Bacon. There, I said it.
Crisp savory bacon with some other ingredients, namely chicken stock, potatoes and leeks make this a super easy hearty dish to have in the middle of winter when Punxsutawney Phil tells us to hunker down for six more weeks (damn that little rodent!). What could be easier than throwing everything into a crock pot and forgetting about it until the next day when you're ready to chow down?
- leeks - 4 cups thinly sliced
- new potatoes - 4 cups cut into small cubes
- chicken stock - 3 cups
- bacon - 6 slices cooked
- green onions - 1 bunch, chopped
- salt and pepper - to taste
- gruyere cheese - for garnish
- half and half - 1/2 cup (optional)
1. Cut ends of leeks off then slice leeks into thin strands.
2. Cut potatoes into bite sized cubes. Combine leeks, potatoes, crumbled cooked bacon and chicken stock in a crock pot and cook on low for 10 hours.
3. Use an immersion blender or hand masher to mash ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add half & half if desired. Serve with shredded gruyere cheese or garnish of your choice.
Because it's such a savory hearty dish we may want to have some wine to not only offset the saltiness from the stock, but remind ourselves we earned it. There's an equal balance of flavors and textures coming through—thick heartiness from the potatoes and fresh green vegetable from the leeks.
Some grapes that come to mind as a match would be Semillon, especially from Hunter Valley Australia where the white wines have a nice refreshing level of acidity to cut through the thick soup, but also brings it with some green vegetable notes that compliment. Also, Albariño is certainly a possibility because it too has fresh acidity as well as undertones of fresh herbs like thyme or oregano. Chardonnay lovers will be happy to know they can pull corks on their favorite weeknight Chardie because the contrast of tropical, orchard and tree fruits along with smokiness from oak lends itself to the bacon and earthy potato flavors. Two suggestions worth checking out:
2011 Brokenwood Semillon, Hunter Valley $16 - The aforementioned crisp, fresh acidity is necessary for structure and also to cut through thicker foods. The way you can tell if a wine has acidity is take a sip, then 3 seconds later pay attention to the inside of your cheeks. If they start dripping with salivation, that's acidity. If they tingle a little but don't drip with salivation, the wine probably has moderate acidity. Brokenwood makes one of the better values in Semillon—it's a fresh garden in a glass that goes well with the fresh garden in the soup.
2010 Domaine Jean-Marc Chassagne-Montrachet $30 - Chardonnay from Burgundy, especially around these parts can be some of the best (and most expensive) in the world. The thirty dollar price tag may be creeping up depending on which stores have figured out the wine is a steal.
Although it's a Villages level Chardonnay, it's still delicious packing a full boat of rich, creamy tree fruits, orchard fruits clean acidity and just the right amount of oak. I'd put this up against $80 bottles of Chardonnay from the new world any day of the week.
A good idea if you can find the wine under $45 is to buy a few bottles as they'll age nicely for a few years and only get better. Thank me later.