Frei Brothers 2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($20), our Wine of the Week, possesses every quality lovers of the varietal want: It is rich, with flavors of baked apple, pineapple upside down cake, ripe pear, sweet citrus, and a whisper of raw honey. The texture is lush yet with enough acidity to keep your palate refreshed. There’s a hint of toastiness, too
It’s a classic California chardonnay with for a remarkable price.
At the table, this wine will blossom best with foods such as sweet potatoes, winter squash, cauliflower, sweet shellfish such as scallops and rock shrimp, chicken, and cream sauces alongside. Risotto with winter squash or golden beets is an excellent match, as are pumpkin ravioli in cream sauce. On a stormy might, you can enjoy this wine with toast slathered with butter and just a bit of apple butter or pear butter. One of the best companions for this wine is cauliflower; the two pair up beautifully. For today’s recipe, I’ve combined roasted cauliflower with gently poached chicken breast, tied together with a voluptuous roasted garlic cream sauce. The recipe is not difficult, but it does have three parts, which requires a bit of planning so that everything is ready at the right time.
Poached Chicken Breast with Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce & Roasted Cauliflower
1 garlic bulb, loose outer skins removed, roots cleaned of dirt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
1 medium cauliflower, large central stem trimmed and discarded
4 chicken breasts, boned
2 cups chicken stock, not
2 cups half-and-half
6 thyme sprigs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put the garlic into a small ovenproof dish. Drizzle the olive oil over in and season with salt and pepper. Add enough water to come about ½ inch up the side of the pot, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and set in the oven. Cook until the garlic is as tender as warm butter when pressed with your thumb. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, set the cauliflower on a roasting pan and pour a little olive oil in a bowl. Use a pastry brush to coat the cauliflower with oil; season with salt and pepper and set on the middle rack of the oven. Cook until the cauliflower is golden brown and tender when pierced with a fork or bamboo skewer, about 35 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the head and how tightly together the florets are.
While the cauliflower cooks, put the chicken breasts into an ovenproof dish that will hold them in a single layer. Season all over with salt and pepper and pour in the stock. Set in the oven and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil.
When the garlic is cool enough to handle, carefully separate the cloves. With the cloves on a clean work surface, use the palm of your hand to press out the garlic. Discard the skins and use a fork to mash the garlic into a smooth puree. Set aside briefly. (Reserve the cooking liquid to make roasted garlic vinaigrette.)
To finish, pour the half-and-half into a small saucepan, add 2 thyme sprigs, and one cup of the poaching liquid (reserve the rest for making stock). Set over medium high heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced to about two cups. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Whisk in the garlic puree, taste, and season with salt and pepper.