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A Wine Family Dinner

Food is central to the winemaking Hatchers of Willamette Valley

Harvey Steiman
Posted: July 19, 2004

Charred peppers, potatoes and broccoli accompany an Asian-marinated beef tenderloin, topped with a dollop of wasabi sour cream.
Recipes:
Tuscan-Marinated Squid
Baccalà Spread
Polenta With Mascarpone and White Truffles
Asian-Marinated Beef Tenderloin
Meyer Lemon Soufflés
Alternate Wine Suggestions
See also:
Wine Spectator Menus
More than 150 wine-friendly recipes, including recommended wine matches

When Bill Hatcher was general manager of Domaine Drouhin, the Burgundy family's high-profile Oregon estate, he had a lavish châteaulike building at his disposal for wining and dining visiting VIPs. But he preferred, whenever possible, to cook dinner at his home, about a mile down Archery Summit Road. Nothing lavish, mind you. The best food for Oregon's subtle Pinot Noirs, he believes, is the least complicated.

So when Bill left Drouhin in 2001 after 14 years and started his own wine company with his wife, Deb, not much changed on the entertaining front. They still like to cook dinner for visitors. Appropriately enough for a family that made its home in a large tepee while building a house in a clearing surrounded by Oregon's signature pines and firs, the Hatchers prefer relatively simple, almost improvised dishes.

"I know my limitations," Bill laughs.

It's a spontaneous approach that gives the Hatchers the flexibility to turn any evening into a dinner party. "We don't do parties," Deb says. "We do dinner. There are people here all the time."

They both learned to cook seriously when they were students at the University of Michigan in the 1970s. One of Deb's art professors, Vince Castagnacci, became their food and culture guru. "He kind of took us under his wing," Bill recalls. "We spent a lot of evenings standing at the stove with him while he cooked this simple, wonderful Italian food. Our inclination is to keep it simple, as much because of his style as our fear of screwing up more complex dishes."

In planning this menu, Bill wanted to show off wines from his new family venture, Hatcher, and two enterprises involving friends Sam Tannahill and Cheryl Francis, husband-and-wife winemakers. A to Z Wineworks, a partnership of the Hatchers, Sam and Cheryl, is a négociant label. A to Z and Hatcher made their first wines in 2002. Francis Tannahill is Cheryl and Sam's own label, started in 2001.

Hatcher Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2002 (90, $33) is silky in texture, with pure raspberry and cherry flavors. Francis Tannahill Pinot Noir Willamette Valley The Hermit 2002 (NR, $33) is tangier, with crisp tannins and a bay leaf note mixing with the cherry character. The difference in styles is dramatic. "I prefer to make wines that strive for elegance over power," Bill says. "I want the wine to be like the girl next door. The more you get to know her, the prettier she looks." Sam, on the other hand, goes for more extract and the wine needs cellaring to soften with age.

To go with those wines, the Hatchers splurged on an organic beef tenderloin roast. "There's this shibboleth here in Oregon that you have to drink Pinot Noir with lamb or salmon," Bill notes. "We thought this would be a great opportunity to show that Pinot Noir is really good with beef."

Bill admits that he likes the lighter, more elegant Pinots with salmon and, "when it goes to the other end of the spectrum, bordering on Syrah, then lamb is good. But so is beef. Ultimately, everything we eat usually winds up being paired with Pinot Noir from somewhere since it represents four of five bottles we drink."

They knew what wines they wanted to pour for this dinner, but did not devise a menu in advance. They never do. They decide what to cook at the market.

"We really are poor planners," Deb says. "I don't know what I'm going to eat for dinner until I go to the market. We'll see something and it might remind us of a dish we haven't had in a long time, so we decide to include it."

"One day, the fish guy has grouper and we recall our year living in Florida," Bill says. "Sometimes we come across rabbit and then hope that the kids don't see a bunny in the yard in the succeeding days. Deb harvests truffles roosting under our fir trees, but won't tell me where they are or how to get them. Maybe the first greens are ready in the garden or the Copper River salmon is in."

"But it's all simple stuff."

To complete this meal, the Hatchers drew from their Italian arsenal for an assortment of antipasti to have with two lively, fragrant white wines. A to Z Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2002 (87, $11) is light, bright and fruity. Francis Tannahill Gewürztraminer Washington Dragonfly 2002 (NR, $19) has a bit of sweetness to balance the classic rose petal and grapefruit character. Both wines responded favorably to squid marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, to Italian tuna packed in oil and dressed with a few rinsed capers, and to cannellini drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. A baccalà spread made the Gewürz-traminer feel particularly unctuous.

The Italian theme continued with the next course, polenta cooked in a beef broth, ladled over a spoonful of creamy mascarpone and topped with shavings of Oregon white truffles. When Deb found no truffles in the yard, she phoned her friend Jack Czarnecki, the mushroom maven who owns the Joel Palmer House Restaurant in nearby Dayton, who supplied a few. The wine was Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Waipara 1993 (NR, $NA), which Cheryl had acquired when she worked at the New Zealand winery in 1994 and 1995. Still ripe and open-textured, it featured exotic aromas of dried spices and became even silkier with the polenta.

The beef tenderloin, marinated in sparkling wine-a blanc de noirs made entirely from Pinot Noir, of course-brought out the best in both featured Pinot Noirs. The Asian flavors in the beef marinade added only subtle grace notes to the meaty character.

Any fears that the meat would be too heavy for the wines were dispelled when they flashed even more fruit character than when tasted alone.

To accompany the meat, Deb drizzled olive oil and sprinkled salt over a panful of small yellow, orange and red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise, and put them under the broiler just until they started to blacken around the edges. They came out plump and sweet. Teenage daughter Hadley mixed wasabi powder with sour cream to make a sauce reminiscent of horseradish, which did wonders for both the meat and the broccoli, simply boiled in salted water.

After a green salad sparked with salty sea beans, dessert was chilled Meyer lemon soufflés. Already prepared, they just needed to be removed from the refrigerator and garnished with a mint leaf. To drink with dessert, Sam opened a bottle of his Gewürztraminer Washington Passito 2001 (NR, $23/375ml), a sweet wine made using an Italian technique of drying the grapes to intensify their sweetness and flavor before fermentation. The wine has its own richness and spice to go with the dessert's lemon flavors.

Because this is a pretty straightforward menu, it doesn't require much planning. The antipasti and the dessert can and should be done ahead, even the day before. The rest can be made on the fly, a perfect example of Oregon's unflappable style.

Hatcher and A to Z Wineworks
P.O. Box 489, Dundee, OR 97115
Telephone (503) 864-4489
Web site www.hatcherwineworks.com

Recipes:

Tuscan-Marinated Squid

1 pound whole squid, cleaned
2 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Salt, white pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Cut the squid bodies crosswise into rings (about 1/3 inch). Cut the tentacles in half and the fins into strips. Bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Drop the squid into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium and let them cook uncovered until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain well.

In a medium bowl, mix the olive oil and lemon juice. Add the warm squid to mixture and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it for 12 to 24 hours, stirring the squid occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients, cover the bowl and let stand 1 hour, outside the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature in the marinade. Use lemon slices or wedges for garnish. Serves 4 to 6.

Baccalà Spread

1 pound boneless salt cod
Water for poaching
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil, up to 1 cup
Heavy whipping cream, up to 1/2 cup
Freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1/4 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
Parsley sprigs for garnish
French or Italian bread

Soak the salt cod in water overnight. Rinse, drain and place it in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Poach the cod for 15 minutes.

Drain the cod and put it in a food processor. Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Process, scraping the sides, to make a smooth puree. With the processor running, drizzle olive oil through the feed tube, alternating with heavy cream. Amounts will vary but the end result should be light, smooth and creamy. Use about twice as much oil as cream.

Mix in the pepper and lemon juice to taste. It may need salt, but not likely. This can be made a day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated. Garnish with parsley and serve at room temperature with thinly sliced and toasted French or Italian bread. Makes about 2 cups.

Polenta With Mascarpone and White Oregon Truffles

4 cups boiling beef broth or water
1 cup coarse polenta
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon butter
6 tablespoons mascarpone
Fresh truffles (optional)

Add the polenta to the boiling water or broth in a slow, steady stream, whisking until thickened. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue stirring as the polenta cooks. It will take 20 to 45 minutes to cook, and should be very thick and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Rub six pasta dishes with butter and put a tablespoon of fresh mascarpone into each one. Serve the hot polenta on top of the cheese. Shave fresh truffles on top, if you have them. Serves 6.

Asian-Marinated Beef Tenderloin

3 to 4 pounds organic beef tenderloin, trimmed
2 cups sparkling blanc de noirs
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tamari
2 to 3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
Juice of 1 blood orange
2 stalks of lemongrass, cut like a broom to expose more surface
1 to 2 tablespoons golden syrup, or light corn syrup
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the liquids, garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Refrigerate and marinate the tenderloin in this mixture for 3 to 4 hours.
Prepare the grill, arranging hot coals on one side only. Drain off the marinade and pat the beef dry. Season it lightly with salt and pepper. Sear the tenderloin directly over the hot coals on all sides until it is browned, about 20 minutes, then move it over indirect heat and cover until it is cooked to medium-rare, about 45 minutes in all. Remove from heat when meat reaches 130° F on a meat thermometer inserted into the center; tented with foil, the temperature will rise to 140° to 145° F. Let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing it into half-inch rounds. Serves 6 to 8.

Meyer Lemon Soufflés

6 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
Juice of 6 Meyer lemons (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Unflavored vegetable oil or softened butter for greasing the soufflé dishes

In the top of a double boiler, combine and mix well the egg yolks, sugar and grated zest. Let this mixture cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and the flavors develop.

In a small saucepan, sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the lemon juice. Let the gelatin bloom for 5 minutes, then heat slowly to dissolve the gelatin. Add this to the yolk mixture and let it cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. When incorporated, fold this yolk mixture into the rest of the egg whites, and finally fold in the whipped cream very gently.

Lightly oil six individual soufflé dishes, or a 6-cup soufflé dish. Spoon in the mixture and refrigerate until set. Serves 6.

Alternate Wine Suggestions:

When you prepare this menu, try to drink the same wines we did; there's no better way to get to know a winemaker's style than by tasting through his portfolio. In two courses, we found two wines that played well to the food; both options are listed below. If you have trouble finding the primary choices, I've also rounded up similar wines that will do in a pinch.

Antipasti
First choices: A to Z Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2002 (87, $11); Francis Tannahill Gewürztraminer Washington Dragonfly 2002 (NR, $19)
Alternate choices: WillaKenzie Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2002 (89, $18); Canoe Ridge Gewürztraminer Washington Oak Ridge Vineyard 2002 (87, $13)

Polenta With Mascarpone and White Oregon Truffles
First choice: Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Waipara 1993 (NR, $NA)
Alternate choice: BMount Cass Pinot Noir Waipara Valley 2001 (90, $37)

Asian-Marinated Beef Tenderloin
First choices: Hatcher Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2002 (90, $33); Francis Tannahill Pinot Noir Willamette Valley The Hermit 2002 (NR, $33)
Alternate choices: Argyle Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2002 (90, $18); Brick House Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Clos Ladybug 2002 (90, $19)

Meyer Lemon Soufflés
First choice: Francis Tannahill Gewürztraminer Washington Passito 2001 (NR, $23/375ml)
Alternate choice: Kiona Gewürztraminer Red Mountain Late Harvest 2002 (88, $10/375ml)

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