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Mar 17, 2015
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WINE WITH…Grouper with Caribbean Creole Sauce Atop Rice & Black Beans

We count ourselves fortunate to have dodged the ice, snow and freezing temperatures that made life miserable for our friends and family back home on the East Coast a couple of weeks ago. By a lucky coincidence, we happened to be far away, enjoying a few days of Caribbean sun rather than of shoveling sidewalks. As a special bonus we enjoyed plenty of good food on our vacation, including a delicious dinner of fish Creole served over rice and beans. While rum punch seemed a perfect accompaniment to the dish in that setting, we were certain that those particular tastes and textures would be equally splendid with wine. We tested our assumptions once we got home, recreating the dish as best as we could remember it, and indeed it did prove a tasty partner for both red and white wines. The only missing ingredients were sea-scented air and warm tropical breezes.

Grouper with Caribbean Creole Sauce, Served Atop Rice and Black Beans

Serves 2

Preheat oven to 400°

For the Marinade:

Juice of 1 lime (about 1/3 cup)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

2 boneless, skinless filets of grouper or other relatively firm fleshed white fish (about 10 ounces total)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup Panko type bread crumbs
2 cups warm, cooked white rice
1 cup warm, cooked black beans (canned is fine)

About 30 minutes before cooking the fish, place the filets on a plate (or small platter). Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour over the fish, turning the filets to make sure both sides get coated with the liquid. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften. Pour in the wine, turn the heat up, and cook the mixture until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the tomatoes. Spoon the marinating juices from the fish into the skillet with the peppers and tomatoes and simmer the sauce until ready to serve.

Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into a small shallow sided baking dish or pan. Coat both sides of the filets with panko and arrange them in the pan. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes, then turn them over and continue baking for another 8-10 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.

To serve, mix the rice and beans together and divide the mixture between two serving plates or bowls. Place the fish on the rice and beans, and top with the Creole sauce.

* * *

Red and white wines work equally well with this spicy yet at the same time subtle dish--with a few caveats. First, stay away from overtly oaky wines, as the wood will obliterate the taste of the fish. Second, choose wines with a relatively high level of acidity, as the creole sauce needs that zesty element in a wine partner. And finally, stay away from wines whose primary virtue is their delicacy. The sauce will simply overwhelm them. Here are our five favorites from among the thirteen different wines we tried.

Questions or Comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com

Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Chateau de la Chaize, Brouilly (Beaujolais, France) 2011

(Imported by Esprit du Vin)

$20

A serious but light-bodied Beaujolais Cru, full of juicy fruit flavors with enough weight to hold its own but not too much so as to prove overpowering with this dish. Chateau de la Chaize tends to release wines later than most Beaujolais producers, and the 20111 is drinking beautifully right now.

Ferraton Père et Fils, Côtes du Rhône Blanc (France) “Samorëns” 2012

(Imported by The Country Vintner)

$13

A bargain because complete and complex, with echoes of nuts and dried herbs beneath its primary fruit, this Rhône white is a crowd pleaser. It lightened the dish, emphasizing the fish rather than the sauce.

Bodega Garzon, (Uruguay) Albariño 2013

(Imported by Blends)

$17

Spicy, with a full texture but nary a hint of wood or vanilla flavor, this Albariño tastes less peachy than its Spanish cousins. Instead, it seems almost autumnal, with apple and pear fruit flavors at its core. Those flavors paired especially well with the Creole sauce.

Lamole di Lamole, Chianti Classico (Tuscany, Italy) 2009

(Imported by Fine Italian Wines & Estates)

$21

A nearly perfect match, the peppery sauce was tamed by this light but piquant Chianti Classico. The wine’s dusty finish proved especially appealing, as it toned down the brightness of the sauce without detracting from the flavor.

Saurus, Patagonia (Argentina) Pinot Noir “Select” 2012

(Imported by Eco Valley)

$23

An impressive Pinot Noir, this wine lacks the excesses that mar so many versions of the variety. It tastes neither hot nor candied, instead providing pleasure due to its forceful but sophisticated character.