Seafood Fava Beans Chardonnay Perfect Spring and Wine Food Pairing


We eat a lot a myriad of different types and styles of fish and seafood at home.  The variety of things to cook and the ways they can be prepared are endless. It’s healthy, easy to make and allows for a lot of fun in the kitchen.  And more importantly, depending on the desired results, fish works equally well with red wine, white wine or Champagne.

For any meal, especially fish, the key is buying high quality, fresh ingredients. The main reason fish is better at so many restaurants, aside from the lavish amount of butter they use, is they buy the best, freshest fish possible. Buying equally high quality ingredients allows every amateur chef the opportunity to make food as good or better than most of the restaurants you will ever eat in.

It’s important when reading any recipe, as well as something as simple as these articles, to look at everything as a suggestion.  In this dish I used shrimp, scallops and clams. If you do not like shrimp, use another type of fish, or skip it. If clams are not your thing, what about mussels? Or skip that as well. The same for Fava beans.  It does no good to slave over a dish using ingredients that don’t float your boat. Cooking and enjoying the fruits of your labor is about pleasure, not pain.

While some of the dishes I write about look complicated, trust me on this, they are all relatively easy to make.  Take the dish in the picture, which is probably what bright you here today.  It tastes better than it looks and it’s not that difficult to prepare.  Yet, when you’re finished making it, your guests will love it and think you are a rockstar in the kitchen!

I’ve been asked more times than I can count why don’t I offer specific measurements coupled with explicit instructions?  I wish I had a great answer. Perhaps everything is so exact, it would take too long. Or, this is a famous, old family history recipe that I’ve been sworn to secrecy over. Truthfully, I never use them.  Baking is an exact science.  Other than molecular gastronomy, cooking at our home is about touch, timing, taste and feeling.  If you like some ingredients over another, use more or less of it, depending on your personal taste.

For this dish, you need clams, shrimp, scallops, tomatoes, herbs, fish stock, Fava beans and of course, good wine, from any grape varietal of your choice. For this dish, we went with the recently delivered 2008 Marcassin Chardonnay.

The Fava Beans are the most time consuming part of the dish.  You need to remove the beans from the pod and the beans from the shells.  That is a lot of work as each bean must be peeled, else they will taste bitter.  The trick to doing this relative quickly is, take the beans from the pods, drop them in boiling salted water for 30 seconds, place them in an ice bath and squeeze them at their tips. This should cause the bean to shoot from the skin.

At some point earlier in the day, take extra virgin olive oil place it in a small dish.  Add slices of raw garlic and red chili flakes and allow them to sit together for a few hours.  Drain the olive oil so no garlic and not that many pepper flakes remain.

Get a non-stick pan piping hot, drizzle the olive oil and after seasoning your shrimp, place them in the pan until they change color. Using the same pan, add the scallops and cook until done. While all that is going on, in a large pan, add a bottle of wine white. Preferably not the Marcassin. Toss in the clams. Remove the clams when they are fully open.  The Fava beans can used raw, or cooked for a short period of time with some garlic and olive oil.

To bring all this together, which is where the money shot of flavor comes in, take the same pan that you cooked the shrimp and scallops in and add your stock, shrimp and scallops and let it cook together for a bit.  Take a deep bowl, place your seafood with some of the remaining juice, top with the Fava beans, chopped herbs, small tomatoes if you like and serve.

If you want the dish to be heartier, add spicy sausage, bacon or Pancetta. Pair with the wine of your choice and you have a perfect spring meal. Make sure your grill up some bread to soak up all the deep broth. I told you it was easy.

If you went with the sausage or Pancetta, which is what I wanted to do, but we had a vegetarian at dinner, you can easily pair this dish with Bordeaux, Rhone or other red wines. The earthy, smoky flavors will make a great wine, food pairing. You can also go with a white wine of your choice, in this case, we opened our first bottle of 2008 Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay.

This wine is almost off the charts. Packed and stacked with layers of ripe citrus, lemon rind, vanilla, stone and flowers, this was is intense, mouth filling and rich. Yet, everything is in balance and focused. The long finish continues for at least 40 seconds. Popped and poured, the wine softened and came together with 30 minutes of air. At this stage, I prefer the 2007, but with another year or 2 in the bottle, the results could be quite different. 98 Pts


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