What do you do with leftover wine?
It could happen
Back in the late 1970s my wife and I used to go out for a steak dinner to a tavern in Virden called Rockenbachs. We were newbie wine connoisseurs at the time and enjoyed drinking Lambrusco, a semisweet sparkling red wine, reminiscent of Sparkling Burgundy. Rockenbachs had few bottles of Lambrusco in the beer cooler. I remember once telling the server we would like to order a bottle. She looked at us like we were hardcore winos. “You want a whole bottle?” she asked with deep concern. For a moment I thought she would refuse to serve us.
My wife and I never seemed to have had trouble drinking a “whole bottle” of wine with dinner during a special evening out. However during evenings at home, especially when I have to work the next day, a whole bottle is sometimes too much. At various times, I have sprayed the partial bottle with nitrogen to prevent oxidation, but most of the time I just cork it up and put it in the fridge. If I don’t end up drinking the remainder in the next day or two, rather than pouring it down the sink, I freeze it in ice cube trays for use in cooking.
BASIC PAN SAUCE
Leftover wine is useful making pan sauces to serve with seared or braised meats.
- Heat 1-2 tbsp. neutral oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Cook the meat until deeply browned and fully cooked; do not worry about the brown bits that will be stuck in the pan. This is the “fond” which will be the base for your pan sauce. Remove the meat and allow to rest.
- Pour off any fat from the skillet, but retain the brown bits. Turn the heat down to medium and add finely chopped shallots or onion and minced garlic. Cook and stir for about 4 minutes until the vegetables are softened.
- Add about a half a cup of wine and simmer, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond. Cook about 5 minutes until reduced by about half.
- Remove from the heat and swirl in a tablespoon of butter. Season it with salt and pepper. Slice the meat and drizzle the pan sauce over or serve it alongside.
MY WIFE’S SAUERBRATEN
Leftover wine can also be used as a marinade. Sauerbraten is my favorite pot roast. Red wine and red wine vinegar are used as a marinade to flavor and tenderize marinate chuck roast.
For the marinade:
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cups red wine
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 bay leaves, crumbled
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- Peel from 1 lemon
- 2 cups roughly chopped onion
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- A handful of parsley stems
- 2-6 lbs chuck roast
To braise the beef:
- 3 tbsp. bacon fat
- 2 cups unsalted or low sodium beef stock
- 3 tbsp. cornstarch
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, if needed
Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a crock big enough to hold the meat and marinade completely. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, and put a small plate on top to keep the meat submerged. Refrigerate for 4-5 days, turning the beef once or twice daily (or use a large resealable freezer bag).
Take the beef from the refrigerator 2 hours before you are ready to braise it. Strain the marinade into a saucepan. Pat the meat dry and let it come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the strained marinade and stock in a saucepan and place on low heat.
In a large nonreactive Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking.
Put the beef in the pot and brown its top and bottom well. Remove the meat and pour off any excess fat. Place the beef back in the pot, and add enough stock/marinade so that the liquid comes about 1/3 of the way up the roast. Keep the remaining liquid warm.
Bring the pot to a boil, then cover with lid and braise in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the meat, replace the lid, and continue braising until the meat is very tender, at least another 1 1/2 hours or longer, depending on the roast’s size. Throughout the entire cooking time, baste with the marinade/stock about every 30 minutes until all is used.
Remove the meat from the pot to a warm platter. Whisk together the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water, then add to the pot, whisking constantly until the cornstarch is incorporated. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture has thickened.
Slice the sauerbraten across the grain and place on a warm platter. Serve the sauerbraten with some of the sauce spooned over the slices; pass the remaining sauce separately.
EGGS POACHED IN RED WINE
(Adapted from Mark Bittman in the New York Times)
Poaching eggs in red wine creates a quick meal with nice chocolate-raspberry flavors. Served with a salad, you can have a meal on the table in less than 15 minutes.
- Extra virgin olive oil as needed
- 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- 4 thick slices day-old bread
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups red wine
- 4 eggs
- Grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
- Put 3 or 4 tablespoons oil in a large skillet and turn heat to medium. Add garlic and cook, turning occasionally, until it just begins to color. Lower heat a bit and add bread; sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper. Cook, turning once or twice, until bread is crusty and golden.
- Meanwhile, heat wine in a saucepan and add some salt. When wine boils, reduce heat to a low simmer. Carefully slip eggs in and cook, spooning wine over them, until whites are barely firm.
- Scoop eggs into 2 or 4 bowls, along with some wine. Add a piece or two of bread to each bowl, garnish with cheese and parsley, and serve.
Contact Peter Glatz at firstname.lastname@example.org.