The Thanksgiving meal allows for tradition—in the form of roasted turkey with gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes—as well as innovation, in the form of sous-vide turkey, turkey banh mi and stuffing salad, and fresh new vegetable sides dishes featuring beets, cauliflower, Jerusalem artichokes and kale, which bring new flavors and textures to the table.
Mario Batali is a chef whose approach to cooking deliciously dovetails tradition and innovation. In his latest book, America Farm to Table, Batali applies his exuberant Italian culinary sensibility to ingredients produced by outstanding American farmers from across the country. Batali has shared two recipes from the book, for dishes that would be right at home on the Thanksgiving table, and we've provided a list of recently rated American Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels whose fruit and spice make them good matches for the spectrum of flavors that awaits your Thanksgiving guests.
Carrots with Cumin, Honey and Ancho Chiles
Recipes from America Farm to Table by Mario Batali and Jim Webster. Used with permission by Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
"This dish started as a side dish for Thanksgiving, but now I often serve it as a simple lunch or light supper with a bitter salad and a piece of ripe taleggio," says Batali. "These carrots are excellent either warm out of the pan or at room temperature."
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 12 medium carrots
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 ancho chile, chopped, with seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1. Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a pasta pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the carrots and boil until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch sauté pan, combine the vinegar, chile, garlic, oil, honey, cumin and salt to taste, and heat over low to medium-low heat.
3. Drain the carrots and, while still warm, transfer them to the pan with the honey mixture. Toss to coat and cook until the vinegar has evaporated and the carrots become sticky and shiny. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.
Braised Leeks with Corn and Chipotle Vinaigrette
Braised leeks are tender, creamy and sweet; leaving the root intact helps keep the leek together while it cooks.
For the leeks:
- 6 leeks
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/2 cup
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup sliced shallots
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Trim the roots off the leeks, leaving the root end intact. Trim the tops on an angle, leaving 2 inches of green. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise (the root holds the leeks together while cooking). Clean very well in water to remove any sand or grit.
2. In a 15-inch sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Lay the leeks in the pan, cut side down, without crowding them. Add the wine, butter, thyme, garlic, shallots and 1 1/2 cups water. Season with a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Put a lid on the pan and gently cook for 30 minutes, or until fork-tender.
For the vinaigrette and to finish the dish:
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (4 ears)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chipotle flakes
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 scallions, minced
1. Place the corn in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt, and set over medium heat. Bring to a steamy simmer and cook for 4 minutes, then drain and allow to cool. (You could also put the corn, just covered with water, in a glass bowl and microwave for 90 seconds.)
2. Combine the corn, mustard, chipotle and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in the olive oil. The vinaigrette should not be creamy and emulsified; it should look broken with rivulets.
3. Transfer the leeks to a side towel to drain a bit, then place them on a platter. Stir the scallions into the vinaigrette and spoon the vinaigrette over the leeks. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.
RECOMMENDED AMERICAN PINOT NOIRS AND ZINFANDELS
Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.
BELLE GLOS Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley Clark & Telephone 2012 Score: 92 | $44
A rich, gutsy, extracted style, with a compelling mix of power and finesse, offering explosive dark berry, floral, spice and espresso notes that are full-bodied and persistent. Drink now through 2022. 4,757 cases made. —J.L.
CHERRY PIE Pinot Noir Sonoma-Monterey-Santa Barbara Counties Cherry Tart 2012 Score: 90 | $25
Rich and approachable, driven by layers of blackberry, wild berry, cherry and plum flavors. Well-proportioned, this maintains a fruity profile amid firm tannins. Drink now through 2022. 14,000 cases made. —J.L.
DRY CREEK Zinfandel Sonoma County Heritage Vines 2012 Score: 90 | $20
Raspberry and grilled herb aromas combine with well-focused flavors of black cherry, sweet anise and pepper. A zesty Zin that packs in a lot of flavor at a great price. Drink now through 2018. 16,054 cases made. —T.F.
ELK COVE Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012 Score: 90 | $29
Fresh and vibrant, showing polish to its currant and blackberry flavors. Finishes with density and finesse. Drink now through 2020. 17,300 cases made. —H.S.
PALI WINE CO. Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County Huntington 2012 Score: 90 | $23
Notably floral and spicy, with firm tannins amid the dark berry, mocha, roasted herb and fresh-turned earth flavors. This is complex, dense and persistent, gaining depth and length. Drink now through 2022. 9,218 cases made. —J.L.
SEGHESIO Zinfandel Sonoma County Sonoma 2012 Score: 90 | $24
Jammed with zesty fruit, offering bold blackberry and licorice aromas and rich, well-structured black cherry, smoky pepper and grilled anise flavors. Drink now through 2019. 100,000 cases made. —T.F.
ACACIA Pinot Noir Carneros 2012 Score: 88 | $24
An open, direct wine, with ripe, snappy plum and raspberry flavors, offering graphite-laced tannins and a clean, fresh finish. Drink now through 2020. 44,000 cases made. —J.L.
DECOY Zinfandel Sonoma County 2012 Score: 88 | $25
A zesty Zinfandel, with black cherry and smoky pepper aromas and appealing flavors of plum and anise. Drink now through 2017. 13,731 cases made. —T.F.
FOUR VINES Zinfandel Paso Robles Biker 2011 Score: 88 | $19
A zesty red, modest in scale, with enough black cherry, spice and toasted herb flavors to stay interesting. Drink now through 2018. 7,000 cases made. —T.F.
HESS Select Pinot Noir Central Coast 2012 Score: 88 | $20
A taut mix of red and dark berry, creamy oak, spice and fresh-turned earth flavors, this features a texture that goes from supple to firm on the finish. Drink now through 2020. 9,900 cases made. —J.L.
KLINKER BRICK Zinfandel Lodi Old Vine 2012 Score: 88 | $19
Dusty raspberry and spice aromas pair with ripe flavors of dried cherry, black licorice and jerky. Drink now through 2018. 37,000 cases made. —T.F.
FOUR VINES Zinfandel California Truant Old Vine 2011 Score: 87 | $12
A zesty little Zin, with just enough dried cherry, plum, toasty herb and spice flavors to keep this fun and interesting. Drink now through 2018. 30,000 cases made. —T.F.