Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Family Feast Days: Repeal Day

Our cooking supplies

This past Saturday marked the 76th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st amdendment, which ended our nation's failed experiment with Prohibition. The event was celebrated in bars thoughout the country and at our family table. What? A family feast day to celebrate Repeal Day? What kind of deviant parent am I?

Wine, and even sometimes beer, has always been a part of the fabric of my family life. My parents often shared a bottle of wine with dinner. On special occasons, I would get a taste of it in my kid-size glass. My mom still talks about Sunday sauerbraten dinners with my grandfather when he would fill my tiny beer stein with beer, which I would gladly toss back. While Thor inherited both my wine glass and beer stein, his preference is to fill them with the G-rated Shirley Temples.

I hatched the idea for my Repeal Day dinner after reading a Twitter post from one of wine-centric friends. In thinking through an ideal meal, I realized how many of Thor's favorite dishes use wine as a major ingredient. We started with cheese fondue. Without wine, it would just be a glob of cheese. Then moved onto Coq au Vin. Without wine, it's just chicken. We ended with Cherries Jubilee. While you could make a lovely cherry dish without kirsch, there would no flame, which doesn't seem quite so jubilant.

While Repeal Day 2009 has come and gone, you can certainly celebrate the spirit of the 21st Amendment with the following dishes. Be sure to serve with your favorite adult beverages. We did.


Serves 4-6

1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon Kirsch
2/3 cups dry white wine
1/2 pound grated Swiss-style cheese (I used Traders Point's Fleur de la Terre)

Rub the bottom of a small fondue pot with the garlic clove.

My adorable Staub fondue pot, perfect for a family of 3

Dissolve the cornstarch in the kirsch in a small bowl. Bring the wine to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Add the cheese handfuls at a time, stirring continually. At this point, the mixture may look like a big clump of goo. Add the dissolved cornstarch and continue to stir until the fondue is smooth and liquid. Keep the fondue bubbling by pouring it into the fondue pot set over a heat source and serve with chunks of crusty bread or roasted potatoes.

Thor enjoying his cheese


Coq au Vin
Serves 4-6

Adapted from Julia Child's The Way to Cook

4 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 1/2-3 pounds bone-in chicken parts
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
1/3 cup brandy
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup canned tomatoes
3 cups red wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon softened unsalted butter
2 cups crimini mushrooms, trimed and thinly sliced
3 small onions, braised in chicken stock with a bay leaf

Cook the bacon in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until the fat has rendered but before it is crisp. Dry off the chicken with paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper. Brown the chicken in batches, removing them as browned to a plate.

Browning the chicken

When all pieces are browned, return them to the pan, add the brandy, and flame by setting a long match into the brandy. Take necessary precautions before taking this step (including locating your fire extinguisher).

Chicken waiting to be flamed

Add the spices, tomatoes, red wine, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken. Taste the sauce for texture and taste. If it's too thin, reduce the stock by boiling over hight heat. Mix together the flour and softened butter to create a paste. Once it's reduced slighly, but still not thick like gravy, whisk in the butter and flour and cook until thicked. Add the mushrooms and onions, return the chickens to the pot and cook until all components of the stew are warmed through. Serve on egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice.


Cherries Jubilee
Serves 4-6

Flaming food twice in one meal. How cool is that?

2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ pound tart cherries, pitted (we used some of our stash from the freezer)
2 strips orange zest
2 drops vanilla extract
2 tablespoons kirsch
Whipped cream or ice cream

Melt the butter in a shallow saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and cook until melted. Add cherries, orange zest and vanilla extract, cooking until the juices have begun to weep. Add the kirsch, increase the heat to medium, and set on fire.

Blue flames

When the flames subside, serve in a bowl on top of the whipped or ice cream.

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