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    Notes - January 20, 2016

    Photo: (L to R) Mark Donaldson, Chris Churchill and Brad Barker pontificating on all things wine and music

    Once a month, Chris Churchill, Mark Donaldson and Brad Barker educate and entertain us as they talk about what is happening in the world of fine wine and music. And of course, they drink while they entertain. On this episode, Chris, Mark and Brad talk about Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay 2013, Les Dauphins Cotes Du Rhone Reserve, Crozes Hermitage Les Trois Couronnes, First Press Cabernet Sauvignon

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    This classic chicken liver paté recipe comes from Fine Cooking magazine. We serve this by itself with most types of red wine and whites like Rueda, Pinot Grigio and Cava. The only additions we ever make are a few brined green peppercorns on top for a little bite and a bit of crunch. This recipe is also part of the ‘Mount Everest’ of Christmas dinners, Classic Beef Wellington. It’s quite a bit of work, but the result is spectacular and delicious. In case you are curious, here’s the full recipe.

    Confit Chicken Thigh and Sausage Cassoulet

    This is an inexpensive riff on a classic cassoulet that uses ingredients that are readily available. Long cooking times ensure that the flavours are rich and deep. This recipe is easy double for a dinner party.

    Servings: 4

    Chicken Confit:

        1½ pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
        Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
        1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
        2 large shallots, halved
        4 sprigs thyme
        2 bay leaves
        2 tsp Ungava Gin
        1 cup olive oil


        1 large onion, chopped
        4 garlic cloves, chopped
        ½ 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
        4 cups cooked large white beans
        Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
        2 large smoked sausages (andouille if you can find them)
        1 slice thick sourdough bread

    Preheat oven to 225°. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a small Dutch oven or other heavy pot. Arrange garlic, shallots, thyme, bay leaves, and juniper berries around chicken; drizzle oil over. Bring to a very low simmer over medium-low heat, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until meat is very tender, 2–2½ hours. Let cool in oil (preferably overnight).

    Do Ahead: Chicken can be cooked 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.


    Preheat oven to 350°. Heat ⅓ cup oil from chicken confit in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 10–12 minutes. Squeeze garlic cloves from chicken confit from their skins into skillet and add tomatoes, crushing with your hands. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add beans and their cooking liquid. Skim off remaining fat from chicken confit and pour juices (about ½ cup) into skillet (reheat fat in pot just enough to loosen juices underneath if needed). Bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper.
    Transfer bean mixture to a 2–2½-qt. baking dish. Nestle chicken into beans, leaving as much skin exposed as possible, then tuck sausage and shallots from confit chicken around. Cook until chicken skin is very crisp and cassoulet is nicely browned, about 2 hours.

    Pulse bread in a blender or food processor to medium-fine crumbs. Toss crumbs in a small bowl with 1 Tbsp. oil from confit chicken season lightly with salt. Top cassoulet with breadcrumbs and cook until they are golden brown, 20–25 minutes.

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