Oregon has gained quite a reputation for producing great wine. I remember being on my honeymoon in Hawaii almost 20 years ago and seeing an Oregon pinot noir on the wine list. What I thought was a novelty in 1994 is a common sight on wine lists in fine restaurants across the country. The production of wine in Oregon dates back to the 1840s, but wine making became a significant industry in the 1960s. Pinot noir and pinot gris are the most notable varietals, followed by chardonnay, merlot and riesling. Wine tourism is now growing as well, with bed-and-breakfast inns and fine restaurants popping up near many of the wineries, which causes many people to refer to the wine region in the Willamette Valley as a “Little Napa Valley.” Although much smaller than Napa’s, the beautiful wineries around Dundee are certainly worth exploring.
A friend once gave me a plaque that reads: “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” For me, this is quite appropriate. I do enjoy great food along with great wine, and I cook with wine often. Classic dishes like coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon rely on the flavor of the pinot noir they are cooked with, and chardonnay or pinot gris add the perfect flavor and acidity to a rich beurre blanc sauce for fish, chicken or vegetables. Always use the best wine you can afford; after all, after using some in the recipe, you’ll probably end up drinking the rest!
In this dish, I wanted to use a wine that I don’t normally drink: riesling. Although German riesling can be overly sweet, most of Oregon’s riesling is more medium dry. The wines have a special balance, thanks to the higher acid levels in the grapes. Although the wines do have noticeable residual sugar, the crisp acidity makes the state’s rieslings a good choice for lighter-weight foods like fish and chicken.
This Willamette Valley Riesling, green grapes and braised artichokes add a tart sweetness to this dish. I used fines herbes (a blend of parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon) to season the fish. This blend of sweet herbs pairs beautifully with the fish and can be found easily at most grocery stores. Verjus is made from unripened vinifera grapes and is a delicately tart replacement for acids like lemon or vinegar. It can be found in stores with a good wine selection or in specialty food shops.
Sauteed Alaskan Ling Cod with Oregon Riesling-Braised Artichokes, Green Grapes and Fines Herbes
1½ to 2 lbs fresh Alaskan ling cod
(can substitute any mild white fish such as halibut)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fines herbes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 whole artichokes
2 cups Oregon riesling wine
1 bunch green seedless grapes (about 30 to 40 grapes)
2 tablespoons white Verjus (see story) or juice of ½ lemon
1 small shallot finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
To prepare the artichokes, place the wine in a saucepan large enough to hold wine and artichokes comfortably and heat to medium heat. Remove artichoke. Working quickly, pull leaves off of artichoke until you reach the light green inner leaves. Use a serrated knife to cut top off one artichoke just above light green portion. Use a paring knife to peel stem and trim remaining dark green portions around the heart. Cut artichoke in half lengthwise and use the tip of the paring knife or a spoon to remove hairy choke. Slice lengthwise into eight pieces and return to wine. Repeat with remaining artichoke and bring wine to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until artichokes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and add Verjus or lemon. Take about 20 grapes and squeeze each between your fingers until they burst. Add to the artichokes and wine and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season fish with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fines herbes. Dredge fish in flour, shake off excess. Heat a large sauté pan to medium high and add olive oil. Gently brown fish in olive oil on both sides and place on baking sheet. Place fish in oven to finish cooking while you make the sauce. Add chopped shallots to sauté pan and sauté until translucent. Remove artichokes from wine and set them aside. Strain remaining wine into sauté pan with shallots and reduce by one-third scraping up brown bits in pan. Discard grapes. Whisk butter into sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. Strain sauce back into small saucepan and add artichokes and remaining whole grapes. Set aside. Use a slotted spoon to plate artichokes and grapes in center of each plate. Place fish on top of artichokes and drizzle with remaining sauce. Serve immediately.
Lisa Glickman is a private chef and teacher who lives in Bend. She has made TV appearances on COTV in Central Oregon and recently appeared on the Cooking Channel’s The Perfect Three. She can be reached via her website at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In January, Lisa Glickman won a recipe contest on the Cooking Channel. “They sent me to NYC to tape a short segment for a show called The Perfect Three with Kelsey Nixon. It was a blast!” says Glickman. The recipe was for “Smokey turkey and spinach meatballs.”
The segment aired in May, but Glickman plans to post the show on her website (email@example.com) as soon as she receives the DVD.