Welcome back Kara! Here’s the second post in her “Cooking with Wine”series. If you missed part one, have a look here

“Wine is sunshine, held together by water” – Galileo Galileo

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One of the things I have learnt over the years is that there is a very fine line between an average meal and a great meal. Sometimes, the difference is a mere two minutes longer in the pan, or a slightly more reduced sauce. The difference between an average salad and a great salad is the quality of the dressing, or the correct amount of seasoning. So why serve an average meal, when all it takes is a few more minutes or a little more effort to serve up an exceptional dish. With a few simple little pantry items, you can really add some major sparkle to your usual drab dinner spread. I have learnt to always keep a few items in my fridge that can be added to a simple dish to give it that wow factor. Most of these “items” are inspired by wine. After all, wine will improve any dish, any moment, and any person.

My absolute favourite, and go-to dinner party ingredient, is my red wine and rosemary butter.

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I usually make a batch, roll it into a sausage and keep it in the fridge. It will last months and actually get better with age. I just slice off a piece as I need it. This red wine butter is so versatile and truly delicious! I personally love it as is, just spread on a fresh, crusty baguette. This is always a hit when served as a snack or part of a platter!

However, here are a few ways to use it to take an average meal to an exceptional meal!

  • Grilled steak, topped with a slice of the red wine butter just as it comes off the coals. Let the butter melt on top of the steak as you serve it. This is always a hit!!!
  • Tossed into freshly cooked pasta, serve as a side to red meat dish
  • Tossed into freshly cooked pasta – add grilled chicken pieces and mushroom for a quick easy dinner
  • Add a dollop on top of a baked potato
  • Knead it into the dough of your favourite bread recipe for an enriched red-wine loaf.
  • Serve with cheese scones and some biltong shavings for a unique high tea treat
  • Rub it all over a whole chicken and roast at 200 degrees for roughly 60min. The result is a delicious butter basted chicken with a red wine and rosemary flavour

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Rustic red wine and rosemary butter

I have kept the quantity at just enough for about 3 meals, depending on how you serve it, so feel free to double up if you want to make bulk.

 Ingredients:

¾ cup red wine
+- ¼ red onion, finely chopped (this should amount to 3TB when chopped)
1 tsp garlic, chopped
A few sprigs of rosemary, chopped
1 tsp red wine jelly* or red current jelly
150g butter
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Wax wrap for rolling and storing
*I use the Froggit Red Wine and Rosemary jelly. This is perfect for this recipe and has so many different uses too! But any red current or even cranberry jelly works too.

Method:

  • Remove butter from fridge and allow to soften at room temperature. Set aside.
  • Gently fry the onions until just translucent
  • Add the garlic and fry until soft and aromatic
  • Add the rosemary
  • Increase the heat and add the wine
  • Carefully ignite the wine using a match or lighter and let the flames erupt! This is the fun part!!! Feel like a Gordon Ramsey for a moment!
  • If you are unable to, or cannot get the wine to catch alight, don’t worry! Just allow it to cook for a few moments until the alcohol cooks out.
  • Add the jelly
  • Reduce the liquid significantly. In other words, allow the liquid to simmer away for a while until it has reduced and thickened slightly. You want to end up with a little less than ¼ cup of liquid. But when it starts to thicken slightly you will know it is ready.
  • Allow the liquid to cool
    • Once the liquid has cooled, add it to your butter. I mix mine in my electric mixer as it’s much easier. I would suggest this, but if you don’t have an electric mixer, just whip it really well with a whisk and then wooden spoon.
    • Taste, and add salt and pepper as you feel necessary.
    • Spoon the butter onto a piece of wax paper and roll into a sausage. (see pic) Twist the ends and wrap again in cling film. The butter can be stored like this for up to 3 months in the fridge. As you need it, slice some off and serve!