Vinho Verde and Arroz de Bacalhau (Rice with cod)

Vinho Verde and Arroz de Bacalhau

A simple dinner inspired by a simple Vinho Verde from Portugal.

Vinho Verde white wine

Espiral Vinho Verde white wine.

I love Vinho Verde.  I don’t typically drink soft drinks, soda, pop, coke…what ever you might refer to it as in your neck of the woods, but bubbles in my wine…well, I’m a sucker for that.  Vinho Verde, takes me back to the fresca of my youth.  I didn’t like it at the time, but now, it’s a flavor I crave in the heat of summer and Vinho Verde gets it for me.  It’s not typically an expensive wine, this one was under $5 at Trader Joes.  The bubbles?…yeah, not naturally occuring, but I’ll live with that.  At some point a Vinho Verde producer had a little natural effervescence sneak into his wine and people loved it so much that most producers adopted the practice of adding it.

While I was looking for something cool, I also needed something authentic and good for my soul.  Michael had been working and I wanted a nice curl up dinner to fill him up without being too fancy, and I wanted a good traditional pairing for my Vinho Verde. I came across a recipe for Arroz de Tamboril, which is a Portuguese dish “rice with monkfish”.  Sadly the butcher told me they had no monkfish, but…they had some cod loins.  So I adapted.  The cod loins would be meaty and delicious and the fact that they were frozen, only helped me in cutting them into the perfect bites for in the dish.

Arroz

The French have risotto, the Spanish paella and the Portuguese have arroz.  These are those comforting creamy rice dishes that are meant to be eaten (IMHO) out of a bowl with a spoon, and they are great for date night (big bowl, two spoons).  You need a rice with starch here to get that creaminess, so don’t look for long grain.  The long grain rice is meant to keep from getting sticky and sticky is what you want here.  I found a bag of arborio rice that worked perfectly, but you can use a medium or short grained rice.

The recipe

I riffed on a recipe from Sorted “Arroz de Tamboril – Monkfish Rice

Ingredients for Arroz with Cod loins

Ingredients for my Arroz with Cod loins

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As I mentioned, I riffed on the recipe, so here is my version

Ingredients

  • 2 cod loins
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 onion (Michael doesn’t like onion, so I used a little less
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • paprika
  • 1 carrot
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used the vinho verde)
  • 400 g arborio rice (almost a small bag)
  • salt
  • pepper

You will notice the bay leaf in my ingredient shot.  I actually bailed on using that.  It was the last I had and I wasn’t feelin’ it.

So here’s what I did.

I cut the partially frozen cod loin into good size chunks.  Something you wouldn’t mind spooning out of your bowl to eat.  Then tossed it with olive oil, salt, pepper and sweet paprika.  Then set this aside to marinate while I worked on everything else.

Now time to make the broth.  I finely chopped 1/2 of the onion, 2 cloves of garlic, parsley and carrot.  They get braised until they are golden.  Ideally you would throw in fish bones here, but I didn’t have any, so I moved on to adding some water.  500 ml is about 2 cups.  Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to simmer for about 10 minutes, then set aside off the heat.

Chop the rest of the onion the last of the garlic and the green pepper.  The tomatoes need to be peeled and diced, so here’s the trick.  Boil a little water, and toss each in for a couple minutes.  I actually cheated and filled my 2 cup measuring cup with hot tap water and tossed them in one at a time.  After a couple minutes or so in the hot water, make an “X” through the skin on the bottom and peel the skin off.  Then you can quarter them and clean out the seeds and chop them.

Sweat the onions, garlic and green pepper over a low heat with olive oil (3 to 4 tbs, so more than you think).  You want to get most of the moisture out.  Then turn the heat up and braise them a bit.  Now you can toss in your rice and stir it around to coat it in the oil.  Stir it around for a couple minutes then add the wine and cook until it has completely evaporated.

Now you can strain the broth (I saved the veggies to add to other dishes).  Measure out 4 cups of broth adding water if needed.  The idea is twice as much broth as rice and you added 2 cups of rice.  Now you can season with salt, pepper, paprika and even cayenne if you want it spicier.  Get this to a boil and then add the tomatoes and fish, cover and cook 10 minutes.  Add the cilantro and take it off the heat.  Leave it covered for5 to 10 minutes DON’T TOUCH IT!

Now toss it in a bowl, curl up and enjoy!

Arroz de Bacalhau

Arroz de Bacalhau

 

Other pairings

I had picked up a cheese to pair with this.  Goat cheese is a definite go to and in addition I picked up a truffled goats milk cheese in a bloomy rind.  Some strawberries for a little sweetness and some anchovies to pair with that seaspray in the wine.

Vinho Verde with goats milk cheeses and anchovies

Vinho Verde with goats milk cheeses and anchovies

In Portugal this would be a simple dinner.  It is wholesome and delicious and made for a perfect pairing.

I mentioned that I like Vinho Verde, didn’t I?  We have written about it before, here are a couple links.

Summer Heat with a refreshing Vinho Verde

Pairings at the Keyboard! Vinho Verde.

Guilty pleasures

Check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles  for more great recipes, wine pairings and great stories on wine travel and the people behind the wines!  Or visit us on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Albarino, Portico da Rio a crisp, zesty white wine from Spain!

Recently I have been discovering Albarino.  I have enjoyed it before, but had not looked deep into it.  Now I needed to learn more about this wine, it’s origins, it’s moods.  So time for some research, which of course will include a few more bottles.

To begin with Albarino is a white Spanish wine.  It is grown in the Rias Baixas region of Spain.  Rias Baixas is Galacian for “lower Rias”.  This area is located in the North West Corner of Spain, just above Portugal.  It is close to the Atlantic Ocean and the area tends to have mild temperatures and to be damp.   This is the wettest part of Spain and often pergolas are used to get airflow up under the vines to prevent mildew and disease.  The soil here is mostly slate & granite which are perfect for cultivating this grape.  This is one of very few Spanish grapes that are produced into a variety of it’s own.

The stories of it’s origin are interesting.  One legend has monks bringing Riesling or Petit Manseng from Burgundy to this part of Spain in the 12th or 13th centuries.  It has since been proven to be indigenous to Spain, but it does resemble Riesling’s minerality.  It often has the body and weight of a Viognier and the acidity of a Pinot Gris.

I read quite a bit about the history of the area, but it was much more fun to hear about it from my friend Pepe who is from Spain.  He was so excited to tell me about Galacia.  The area is often wet and cloudy and feels more like Ireland than Spain.  He says this is not just the weather, but the fact that the Celts settled this area long ago, so you see many ginger haired blue-eyed spaniards here.  In addition it is not uncommon to hear bagpipes and Celtic crosses dot the landscape.

The albarino vines are low yielding and the berries are green, small and thick skinned.   It is often fermented in steel for an early drinking wine.  A more complex wine can be created with barrel fermentation or malolactic fermentation.  It pairs well with food because of it’s bright acidity, but has good body also. Being a coastal grape, it pairs beautifully with seafood.

In addition to being grown in Spain, it is also grown in Portugal (makes sense, as it is right over the border) and California.  I am looking forward to tasting some Longoria Albarino when we head back out to Santa Barbara County, if the 2013 has been released.  Richard grows this on his Clover Creek Vineyard.  We did enjoy a Verdad Albarino in the Qupe & Verdad Tasting room when were were last in Los Olivos.   On a separate tangent…if you have not been tasting and drinking the wines of Santa Barbara County, you are missing out.  This is by far my favorite wine region in the country.  Down to earth wineries and people and amazing wines.

We enjoyed a 2012 Iberian Remix Albarino from the Edna Valley at bin702 the other day.  It went beautifully with the lobster salad sandwich.  This wine is created by Master Sommelier William Sherer and are meant to pair with Mediterannean inspired dishes.  His idea with the label is to showcase Spanish grapes in American Viticulture.

We also enjoyed a nice Portico da Rio Albarino that we picked up inexpensively at Trader Joe’s.  This bottle does come from Rias Baixas.  This is a great deal for a varietal that is rarely found under $15.  I have heard reports of it selling at Trader Joe’s for anywhere from $5.99 to $9.00. On Cellar Tracker it’s listed as selling for $22, so if you find it at Trader Joe’s stock up!

Portico da Rio Albarino

Portico da Rio Albarino

I also found a great recipe for summer for Albarino “Hielo” which is basically a wine and fruit popsicle!  Visit the Albarino Explorers Club for the recipe!

So get out there and Explore some Albarinos!