How to Pair Beer With Enchiladas

Hey guys! I'm so excited to share with you today some footage from last weekend's camping trip in the Sierras. Since I'm trying to make as much content as possible, why not make a video of what we ate and drank?

So I give you, Dinner and Drinks, camping edition.

Andrew and I like to go all-out when it comes to eating while camping, but that doesn't mean we want to spend hours cooking (unless that means sitting around a campfire while your food cooks!). So prepping ahead is key.

This was the first time I made this enchilada recipe, and it was very easy to prep at home and then just assemble in camp. We just cooked them on the stovetop, but if you're making these while camping, feel free to use a grill or a dutch oven in the campfire, whichever you prefer. The meat is already cooked prior to camp so you basically just need to warm everything up and melt the cheese!

Check out the video for some fun camping footage:

The Pairing

To me, the best beer to pair with Mexican fare like enchiladas is American Pale Ale, which is a snappy, refreshing beer that showcases the flavors of Cascade hops. Pale Ales have a fresh, citrusy quality (from the hops!) that match the spices in dishes like enchiladas. They are also fairly bitter, which will cut through the fattiness of all the cheese as well.

I brought along Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on our camping trip, but feel free to use any American Pale Ale you prefer. If you can't find any Pale Ale, American IPA will also work nicely, although since it is more bitter and has less FLAVOR from the hops, it is not my first choice. But then again we were camping, so I wouldn't have been too picky on any beer I drank with dinner. Cheers and happy pairing!


Camping Enchiladas

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1.5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
  • 1 (4 oz) can of diced green chiles
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 can refried beans
  • sour cream (for topping)
  • salsa (for topping)

At Home:

In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add diced chicken and green chiles, season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked completely through. Remove from heat. If making for camping, let cool and store in a container in the cooler until ready to use.

At Camp:

1. Lightly oil a cast iron pan or dutch oven. Place some of the chicken mixture, refried beans, enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese into a tortilla, then roll up and place in the pan.

2. Continue filling remaining tortillas (we ate 2 per person and were STUFFED!) then place, rolled up, into a line in the pan. top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Any remaining beans may be heated separately and served on the side.

3. Place pan over medium-high heat on a grill or stovetop. To make the cheese melt quicker, place foil on top. If using a dutch oven in a campfire, place near hot coals...the enchiladas will be done in about 15 minutes.

4. Serve with sour cream, salsa, chopped onion, cilantro, or whatever other toppings you desire!

beer enchiladas pin.jpg

The Best Beers to Pair With Chicken Wings

This beer pairing may be a no-brainer since wings and beer go together like PB and J. But beers come in all shapes and flavors, so some will accentuate particular wings moreso than others. Read on to find out which beer is best with your favorite chicken wings.

Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

You may remember this post I did about a month ago on which wine to pair with wings...which is a difficult pairing because wine and wings are not best friends like beer and wings.

There I said it. Sorry, wine lovers. Beer wins this round. Can you imagine a night at the bar with your favorite basket of wings without a cold, delicious beer alongside it? (But not too cold, because icy cold beer has no flavor [wink wink].) Beer naturally works well with wings because the carbonation cools down the spicy flavors in whatever wing sauce you've got going on. If the wings are sweet, the malt in the beer will also complement that. Whether you want to accentuate the spiciness of the wings or calm it down is another story though. Depending on if you can handle the heat or not determines which beer you should have alongside.

Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

If You Like It Hot and Want It Hotter

...then go with a hoppy beer. Hops in beer actually accentuate the heat in foods, so the IPA you have next to your wings will actually make those wings taster hotter. So for people like me that can't handle the heat, IPAs are a no-no. But people like my husband? Bring on the heat! The hoppier your beer, the more it will accentuate the spiciness of the wings, so here's a list of beers to pick out going from medium to most-hoppy (with my suggestions in parenthesis):

  • Hoppy Lager (Anchor Lager, Sudwerk California Lager)
  • American Amber Ale (Speakeasy Prohibition Ale)
  • American Pale Ale (Victory Headwaters, Sierra Nevada)
  • India Pale Ale (Firestone Union Jack, Great Basin Icky IPA)
  • Double IPA (Harpoon Leviathon, Dogfish Head 90 Minute)

If You Eat Hot Wings But Want to Cool Down With Beer

...then go for a malt-focused ale or straightforward lager. If hops aren't at the forefront of the beer profile then surely the malt will be, and malt will ease the heat of those chicken wings so you can cool down. These are my favorite beers to pair with spicy wings because I like to get some spice but then cool down from the refreshing swig of beer. Basically, malt (the grains in beer) provide the sweetness in beer, which is balanced by the addition of hops. Beer that doesn't have a lot of hops in it will therefore be more malty, which will cool down the spice in hot chicken wings. This includes all of those mass-market American Lagers too, so don't worry about pairing one of them with your wings (I give you permission!). Here are some of my suggestions of beer to cool down your wings:

  • Oktoberfest/Marzen (Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen, Victory Festbier)
  • English Brown Ale (Newcastle, Sam Smith's)
  • Pilsner (North Coast Scrimshaw, Firestone Pivo)
  • Hefeweizen/Wheat Ale (New Belgium Snapshot, Weihenstephaner)
  • Kolsch
Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

If you Like Sweet or Tangy Wings

If spice just ain't-yo-thang, don't worry--beer will still keep you covered. Any of the above beers in the "cool you down" category will work just fine, but you also have some other options. Belgian ales in particular are going to be your friend with sweet wings, because almost all of them have some sort of fruity spiced component going on. Whether its the dark fruit flavors  like plum, raisin and dried cherry you get in a Belgian dubbel or the citrus, orangy, peppery character coming from a Belgian tripel, all these flavors will do well with your sweet wings. Here are just a few that will work great:

  • Belgian Dubbel (Chimay Red, Affligem)
  • Belgian Tripel (Westmalle, Unibroue La Fin du Monde)
  • Belgian Dark Strong (Chimay Grande Reserve, Rochefort 8)
  • Belgian Golden Strong (Duvel, North Coast Pranqster)
  • Saison (Saison Dupont, Ommegang Hennepin)
  • Sour Ales (Rodenbach Grand Cru, New Belgium La Folie)
The best list of beers to pair with chicken wings, whether you want them to heat things up or cool things down | CaretoPair.com

Isn't that a lot of beer to choose from?! Holy Moly beer and chicken wings like each other. Bottom line: enjoy the two together and don't think too hard about the pairing...most beers are going to naturally work. Just know that hoppy beers will accentuate the spice in your wings and malty beer will cool the spice down. Happy Pairing!

Thirsty for More? Try Out These Beer Pairings:

Caesar Salad + Helles Lager

What Beer to Pair with Fish and Chips

Beef Carbonnade + Belgian Dubbel

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce and Rosé

this red pepper cream sauce over pan-seared chicken breasts goes perfectly with a dry rosé | CaretoPair.com

If you're in need of an easy weeknight meal (or a quick meal to make on the weekend while company is over), look no further. This roasted red pepper cream sauce over pan-seared chicken breasts is a great way to use fresh ingredients in a quick amount of time. Enjoy it alongside a cool glass of crisp, dry rosé.

It's about 100 degrees today and in between laying in the sun every 15 minutes to *try* to get my white skin a few shades darker, I find myself inspired to finally write again. FINALLY. Yes, unfortunately I've had a bad case of writer's block this week. Maybe I just needed some sun.

The truth is, I love this website, and I love to write. However, amidst all of my research across the internet on "how to grow your blog" I have gotten a bit bombarded with too much information, much with opposing ideas. Many articles tell you to be personal, others tell you to be on point at all times--only focus on the topic at hand. People don't necessarily care about how your day is going, they want to know how you can help them and want that information NOW.

roasted red pepper cream sauce over pan-seared chicken breasts + a rose wine pairing on CaretoPair.com

When I started this blog, I chose to be very specific. The purpose of this blog is to help readers find a wine or beer to pair with their meal, most of which I provide a recipe for. I love this website and I love to help people; however, focusing on wine and beer pairings and ONLY writing about them has me in a bit of a funk. So let's make this blog a little more personal. While still helping you out. I hope that sounds as good to you as it does to me :) :)

The Recipe

Today's recipe and wine pairing comes from a few weeks ago when I was inspired to roast red peppers...because they were on sale! I usually keep red peppers off my shopping list because, sorry, I'm not paying over a dollar a pepper just to add some color to my recipes. But when the Smith's grocery ad came in and I saw that they were under a dollar a piece, I couldn't resist. I pulled out all of my favorite recipes on pinterest with red peppers and went to work.

The result? A simple red pepper cream sauce over pounded chicken breasts (which were also on sale, yippee!). I combined a few ideas from other bloggers' creations and realized that red pepper, cream, and goat cheese would be a fantastic combination. This truly was an easy meal to make, and I feel so accomplished having finally roasted my own peppers. You can always substitute roasted red peppers from a jar, but if they're in season, go ahead and roast them yourself. It takes minimal effort and just a little bit of time.

roasted red pepper cream sauce over pan-seared chicken breasts + a rose wine pairing on CaretoPair.com

The Pairing

There's a few wines that will actually work with this chicken and red pepper cream sauce, but given the 100 degree temperatures today, I figured a crisp, dry rosé was the best choice. Spring and summer indeed are the seasons for rosé, but so many people get confused with what to pair this wine with. Does it go with food we usually pair with white wine? Yes. Does it pair with food we would have with red wine? Yes. In fact, rosé is one of the most versatile wines out there...it goes with many foods that other wines won't. Rosé drinks like a white while having subtle fresh red fruit flavors like strawberry and tart cherry, which goes with many different dishes. We've got lots of flavors going on in our roasted red pepper cream sauce--red peppers, spinach, garlic, cream...all of which the rosé can stand up to. Just make sure whichever rosé wine you choose is DRY, not sweet.

If you're not a fan of rosé, this dish could also pair with an unoaked chardonnay or dry riesling. In the beer department, try a light amber ale or craft Pilsner.

Chicken Closeup

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce and Rose

Author:

Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 red peppers (or 1 Cup of roasted red peppers)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1/2 Cup onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream (or more as needed)
  • 4 oz goat cheese

Instructions

  1. First, roast the red peppers: Preheat your oven broiler to high. Cut off a portion of the top so that the stem and membrane come out. Then cut each pepper in half and remove any remaining membrane (white part) or seeds. Place the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet skin-side up and place under the broiler for 10-15 minutes, until the skins have begun to char. Immediately place the peppers in a plastic bag for another 10 minutes which will help loosen the skins. When the peppers have cooled enough, remove the skins from them (which should peel off very easily) and chop the rest of the remaining parts. This can be done in advance, prior to dinnertime.
  2. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet and add chicken. Saute each side until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  3. Next, add more butter if needed and saute the chopped onion for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped red pepper and saute for an additional minute or so.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and add the spinach, heavy cream and goat cheese. Stir together until the goat cheese has completely melted, the spinach has wilted, and the other ingredients have become incorporated.
  5. Add the chicken back into the pan to heat through, then serve immediately. If you like your sauce extra saucy, feel free to add more cream as needed.

3.5.3208

Thirsty for more? Try out these recipes:

What Wine to Pair with Roast Chicken

Grilled Lamb and Fresh Peach Salsa Paired with Rose

The Oaxaca Old Fashioned

What Wine to Pair With Chicken Wings

Chicken wings usually go hand-in-hand with beer, but what if you are in the mood for a glass of wine? Today's chicken wing wine pairing will help you out when you want to go beyond wings and beer.

Today's pairing might be considered the ultimate challenge for wine, but I'm doing it anyway! Why is it such a challenge?

Because wings generally do NOT pair well with wine.

In chicken wings, its all about the sauce; and wing sauce is usually spicy or sweet. Spicy and sweet are flavors that are incredibly difficult to match up to wine. Spicy foods enhance the perception of alcohol and tannin in red wine, so forget drinking any reds with wing sauce that has any sort of kick to it (which is most of them). And generally you need a wine that is just as sweet, if not more sweet, than the food you're pairing it with. Since 90% of wines are dry out there, they won't go well with your sweet wing sauce.

What to Pair with Chicken Wings

So...we can't do any red wines or dry wines, so what are we left with? Sweet, white wine. (And you thought wings were manly.)

Men, put your egos away for 2 seconds and realize that sweet wine and hot, spicy chicken wings pair perfectly together. Sweetness in wine actually cools down the effects of spicy foods, so the two go hand-in-hand. My number one wine to pair with wings is off-dry Riesling. Off-dry means that it has a touch of sweetness but won't be too sweet or overwhelming like a dessert-sweet Riesling will be.

Look for a German Riesling that says "Kabinett" on the bottle. Do not buy anything that says "Trocken", as that is German for "dry" (which will taste terrible with our wings, as we pointed out earlier). If you are buying a domestic Riesling, take a look at the label and see if the level of sweetness is stated. Ideally you want something with a little sugar but not too crazy. Stay away from any bottle that says "Icewine" (it'll be way too sweet).

Dani's Recommendations for Commonly-Available Riesling:

  • Dr. Loosen "Estate Kabinett" Riesling (Mosel, Germnay)
  • Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Riesling (Mosel, Germany)
  • Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling (Washington)
  • Anew Riesling (Washington)
Chicken wings make a tough wine pairing, but some wines do work! Check out Dani's recommendation for pairing wine and spicy chicken wings together | CaretoPair.com

Other Libations that Work

There's a few other sweet wines out there that can be great with chicken wings. Just make sure the wine is actually sweet as some producers make "dry" styles. And dry wine with sweet and spicy chicken wings equals disaster! Try:

  • Gewurztraminer
  • Moscato
  • Sparkling wine made in the "Extra Dry" or "Demi-Sec" style. Learn More.

And then, of course, there's beer...who's bubbles will scrub away all the spice lingering in your mouth from those chicken wings. Beer really is a no-brainer with wings, so stay tuned for my next post which will highlight the best ones to pair it with.

Have fun feeling extra-fancy with your wine and chicken wings! To make your own wings at home, I really like this recipe from Living Lou.

Chicken Wings can be a tough dish for wine pairing, but there are some wines that work! Dani from Care to Pair lists out what your wine needs to have in order to pair with sweet or spicy chicken wings | CaretoPair.com

What Wine to Pair with Fried Chicken

Did you just pick up a bucket of chicken or heating up the deep fryer to make it at home? Instantly make fried chicken fancy by pairing it with some bubbly!

A few months ago my sister told me she was making her boyfriend his favorite home-cooked meal, fried chicken, and asked me what wine to pair with it. My first thought: what?! Who drinks wine with fried chicken? Then I thought: why not? On the rare occasion that I eat fried chicken, I'm pairing it with beer. But my sister was making it for a special occasion and wanted to serve it with wine, so okay! You want wine with your fried chicken? You got it! So thus, I bring you a post on pairing fried chicken and wine.

The Disaster

In an attempt to make all our meals at home these days without the dependence of pre-made food at the grocery store or fast-food restaurants, I decided to make fried chicken at home (which I had never done before). And when I say "I", I mean I completely pawned this one off on my husband. For those of you who make fried chicken at home...how do you do it?! For those of you looking to make this dish for the first time at home: proceed with caution.

This was by far the most intense, time-consuming, dish-dirtying, smoke-detector-going-off meal we've ever made. Between getting the oil to the right temperature and then keeping it at the right temperature, this took way longer than I had expected. I actually abandoned my husband after the first batch to go take pictures of the chicken and the poor guy was cursing every other word while getting splattered and burned with hot oil. Somehow he even managed to spill a bunch of oil down the front of the stove, to which the dog had a field day. It was one of those meals that you told yourself you'll never make again...until you try it. And then it all became clear. Best fried chicken I've ever had in my entire life. Now I know why the South makes such a big deal of it!

The Pairing

As you can clearly see in the pictures, I paired fried chicken with bubbly.

But what kind of bubbles, Dani??

So a big reason why beer goes well with anything fried is because the carbonation you get in beer will cut through fat. In case you didn't know, that fried goodness in fried chicken is alllll fat. So pairing a fried food with bubbly wine will do the same thing that beer does. Bonus: bubbly wine almost always has high acidity which will also cut through the fattiness in fried chicken.

The best sparkling wine to pair with fried chicken is one with a hint of sweetness. In the wine world, we would call this an "Extra Dry" style of sparkling wine. I know, confusing, right? Extra Dry denotes that there's a teeny tiny bit of sugar left in the bottle of bubbly, which will pair excellently with the juicy sweetness in the fried chicken.  You'll find bottles of Extra Dry almost anywhere sparkling wine is sold; in fact, you'll see it right on the label, so you'll know you're making the right purchase. All kinds of wine come in the Extra Dry style, including domestic sparkling wine, Cava, and Champagne. So whatever you decide to purchase will fit your budget no matter what that is.

**on that note: Cava is one of the best values of sparkling wine out there. You can find bottles as little as $8/btl. This is one of my favorite value wines if the occasion doesn't call for Champagne**

But I Don't Have Sparkling Wine at the House. What Else Goes with Fried Chicken?

I know we all don't just have cases of extra dry sparkling wine lying around the house. If you don't have access to any bubbles, fear not: Other pairings will work:

  • Chardonnay. One with some oak and butter will complement the sweetness of the chicken nicely.
  • Sauvignon Blanc. Most SB will have wonderfully high acidity that will cut nicely through the fatty fried bits.
  • Beer. Almost any kind, actually. My favorite beer style to pair with fried food is Extra Special Bitter (ESB). Check out this post to find out more.

At the end of the day, just drink what you like with fried chicken, whether that be sweet tea, soda, beer or wine. Although there are some rules when it comes to food pairings, rules are meant to be broken.

To make the same fried chicken recipe that I used (highly recommended, although intense and time-consuming), click here.

What Wine to Pair with Roast Chicken

Roasted Chicken is not as hard as you think. Put a glass of Pinot Noir alongside it and you've got yourself a meal!

Whether you purchased a rotisserie chicken at the store or are cooking one yourself, roast chicken is an easy dish to pair with wine. But which varietal really is best?! Read on to find out!

Roast Chicken is soooo easy to make. Why are people so afraid to cook it? Granted, purchasing a cooked rotisserie chicken at the store is very convenient, but it is much cheaper to just buy a raw chicken yourself and cook it at home. All you need is a few hours of oven time--believe it or not, this dish takes less time working in the kitchen than most of my other recipes! I've also noticed that you get much more meat for your money if you purchase a raw bird rather than a cooked rotisserie. Bonus!

But however which way you want to acquire your roasted chicken, the meal's not complete without a wine, right?!

Roasted Chicken is one of the easiest meals to make, honest! I don't know why people waste their money on overpriced rotisserie chickens when you can get much more meat with your money on a raw one

The Wine Pairing

I think the third or fourth post I made on this website was a beer pairing with roast chicken (don't mind the terrible pictures!). Although I love a good beer with my chicken, I have to admit that wine wins this battle. There's just something about the crispy, slightly greasy chicken skin complementing an acidic, earthy wine.

For any roasted chicken dish, find a good bottle of Pinot Noir to accompany it. This one is an easy pairing--any Pinot Noir should work as there are none I can think of that would overwhelm this chicken. Why does Pinot Noir work so well? Pinot is light, so it won't drown out the natural chicken flavors. The bright, red fruit dominating Pinot Noir's palate will trick your mind into thinking its a sweet sauce to complement the meat. If the wine has any earthiness (think potting soil, cedar, or herbaceous flavors), it will act like a natural seasoning for the crispy roasted chicken. Drool.

I'm a big fan of Oregon Pinot Noir myself, but really, any region will work with this dish. Whether you pick a fruit-bomb Pinot Noir or a cool-climate, restrained example, you won't be disappointed at its match with roasted chicken.

Dani's Regional Pinot Noir Picks for Roasted Chicken:

  • Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
  • Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
  • Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
  • Napa Valley Pinot Noir
  • New Zealand Pinot Noir
What Wine Should You Pair with Roasted Chicken? A light, fruity Pinot Noir!

The Recipe

There are lots of recipes out there on how to roast a chicken, but I like to keep it simple. This recipe just uses a few lemons, salt and pepper to bring out the natural flavors of the chicken. Don't forget to use the leftover bones and meat to make your own chicken broth!

Easy Roast Chicken with Lemons

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins

Total time: 1 hour 40 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 3-5 pound chicken
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 lemons

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water. Let it sit for a few minutes at an angle to drain the excess water, then pat dry with paper towels (also inside and out).
  3. Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and pepper, inside and out. Use your fingers to rub the seasonings into the skin.
  4. Roll each lemon with a bit of pressure onto a countertop to soften them up. With a fork, prick each lemon all around to expose the inside juice.
  5. Place the lemons inside the bird's cavity.
  6. With kitchen string, tie the legs together; not too tight, just to hold them in place close to the rest of the bird.
  7. Put the chicken into a roasting pan, breast facing down. No need to add any oil or additional cooking liquid. Place it into the upper third of the preheated oven.
  8. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over carefully so that the breast faces up. Cook for another 30-35 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat of the oven up to 300 degrees and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Total, the chicken should cook about 20-25 minutes per pound (so a 4 pound chicken would cook for about 80 minutes).
  10. When the chicken is finished, remove from the oven and carve. No need to remove the lemons from the cavity. Use any juices in the pan to serve over the meat.

 

Other Chicken Recipes and Pinot Noir Pairings

What Wine to Pair with Lemon Chicken and Other Chicken Recipes
What Wine to Pair with Lemon Chicken and Other Chicken Recipes
What Wine to Pair with Cedar Plank Salmon
What Wine to Pair with Cedar Plank Salmon
What Wine to Pair with Beef Bourguignon
What Wine to Pair with Beef Bourguignon

What Wine to Pair with Chinese Take-Out

My first time having "real" Chinese food was when I was a senior in high school. My friends took me to Panda Express. I know that this far from authentic Chinese fare, but it was the first Asian-inspired sensory experience my taste buds had ever gotten, and I was immediately in love.

Fast forward two years of living on a college campus and having Panda Express almost every day of my life, I had about enough of it. You know when you eat too much of something (you used to love) that you can't stand the thought of having any more? That happened with this chain. But I still love take-out. There's just something about all those sweet, sour, and salty flavors melding into one delicious meal.

The Pairing

So today I'm pairing take-out Chinese with wine. Don't get this mixed up with authentic Chinese cuisine, now. The two are very different. This post is for the sweet, fried, greasy take-out Chinese our taste buds love (even if our health does not). It can also be for homemade Chinese-take-out inspired dishes, like the ones I made for this post.

And the winning wine for this meal is....Riesling! Most wines clash with sweet and spicy flavors such as the ones we get in Chinese take-out. But an off-dry or medium-sweet Riesling is its best friend. Not only does the sweetness of Riesling match the sweetness of the food, it also calms the spice down from any sort of kung-pow chicken or hot and sour soup you may be including. I think what we love about Chinese take-out is all of the different flavors and textures we can have in one meal. Chinese food definitely is not boring. Riesling won't fight with the myriad of flavors; instead, it will cleanse your palette between each bite of deliciousness (and make you feel totally fancy).

When buying a Riesling to pair with your Chinese Take-Out, search for one that is off-dry to medium sweet. Look for "Qba", "Kabinett", or "Spatlese" on the label. Stay away from "late-harvest" or dessert-style Riesling (if it says beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese, or ice wine, it will be way too sweet for the meal). Do not drink dry Rieslings with Chinese food, either.

The Recipes

I'm totally cool with you ordering take out, sitting down in front of the TV with your honey and enjoying a bottle of Riesling. In fact, its possibly the best way to make your take-out fancy on a Friday night date-night in. But if you're in the mood to cook for a little bit, making your own Chinese take-out inspired meal will be amazing and very rewarding. For my spread, I made baked cream cheese wontons, beef and broccoli, orange chicken, hot and sour soup, and a side of white rice. The meal took me over an hour to make but it was soooooo delicious. I'm not sure Andrew and I will be ordering take out anymore...unless we are feeling lazy, of course. I'm telling you, cooking your own take-out inspired Chinese food at home is much more delicious than ordering out.

The Recipes we used:

Happy Pairing!

Pumpkin Ale Pairing: Brown Sugar Chicken Thighs with Apples

It's pumpkin ale season!! Are you as excited as I am? I think pumpkin ales come and go too quickly every autumn. They get released in August when it seems way too hot to even think about the changing of the seasons. I usually begin craving them sometime in September, but this year summer still stuck around too long. And then last week October 1st hit. The temperature dropped and the rains came. I'm currently wearing sweaters and slippers. Pumpkin ale season has finally arrived.

Fall is my absolute favorite time for beers because both Oktoberfest and Pumpkin ales are released. Even better, there are two types out there for us to choose from. There are the sweeter, spiced ones that taste like you're eating a piece of pumpkin pie, and then the ones that are just... PUMPKIN. I like them both, of course, because anything pumpkin is a winner in my book.

The Pairing

Right off the bat it can seem overwhelming to pair pumpkin ale with a meal. Sure, we like to drink them, but do they actually pair well with food? The answer, my friend, is YES.

For this brown sugar chicken thigh recipe I made, I chose the new pumpkin ale Alaskan Brewing just released. In previous seasons they made a pumpkin porter, but this year they lightened it up into a brown ale. The beer has some of the cinnamon and nutmeg flavors we all love in pumpkin ale, but its definitely more of a PUMPKIN beer than a sweet dessert beer. If you're not a fan of tasting super sweet pumpkin pie and want more of a "beer" flavor in general, then this ale is for you. How does it pair? The slight sweetness from the pumpkin spice complements the brown sugar in the chicken thighs, but isn't too sweet to overwhelm it. Since it is a style of brown ale, the caramelized and toasty malt really plays on the charred, roasted skin on the chicken. And the slight sweetness coming from the apples ties it all together. Is your stomach grumbling yet?

Other Beers That Work

If you're reading this and pumpkin beer isn't in season, fear not--other beers will work. Pick a beer with those caramelized, toasty flavors, like a brown or amber ale. You could even go as dark as a porter, but be careful: if the beer is too roasty or burnt (like stout), it will overwhelm this dish. Also, stay away from hoppy beers like IPA or pale ale that will be too fruity and bitter.

The Recipe

I've got to make a shout-out to Chung Ah over at damndelicious.net for providing the original recipe for this dish. It is amazing what a little brown sugar and butter can do to a seemingly boring weeknight chicken dish. Feel free to make this with any cut of chicken, but bone-in chicken thighs are particularly juicy (and budget-friendly). To make this an autumn-appropriate meal, I added thinly sliced apples to give it that hint of sweetness. It really was a match made in heaven with the Alaskan Pumpkin Ale. Serve with mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts for a complete meal!


Brown Sugar Roasted Chicken with Apples

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 45 mins

Serves: 4

Original recipe adapted from damndelicious.net

Ingredients

  • 4 large bone-in chicken thighs
  • 3 Tbsp butter, devided
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In an oven-proof skillet, melt 2 Tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Sear until golden brown for about 2-3 minutes. Flip chicken over and sear other side the same.
  3. Set the chicken aside when both sides are golden brown. In the same skillet, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter and add the garlic, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the brown sugar, honey, oregano, thyme, and basil. Place the chicken back in the skillet, skin side up, then place in the oven.
  5. After 20 minutes of cook time, remove the skillet from the oven. Place the sliced apple into the sauce of the skillet and stir. Return the skillet to the oven and cook for an additional 15-20, or until the chicken juices run clear when cut into.

Happy Pairing!

Camping Edition: Whiskey BBQ Chicken and Coleslaw Beer Pairing

Warning! This post is filled with camping fun that may make you want to grab your tent and head to the woods to enjoy a delicious campfire dinner.

Andrew and I went camping last weekend for the first time since moving to northern Nevada. Ahhhhh nature how I've missed you! Camping is one of my favorite ways to relax and wind down...and usually to hang out with friends. But this time, for the first time since we started dating, it was just me, Andrew, and the dog...

This camping trip was different though because my love of cooking meal planning is starting to get out of hand. Gone are the camping days of hot dogs and beans and boring sack lunches. This time I researched and planned every meal in advance. On top of that, my sister bought my husband The Great Outdoors Cookbook by Sunset Magazine and the pictures in this book  have had me itching to get out to nature and cook over a fire. And by that I mean have Andrew do all the work of getting the fire going.

I'm quickly realizing that the key to eating well on camping trips really is preparation, which is such a win-win now that I've come to terms with my obsession of meal planning. I knew we wouldn't be getting into camp until the sun went down the first night so I prepared marinated steak kabobs that we could just throw on the grill while setting up. Then for the next night's meal, Whiskey BBQ Sauce Grilled Chicken, I made the barbecue sauce and chopped all the vegetables for the coleslaw the day before we even left on the camping trip. This way, minimal dishes were made dirty while camping (amen!) and we didn't have to work too hard to get our dinner on the table--all we had to do was cook the chicken and glaze it!

Kudos to Andrew by the way for starting our campfire without matches! (intentionally)

The Pairing

Okay, I have to admit that drinking good beer and pairing with food on camping trips is not on the top of my priority list. In fact, camping is one of those situations where I fully believe in "time and a place for every beer" and look forward to drinking PBR, High Life, Olympia, Hamms, or Ice House (yeah, I went there). Not to say you can't be drinking good beer on a camping trip by any means...its just when you're drinking beer all day like we do on camping trips, the lightest beer in weight and flavor work better in our bellies than heavier craft beers.

However, pack a few of the good ones to treat yourself at dinnertime. Especially with the dish I'm featuring on this blog post: whiskey barbecue glaze served with homemade coleslaw. The chicken has a decent amount of sweetness from the barbecue sauce so a beer with balanced malt (nothing too hoppy) will work well. There's also a good amount of char on that chicken so a beer with slightly roasted qualities is ideal to match that char.  These beers are my top picks in descending order:

  • Brown Ale (think Brooklyn Brown, Lost Coast Downtown Brown, etc)
  • Amber/Red Ale
  • Vienna Lager
  • English Pale Ale/ESB
  • American Pale Ale
  • Kolsch
  • Pilsner

The Recipe

This dinner was possibly the best I've ever had while camping. But I'm not taking credit for it, we indeed used one of the recipes in The Great Outdoors Cookbook my sister gave us. You do the majority of the prep work at home so putting it together at the campsite is a cinch! Just make sure to keep the sauce and the veggies for the coleslaw separated until only a few minutes before you eat it. I can tell why the recipe said to do that; the veggies soaked up the sauce pretty quickly and could be mushy and gross if you let it sit too long before eating.

I hope you enjoy this recipe next time you go camping! I found a digital version of this recipe so click here for the directions. I'm looking forward to finding more camping recipes to pair with beer or wine for our next camping trip!

Happy Camping and Pairing!

What Wine to Pair with Lemon Chicken

What Wine to Pair With Lemon Chicken | CaretoPair.com

This is one of my most favorite, easy, and low-cost pairings to suggest to friends. And I don't know if its just me, but lately I've been finding a ton of lemon chicken dishes on pinterest. And I've pinned them all...why wouldn't I? Most recipes are usually quick and easy--add a squeeze of lemon to whatever you're making--and voila! Done! And lemons are accessible, chicken is cheap, so lemon+chicken recipes make for great weeknight dinners I've been seeming to make a lot lately.

The Pairing

Pair Chardonnay with any lemon chicken dish, my friends. Chardonnay is my go-to for anything lemon-flavored, actually.  Why? Because one of the top flavor and aroma descriptors us wine geeks use to describe Chardonnay is lemon. Unless a Chardonnay has been completely over-oaked (meaning it has gone through malolactic fermentation and sat in a barrel made of brand new oak for a long long time), it should have citrus/lemon flavors and aromas present. The good news is that most wine producers have gotten away from the big, buttery, oaky chardonnays we all love to hate, so if you are trying a new chardonnay, it more than likely will go with this dish.

Now for your wine pairing lesson of the day...so I don't want to get too nerdy here, but the technical reason why chardonnay goes so well with lemon dishes is because it has high acidity, just like lemons. Just what is acidity? If you suck on a lemon (which I don't suggest actually doing), the sourness you feel in the side of your mouth that makes your mouth water is acidity. Some foods are really high in acid, others not. But regardless, food and wine with high acidity make your taste buds salivate, so the two pair really well together.

Now, there are other grapes that have high acidity that could also potentially go well with this dish (see below under "Pairing Suggestions"), but none quite have the body like chardonnay to stand up to a chicken dish that might be a bit heavier. Body is equivalent to the weight of the wine--chardonnays are usually medium to full-bodied, so they are the absolute best match.

Pair Chardonnay with your favorite lemon chicken dish. Details inside! | CaretoPair.com

Pairing Suggestions

  • Chardonnay
    • Californian (just stay away from big oaky, buttery examples like Rombauer. Try something from Sonoma Coast to be safe)
    • Oregon--some incredible chardonnays are coming out of Willamette Valley right now, like Domaine Drouhin's "Arthur" chardonnay
    • White Burgundy
    • Chablis--this unoaked example of chardonnay will give you the highest acidity, best for super lemony dishes!
    • Sauvignon Blanc
      • best with a grilled lemon chicken dish, not this one I used for this blog post
      • Riesling
        • if you want to go down this route, make sure you're picking a completely dry example of riesling, nothing sweet
        • Beer
          • Saison
          • Belgian Wit
          • German Hefeweizen
          • American Lager
What Wines and Beers to pair with Lemon Chicken | CaretoPair.com

My Favorite Lemon Chicken Recipes

Here are a few of my favorite lemon chicken recipes:

Slow-Cooker Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken via No. 2 Pencil

Baked Honey Lemon Chicken via the Cooking Jar (recipe used for the pictures in this post)

Lemon Butter Chicken via Damn Delicious

One Pot Greek Chicken and Lemon Rice via Recipe Tin Eats

Hawaiian Chicken and Gewurztraminer

This weekend, I cooked up some good stuff. I was a little behind on blogging (thank you sprained knee for making me immobile for 2 weeks), so I made this last Saturday a "designated blog day" (of "DBD", as my friend called it) and literally cooked 4 blog-post worthy dishes. Yes, my knee is suffering now, but it was so worth it. It was a perfect way to get my blog organized, take my time cooking, take plenty of pictures, and then share it all with a few close friends. I hope to have many of these DBD's in the future as sharing good food with friends and family is why I do all this in the first place. And now I'm 4 blog-posts ahead of my schedule!

I have been on a Hawaiian Mac Salad kick lately. I feel like that's a weird craving, but makes sense since we're into the full swing of hot days and bbq's. This weekend I wanted to make Hawaiian Chicken to go with all this Mac Salad I've been making (another post with the Mac Salad recipe will be posted next!). I was a little nervous on what to pair with them since they are so sweet, but my last-minute decision to try Gewurztraminer turned out to be amazing!

The Pairing

Hawaiian Chicken is chock full of different flavors--it has pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, garlic, onion...lots of things going on. The end result is a slightly sweet, slightly salty, crowd-pleasing flavor. Here's the bad news though...sweet foods are a little difficult to pair with wine. Its not that they don't pair with anything, that's never true...but there aren't 100 options like in other dishes out there. The general rule when pairing wine with sweet foods is to match the sweetness of the wine with the sweetness of the dish, while being careful not to overpower it.

Gewurztraminer (geh-verts-trah-meen-er...fun to say, isn't it?) is generally a fruity, slightly sweet white wine. If you look at my blog pictures, you can see a few bubbles in that glass--its not uncommon to see a gewurztraminer with a little spritz in it. This wine went incredible with the meal. It matched the sweetness of the chicken and equally complemented the mac salad. I think my guests were equally happy: who doesn't like a light, spritzy, slightly sweet wine on a hot summer evening?

A little info on Gewurztraminer since its not the most popular grape--it is most famous from Germany, but also grown in France, Australia, Italy, and the USA. Wine produced from it is incredibly aromatic and sometimes "spicy". Typical flavors associated with the grape are tropical fruit, lychee, and floral. Its a great wine to try if you aren't the biggest wine drinker to begin with or are just discovering wine.

The bottle I picked up for this post was Fetzer Gewurztraminer...a whopping $6.99 bottle...that did the job just fine. Fetzer is a big producer of wines in California. I've always been a fan of this winery as its decent quality and a great price, and if you can't make it to the liquor store, you can usually find this bottle while shopping at your local grocer...win win! Since gewurztraminer is a sweeter wine, you really don't need to break the bank on a bottle...unless you want to, of course.

Other Great pairings with this dish

  • Fruity beer, especially Maui Brewing Company's Mana Wheat (tested with this recipe and delicious!)
  • Wheat beers
  • Riesling
  • Moscato

Stay away from tannic red wine or hoppy beers--they will conflict with the dish's sweetness

Recipe adapted from veryculinary.com


Hawaiian Chicken Thighs

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 25 mins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 C soy sauce
  • 3/4 C pineapple juice (I used the juice from a can of crushed pineapple)
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C chopped onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, onion, garlic, and ginger. Add chicken, Make sure all, or as much of it as possible, is submerged.
  2. Place in fridge for at least 4 hours. The longer this marinades, the better.
  3. Preheat outdoor grill. Grill chicken on each side for about 7-10 minutes, depending on how thick the thighs are (just keep an eye out for it). Mine took about 10-12 minutes a side.
  4. Serve and enjoy with Gewurztraminer!

 

Roasted Chicken paired with English Pale Ale

Today I went grocery shopping. Not one of those fun grocery adventures, but one that you cringe while checking out, seeing that your bill is over $100 and there's still a pile of stuff on the conveyer belt...

Luckily, we rarely spend this much money on groceries. As I looked at my receipt as I was walking to my car, almost everything I had bought was under $2...except for that $15 pack of pork chops and $10 thing of ribs. Okay, I'll spend my money on meat, that's okay :)

Everything I buy at the grocery store is in its raw form--fruits, veggies, meat...except for the 3 boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese I just need for those lazy nights and sliced bread (who has time to make bread?!) But it always depresses me seeing people buying frozen dinners, boxed rice-pilafs, even pre-seasoned frozen veggies...it would be a lot cheaper if these people took the time to learn how to make these things from scratch! Maybe its laziness, maybe its time, but its probably more of a reason that people just don't know how to cook, and were never taught how. I'm one of these people, who only 6 years ago though that something as simple as roasting a chicken would be hours of preparation and a day slaving away in the kitchen.

I couldn't have been more wrong, as I now obviously know that roasting a chicken is one of the easiest dinners you can make! You literally just put together a herb blend, rub it on the chicken, and throw it in the oven! And after everyone has enjoyed their dinner, you usually have some leftovers for another night and a carcass to make homemade chicken stock, which is also super easy! You get so much more for your money with a whole chicken than wasting your time with boneless, skinless chicken breasts...I wish I could break my habit :)

The Pairing

Roasted Chicken goes with so many beers, it was truly hard to pick one. I chose Alaskan ESB (Extra Special Bitter), a seasonal beer from Alaskan Brewing Company. I love beers from this brewery, their smoked porter is to DIE FOR. This example is a bit hoppy for a traditional English ESB, but a great American-Craft interpretation.

ESBs (Extra Special Bitter) is literally the same thing as English Pale Ales--I could get confusing and tell you the different levels of English bitters, but just trust me in knowing this is the same style of beer as if you picked out a Pale Ale from an English brewery. ESBs are nice and malty (caramelly, biscuity) which pair perfectly with roasted chicken. Mmmm I want them together again right now! Anyway, the nice caramelization you get on the skin of the roasted chicken is going to line up with the caramel in the beer--a match made in heaven. The carbonation is going to cut right through the crackling fattiness of the skin and will make each bite as exciting as the first. Are you getting thirsty yet? :)

DO NOT use an American Pale Ale or any IPA in this pairing--it will be too hoppy. Of course, do what you please, but I say with this dish, keep it English.

Other fun English Pale Ales/ESBs to pair this with:

  • Old Speckled Hen
  • Fullers ESB
  • Bass Ale
  • Anderson Valley Boont ESB
  • Redhook ESB

Not a Beer Drinker? These are Your Wine Options:

  • Oregon Pinot Noir
  • Red Burgundy
  • California Chardonnay
  • Beaujolais

Recipe Adapted from thehungryhousewife.com


Roasted Chicken paired with English Pale Ale

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 10 mins

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • One 3-4 lb whole chicken (use however large of a bird you want, just adjust cooking time)
  • 1/2 Cup softened butter
  • 2 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Optional--a day ahead, rinse and dry the chicken and place it on a rack on a 9x13 roasting pan. This helps dry the skin out so it becomes nice and crispy.
  2. If you don't have time to wait to cook, rinse and dry the chicken with some paper towels before proceeding
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  4. Mix butter, oil, herbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl
  5. Spread the butter mixture all over the bird, top and bottom, legs and cavity
  6. With your fingers, reach under the skin of the chicken to separate from the meat. Spread the butter in this area too, as deep as you can reach (without breaking off the skin!)
  7. Place chicken back on the rack of the 9x13 pan and roast in the oven until juices run clear when pierced between breast and leg. Depending on the weight of the chicken, this is about and hour to an hour and a half (keep an eye on it after 45 minutes...when the skin is looking nice and crispy, it is close to being done).
  8. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving