We met Cordon Bleu Chef Michael Swamy on the first leg of Nine Hills’ ‘Wine in Food’ -- a 7-day road show that aimed at popularising cooking with wine (watch the event video here). At the event, held at the Westin Garden City Hotel, Mumbai, Chef Swamy made two salad dressings – a Chenin Blanc Vinaigrette, a warm mulled red wine dressing, a chicken main course dish and a dessert. Read on for the salad dressing recipes and Chef Swamy’s tips on choosing the right wine and cooking with it.
Dressing 1: Chenin Blanc Vinaigrette
“All good French chefs basically start with some really good extra virgin olive oil,” says Chef Swamy. So to start with this vinaigrette, take some olive oil and add a little bit of vinegar – not too much because the wine is yet to come in -- and some whole, crushed garlic. Whisk well. Then add the Chenin Blanc, which is a bit sweet and not too dry, into the mix.
Put in a jar and give it a good shake so it all comes together well. Take a bunch of greens, salad rocket and lettuce, and pour the dressing over it just before serving. Add pepper -- always from a height.
Dressing 2: Red Wine Warm Salad Dressing
Put some red wine, a little bit of sugar, rosemary, a whole red chilly slit at the centre, in a pan and put it over low flame for mulling.
In a salad bowl, add crushed and chopped garlic, and cherry tomatoes cut in halves. Squeeze out the juices from the tomatoes with a spoon and give it a whirl. Add a pinch of salt, boiled beetroot and cucumber cubes. Drizzle fresh black pepper.
Once the flavour of spices has infused the red wine, pour the mulled wine into the salad and stir well. Make a bed of fresh salad greens – salad rocket and iceberg lettuce -- and place the warm beetroot and cucumber salad on top of it.
Here are some basic pointers on cooking with wine:
#1: Cook with the wine you plan to serve with the food.
#2: As you cook the dry, red wine down, the tannins in it get very strong. And the fish and light-flavoured meats get very acidic if cooked in reds. "However, when the proteins in the red meat react with the tannins, the magic happens," says Chef Swamy, "The proteins evolve into something more flavourful." So, pair the red meats with red wines and light-flavoured meats like chicken, fish, pork with light-flavoured wines. Chef Swamy adds that certain chicken dishes can be cooked in red wine.
#3: Pair sweet wines preferably with desserts and salads and dry wines with meats and fish.
#4: Pairing wines is simple, says Chef. “Either you like it, or you don’t.” So keep playing around with wines and food to create flavours you like.
#5: Never add too much salt when cooking with wine because it destroys the flavour of the wine.
#6: In cooking, wine basically replaces vinegar because it is acidic.