The foods you want to eat and serve during the winter often need to meet several criteria. You likely look for something that fills your belly and warms you from the inside. You may prefer meals that, during preparation, fill your home with sweet yet spicy scents and extra heat from long, slow baking in the oven. In addition, you may frequently entertain friends and family during the winter months, so the food should present well and feed many mouths. In addition, whether you are accommodating guests or simply enjoying a winter meal with a loved one, you might wish to pair your plate with the perfect glass of wine.
For a winter meal food and beverage pairing that meets all of these conditions, you might enjoy a supper of roasted chicken with baked stuffed pumpkin served with a bottle of MacMurray Ranch Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
Roasting a chicken is simple and not terribly labor intensive. You can incorporate some tricks to make a whole chicken even more flavorful and moist. Begin with some herb butter. You can purchase herb butter in the gourmet section of your favorite food store, or you can easily make some yourself. Soften a stick of butter or margarine and then mix it with one teaspoon each of fresh chopped basil, parsley and thyme, or any other herbs you would like to use to flavor your chicken.
Once you have the herb butter, separate the skin from the chicken breasts by sliding a knife under the skin. Carefully push half of the herb butter under the skin to cover each chicken breast. When you roast the chicken, the butter will moisten the meat and the herbs will season it.
Place other flavors into the cavity of the chicken, such as lemon slices or garlic cloves. Rub the chicken with softened butter or oil and place it on a rack in a roasting pan. If you want a crisp skin, roast the chicken at 450 F for 15 to 20 minutes and then cook at 375 F until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 170 F.
Baked stuffed pumpkin is the perfect side dish to serve with your chicken for a winter meal. This savory dish is also attractive, as the pumpkin acts as the baking and serving dish. You can also use mini pumpkins to make individual servings.
1 four- to five-pound sugar pumpkin
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
Salt and pepper
1 ½ cup brown or wild rice
3 cups chicken broth
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large baking apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice off the pumpkin top and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp, saving the top. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with the softened butter or margarine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes.
Combine rice, broth, garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium saucepan while the pumpkin is baking. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir diced apple, nuts and syrup into the rice. Spoon the mixture into the pumpkin and replace the top. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes and serve warm. Scoop out pumpkin flesh along with the stuffing when serving.
Once you have prepared this winter meal, pairing it with a bottle of MacMurray Ranch Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir will complete the hearty, comforting feeling of your spread.
Pinot noir is known for its versatility and can be paired with practically any meal, but Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is ideal for this winter meal food and beverage pairing. The fragrances of marjoram and oregano correspond with the herbed chicken, and the scents of forest floor and fresh soil tie in to the earthy flavors in the stuffed pumpkin. Notes of cherry and raspberry dance on your tongue as this delightful, warming wine works its magic.
The next time you plan a special wintertime dinner, whether you wish to impress special guests or simply enjoy a deliciously nourishing meal with your immediate family, be sure to try this filling and tasty winter meal food and beverage pairing.