Our Wine of the Week, Las Rocas 2011 Garnacha ($14), is a lovely quaffer, a lively red wine with layers of fruit flavors, especially cherries and berries. Anyone who loves red wine will enjoy this one.
In the glass, the wine gives off a rich ruby glow, with sweet aromas mingling with hints of cocoa and vanilla. On the palate, the wine is punctuated with little pops of sweet spice, especially clove and allspice. As the wine splashes onto your palate, bright cherry flavors spread voluptuously until the long finish emerges with firm but fairly smooth tannins.
The wine is lovely with a broad range of foods, from pork tenderloin and grilled lamb to eggplant, tomatoes, farro, wild rice, black beans, chickpeas and more.
Inspiration for today's recipe comes from a Spanish tapas that combines spinach or kales with a rough puree of chickpeas spiked with cumin and paprika. It's a great combination of flavors that resonate beautifully with the wine. Here, the chickpeas remain whole and serve as a bed for succulent, slow-cooked pork.
Braised Pork with Chickpeas and Greens
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 to 2 1/2 pounds pork butt or shoulder, cooked and cut into chunks (see Note below)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, minced
2 shallots, minced, or 1 small yellow onion, diced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika, mild, agridolce or smoked
1 pound Lacinato kale, rinsed, trimmed and cut into crosswise ribbons
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
114-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
— Black pepper in a mill
Prepare the pork if you have not already done so. Set it aside.
Put the olive oil into a deep saute pan set over medium low heat, add the pancetta and saute until it loses its raw look. Add the shallots or onion and saute until limp and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute more.
Season with salt and stir in the cumin and paprika.
Add the kale and sprinkle the vinegar over it. Cook until the kale just begins to wilt. Turn the kale so that it picks up the aromatics and spices, add the chickpeas and about two-thirds of the pork, cover the pan and cook until the kale is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Transfer to a warmed platter, scatter the remaining pork on top and serve immediately.
Note: Use leftover pork if you have it. If not, rub the pork with a blend of salt, sweet Spanish paprika, hot Spanish paprika and black pepper. Put it in an oven-proof dish, add 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and about 1 cup of water, cover the pan and set in a 300-degree oven. Cook for 2 hours or until the pork is fork tender. Cool and chop into one-and-one-half inch chunks.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at email@example.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.