Recipe Question

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A frequent visitor (Hey Chuck!) to this site sent me this message and these recipes:

Two recipes with the same question: what wine should go with them?

As part of this whole new “getting fit” thing, I’ve dug out a cookbook I got for Christmas a few years back that features healthy recipes in smallish portions (appropriate for 1-4 people, which is a good size for people just starting out). I’ve especially taken a liking to two recipes, but I have no idea what wine would go with them. Any ideas?

New Maryland Crab Cakes (serves 2)

1 slice firm-textured white bread
1 egg
1 tablespoon mayo
1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 lb. lump crab meat, picked over for shells/cartilage
1 tablespoon shallots, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat the Oven to 400.

Make bread crumbs in a blender. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until foamy, then beat in the mayo and mustard. Add the crab meat, bread crumbs, shallots, Old Bay, and salt. Mix with your hands until everything is very well-blended. Then gently shape into 2 patties, both of which will be big–around 1″ thick, if not a little more.

Use the oil to brush two circles the size of the cakes on a baking sheet. Put the cakes on the oil circles, then bake 15-20 minutes (until the tops are slightly brown). Serve hot. (Also, FWIW, these are especially good reheated in the microwave.)

Braised Beef & Mushrooms with Rigatoni (serves 2)

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 lb. cubed lean beef (the recipe actually calls for veal, but I’ve interpreted this as “the cheapest lean beef I can find,” since I’m living on student loans)
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced thick
1/4 cup Madeira or Marsala
2 cups beef broth
1 cup rigatoni
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a 10″, nonstick, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown it well, turning as necessary, then push it to the side of the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and wine. Cook and stir for two minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 45-60 minutes, or until the meat is fork-tender.

Add the rigatoni to the skillet. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot in shallow bowls with some of the broth.

My answer:

Both recipes sound pretty good.

Crab cakes – Something crisp, citrusy and unoaked. Pinot Gris (Oregon or Alsace, preferably) would be my first choice. Sauvignon Blanc or Muscadet might be good, too.

Beef – I think there are a lot of reds that would be good with this, but I would serve a nice Cotes du Rhone with it. It would be a great match and it is cheap. I’ve been drinking a lot of Perrin Reserve lately, and I think it could fool a lot of people into thinking they were drinking a much more expensive wine from the region. Should be under 10 bucks.

If Chuck takes my advice, I hope he comes back and lets us know how it went. If anyone else has questions like this, feel free to ask.

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