Our Wine of the Week, Harken 2016 California Chardonnay ($15), is a classic, exactly the sort of wine people think about when they think of the varietal’s expression in the state.
It is full, round and rich in the mouth, with flavors of baked apple, Asian pear butter, vanilla and ripe pear, with hints of lightly toasted bread. There’s a suggestion of sweetness — think custard — swirling around in the wine’s creamy texture and luscious finish.
Although this has long been the most popular style of chardonnay in the United States, it can be challenging to pair it successfully at the table. The foods this style engages with in limited but thoughtful matches will make the wine soar. Shellfish, corn, sweet peppers, chicken, guinea fowl, braised fennel,winter squash, carrots, Cheddar cheese, Brie, and rich sauces — Hollandaise, for example, and its cousin, Béarnaise — all make good matches. Spaghetti with a fresh tomato-butter sauce is an easy and delicious match, especially with fall’s dead-ripe tomatoes.
The wine benefits from a mingling of flavors, as we see in today’s dish. The fresh corn and roasted sweet peppers in the succotash form a delicious bed for sautéed snapper and the roasted pepper butter ties everything together deliciously. If you like, you can make both the butter and the succotash a day before preparing the meal.
Snapper with a Simple Fall Succotash & Roasted Pepper Butter
Serves 3 to 4
— Red Pepper Butter (recipe follows)
— Succotash (recipe follows)
3-4 snapper fillets (or similar fish, if snapper is not available)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned generously with salt and pepper, in a shaker
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley
Make the red pepper butter; this can be done a day in advance.
Make the succotash, cover, set it aside, and keep warm.
Set the snapper fillets on a clean work surface and shake seasoned flour all over them; be generous. Pick up the fillets, one at a time, and pat gently with a paper towel to remove excess flour.
Set a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil, and when the butter is melted jostle the pan a bit to distribute it evenly.
Add the fillets, working in batches if necessary, and cook on one side until golden brown, about 5 minutes; turn and cook until the other side is equally browned, another 3 to 5 minutes. Cut 3 or 4 quarter-inch thick rounds of the roasted pepper butter.
Working quickly, divide the succotash among individual plates; drape a fillet over the succotash and top with a round of butter. Sprinkle with Italian parsley.
Roasted Pepper Butter
Makes about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons minced roasted red peppers
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
— Kosher salt
— Pinch of sugar, if needed