We paired the 2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca’Bertoldi Amarone* with Pasta e Fagioli, Steak Gorgonzola, Rosemary Potatoes, Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce, and Parmesan Cheese with Honey and Balsamic Vinegar drizzle.
We decanted the wine and left it to breathe for an hour before dinner so that it could open up, as was suggested in my researching the proper serving of Amarone wines. While cooking dinner, the wine sat, in its decanter, emitting an intoxicating aroma of plums and blackberry. My anticipation built over the course of cooking dinner, as I thought, “If this wine is as grand as the nose suggests,we are surely in for a treat.”
The first course was Giada’s Pasta e Fagioli. This dish had to be modified, as I didn’t have cheesecloth, nor did I have sprigs of fresh thyme. What I did instead was add a teaspoon of dried thyme, a tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary, and the bay leaf without creating a sachet of herbs. I didn’t skimp on the red pepper flakes. We like heat in this household, and so my pinch of red pepper flakes was generous! I ladled the soup into bowls, drizzled a bit of olive oil and added the grated parmesan, and then brought the bowls out to the table.
Before tasting the Amarone with the pasta e fagioli, we tried the wine. On the nose, there was a fruity bouquet of the aforementioned plums and blackberry cassis, but there were also hints of tobacco and vanilla. On the tongue, the wine was robust and meaty. It was deeply floral with black cherry. I thought, “I’m not quite sure this will pair well with a soup. This may overpower the soup.”
I was wrong.
The pancetta, kidney beans, and red pepper flakes were a great paring for the wine. The heat on the wine paired well with the heat at the end of the bite of the soup. It brought out a butter quality in the wine, and highlighted the Amarone’s dry and tannic qualities.
For comparison, we decided to try the soup with Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards’ Sangiovese Rosé, a wine we’ve gotten a lot of milage out of. This was a complete mismatch. The soup really needed a robust wine to stand up to it and push back. The Sangiovese Rosé just got lost. There was no comparison – the soup reduced a normally very robust rosé wine to seltzer water. The pasta e fagioli and the Amarone, however, were perfectly paired.
The soup and wine were so great together, we had to enjoy seconds of each!
The steak came out perfectly. I brushed a mixture of 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 small minced shallot, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. white pepper over the steaks and let them rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature. When it was time, I placed them in the broiler for about 6 minutes each side. I removed them, crumbled 2 packages of gorgonzola cheese over the steaks, sprinkled 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs over the cheese, and added green onions that I had brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper to the broiling rack. I put them under the broiler (on the high setting) for 3 minutes, until the cheese was good and bubbling.
The mushrooms sautéed in red wine were super-easy. As a tip, rather than use good wine as cooking wine (as a means of saving money), you can use those small bottles that come in 4-packs. This way, too, you do not have to uncork a full bottle of wine for using in your recipes. I sautéed 2 packs of sliced white mushrooms, 2 minced shallots, and a teaspoon of thyme in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (I always use unsalted so that I control the amount of salt that appears in a dish.). I added kosher salt and pepper to taste, then let the mushrooms cook until they were looking good and browned. I then added half of one of the small bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and scraped up the browned bits. Then, I cooked the mushrooms with the wine until the wine had mostly evaporated. I added 1/4 cup of chicken broth (because I had some left after making the soup), and cooked down the liquid. Once that was done, I added some cream (about 1/3 cup) and some chopped fresh chives off the heat.
For the rosemary potatoes, I cut about 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes into 1″ chunks, then tossed them in 1/4 cup of olive oil, added a teaspoon each sea salt and fresh ground pepper, 5 cloves of minced garlic, and minced rosemary from 5 sprigs. I then threw the potatoes into an oven that had been heated to 400 degrees, and cooked them for 1 hour, stirring them up at 20 minutes in and 40 minutes in. I think it would have been better had I stopped cooking them at 40 minutes, as they were a little overdone in the end. I had to pick through them and discard the potatoes that were not edible. Those that survived the wrath of too long in the oven were quite delicious despite being a bit too browned.
Once everything was done, I plated it up and served it along with our third glass of Amarone.
Let me preface this section of the review with these key words: If you have the chance, you must try an Amarone.
With the steak and the gorgonzola cheese, the Amarone really softened. It took on that cigar box quality Wining Husband and I really enjoy in deep reds. The steaks definitely brought out the smokier qualities of the wine on the palate. The mushrooms brought out the tannins in a very good way, and the potatoes brought out the more fruity qualities of the wine. We took our time with the meal, savoring every bite – because, well, it was truly amazing.
After resting a bit, I brought out the parmigiano reggiano we scored at Grocery Outlet (In case you didn’t know, this discount store is a cheese lover’s dream). I drizzled a tablespoon each of honey and balsamic vinegar over the cheese. Now, this alone, was amazing. I’d never thought to do such a thing, but had found this suggestion somewhere in my RSS feeds, and I figured this would be the perfect time to give it a try.
With the Amarone, the cheese brought out a sweet yet dry flavor to the wine – yes, that is an oxymoron, but the wine took on a wonderful flair. It also was much lighter than with the soup. It was definitely the perfect way to finish the meal.
What happened to the tiramisu cake and Elyssium? We had to save those for the next night, as we were quite full following this meal!
*All opinions in this post are my own. While Wine Chateau sent me the complimentary bottle of wine, I was not compensated for this post.