Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wine o' the Week!

May friendship, like wine, improve as time advances. 
And may we always have old wine, old friends, and young cares.
~Irish toast~

We decided that, in honor of the upcoming St. Patrick's Day celebrations, it would be helpful to give you a "Thelma and Louise Approved" Illinois wine to pair with your inevitable meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage. It isn't easy to decide which wine to enjoy with this dish since it IS beef  - typically a "Red" pairing. But the beef is corned (preserved in salt water - that's what "corned" means! :-) so we thought it called for a lighter, semi-sweet white or nice rose.

Blue Sky Vineyards (blueskyvineyard.com) is on the Thelma and Louise Road Trip Bucket List for 2014! It is located in Makanda as part of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trails of Southern Illinois (shawneewinetrail.com). We met the owner, Jim Ewers, a few months back. He is one of the nicest people you could meet! In addition to the winery, Blue Sky Vineyards has two beautiful suites for guests who want to make their visit to the Shawnee Forest wine country longer than just a few hours.

Blue Sky Vineyard owner, Jim Ewers, meets
Thelma and Louise at Inside Out.
We have become right partial to Blue Sky Vineyards wines after we were hooked up with them at one of our favorite hang-outs, Inside Out in Gilman. Rocky Comfort Red as well as the White, and Chambourcin Reserve, are among our favorites. And we were introduced to the delicious Shawnee Cream Sherry at the 2014 Utica Winter Wine Walk. The labels on their wines are always so interesting! If you're one of those folks who picks wines based on the label, like us sometimes, you'll have to check these out!

We settled on a rose to pair with corned beef and cabbage, choosing Blue Sky Vineyards Chambourcin Blush as a perfect choice! Blue Sky describes the award-winning Chambourcin Blush as: "light-bodied sweet wine is made from 100% Chambourcin grapes. A light strawberry flavor with a clean berry finish, sure to please any palate." And it pleases us just fine, and we think you'll like it too!

Blue Sky Vineyard Chambourcin Blush
(Don't you love the label?!)
Thelma has some Irish in her gene-pool that was passed on to her by her Mama who had red, curly hair. She was a fair maiden with Irish sassiness to match her German might! And Mama Mary got her Irish from her mother, Florence Margaret Gleeson ~ how's that for an Irish name?!

So it may seem natural that a traditional corned beef and cabbage meal on St. Patrick's Day would be expected for Thelma to whip up! We thought we'd share the recipe with you, just in case you wanted to have a new recipe to try. It's a recipe from "Cora's Country Cookbook" ("Cora" was Margaret Hamilton of "The Wizard of Oz" fame...hired by General Foods, circa 1977, to promote their products), and it takes a while to make. The added glaze in this recipe adds a little sweetness to the salty. It is so-o-o-o good, you'll be glad you tried it!

Glazed Corned Beef Brisket with Cabbage & Carrots

3 lbs. corned beef brisket (we prefer a flat cut)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium head of cabbage, cored and cut in wedges
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut in half

Place the brisket in a heavy saucepan and cover with water. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaves (note: if your corned beef comes with a seasoning packet - many of them do - throw that in the water, too). Cover and bring to a boil; simmer for one hour. Drain the water and spices from the saucepan (NOTE: If you think this seems silly to do, it takes the excess salt and fat out of the corned beef...just do it!). Cover the brisket again with fresh water, and simmer it until the meat is tender - about 2 to 3 hours. 

Remove the brisket from the saucepan, but reserve the liquid. Put the cabbage and carrots into the liquid and simmer until tender (you can also add a few cut-up red potatoes and onions, too, if you'd like). While the veggies cook, place the brisket in a shallow baking pan. Set the oven at 350 degrees, then mix:

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup prepared Yellow mustard
1 TBS prepared horseradish

Spoon half of this mixture over the brisket and place it in the oven; baste frequently for the next 20 minutes, or until well glazed. Serve the deliciously glazed, sliced corned beef with the yummy vegetables! For a real touch of the Irish, add some warm soda bread from your local bakery.

Thelma's Glazed Corned Beef & Cabbage

Oh, yeah, don't forget to serve the chilled bottle of Blue Sky Vineyard's Chambourcin Blush! You'll feel like you found the pot o'gold at the end of the leprechaun's rainbow!

Mama Mary's favorite Irish prayer