Salty dishes make wine choice cru­cial

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Bill St. John, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

When bring­ing a wine to the ta­ble, of all el­e­ments to con­sider in a dish and its prepa­ra­tion, the most im­por­tant is how much salt it con­tains. A bit of salt is no worry (and ac­tu­ally makes any wine taste milder or smoother), but a marked amount of salt makes the wine choice cru­cial. This soup adds salt to salt: cured smoked ham plus canned broth plus salt “to taste” equals a fair amount of salt. Wines low in acid­ity or high in al­co­hol are poor pours in the pres­ence of salt, but any zesty wine, es­pe­cially one with a tad of sweet­ness, will win.

HERE’S THE DISH …

Two pea soup

Recipe from He­len Dol­laghan Melt ½ stick but­ter in a pot. Add 1 large chopped onion, 2 medium ribs chopped cel­ery, 2 medium chopped car­rots and 2 cloves minced gar­lic. Cook over low heat, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til veg­eta­bles are soft. Rinse and pick over ½ pound dried green split peas. Add split peas, 1 smoked ham hock, trimmed of fat, 4 cups canned chicken broth, 1 bay leaf and 2 cups wa­ter to onion mix­ture. Bring to boil, skim­ming off froth. Re­duce heat and sim­mer, cov­ered, about 1 hour and 15 min­utes or un­til the dried peas are soft. Re­move ham hock and cut meat into small pieces, dis­card­ing bone. Dis­card bay leaf. Re­turn ham to soup with salt and pep­per to taste and 1 pack­age thawed frozen green peas. Heat just un­til those peas are barely cooked.

AND PAIR IT WITH

Soup afi­ciona­dos where this sort of veg­etable-and­meat soup orig­i­nated – in gen­eral, Europe – long have en­joyed sip­ping wines such as sherry or Madeira with their heartier soups. Amon­til­lado sherry and verdelho Madeira both sport a spot of sweet­ness and are about as per­fect a match as can be found. If you’re in search for a reg­u­lar wine, though, try to keep to some­thing nei­ther very dry nor overly al­co­holic (the salti­ness here will off it). Many a ries­ling might be nice; so, too, the low-al­co­hol moscatos now made around the globe, not merely in Italy.

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