutes… it should begin to go a more golden colour but watch it like a hawk and stir regularly, then add the chesses and stir
cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until just soft and then drain thoroughly, stir in the tub of cream cheese or, preferably a tub of smoked trout pate.
heat the oven to 180C
take a shallow baking dish and spread a little of the cheesy sauce on the bottom, then add the pasta and finally pour over the rest of the sauce. Flake in the smoke trout, keeping the pieces of fish as large as possible. B
ake for 30 minutes until the pasta at the top begin to turn a gorgeous golden cheesy colour
eat and of course, enjoy!