Today we bring a little comfort food nostalgia, the chicken-fried steak.
How can something so humble go with wine, a beverage many consider more high-brow? Well, that type of seemingly disparate pairing can lead to the best matches.
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Here Champagne, Chilean pinot noir and Italian sangiovese step up to the task.
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CHICKEN-FRIED STEAK WITH PAN GRAVY
On a plate, stir together 1/4 cup flour and a half teaspoon each salt, pepper and paprika. Coat 2 cube steaks with mixture, pressing in to use all the flour. Heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a skillet to 375 degrees. Fry steaks until well-crusted on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn; cook 2 minutes. Remove steaks from skillet. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil. Return skillet to medium-low heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour; cook, 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons chopped tomato and 1 tablespoon chopped onion. Whisk in 1 1/4 cups milk; cook until thick, 3 minutes. Season to taste. Serve gravy with the steaks. Makes: 2 servings
Recipe by William Rice
Pairings by sommelier Rachael Lowe of Spiaggia, as told to Michael Austin:
Pierre Paillard Brut Blanc de Blancs, Bouzy, Champagne: This grower producer sources grapes from the Grand Cru village of Bouzy for this intensely mineral wine made of 100 percent Chardonnay. Expect aromas of chalk, green apple, quince, almond skin and a hint of wet straw. The acidity, structure and bubbles of Champagne always complement richer foods wonderfully, and this one will cut through the batter, and the richness of the meat itself.
2011 Garcia + Schwaderer Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile: This husband-and-wife team came together after making wine at separate wineries, and their Pinot Noir is very well-balanced, with aromas of raspberry, strawberry, a slight herbaceous note of dried thyme and rosemary, and a hint of smoke. The wine is delicate enough to work with the vegetal components of this dish, while the natural acidity will cut through the meat and gravy perfectly.
2012 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy: Since 1985, the Dei family has been producing sangiovese-based wines in Tuscany, and this is a great expression of Vino Nobile, showing notes of plum skin, cranapple, leather, sage and a touch of smoked meats. Sangiovese’s proclivity for higher acid and tannin makes this an ideal pairing, as it not only will balance the richness of the meat, but also the zingy tomato notes in the sauce.