Flavorful sidekicks make holiday main dishes memorable
Feasting, to be done well, requires scale. A magnificent roast is the traditional entrée for establishing grandeur on special occasions. Although modern households are rarely big enough to consume a saddle of this or a baron of that, a pork roast made of two loins bound together and a playful crown of chicken drumsticks are delicious smaller-but-impressive choices.
They get even better with the perfect companion dish: with the pork, a lavish fennel and Belgian endive casserole, and to fill the ring of chicken drumsticks, bacon-laced cornbread dressing with tangy glazed pecans and a homey cream gravy.
The very best news is that these side dishes can be prepared, for the most part, a day ahead of time, leaving you time to think about that final festive touch: the perfect wine to pour with your grand roast.
Grand wine pairings
The right wine can create a delightful union with a roast and companion dish. Here are the types ― and a few specific bottles ― that complement each menu. If these labels aren't available to you, ask the salesperson at your wine shop to suggest wines with a similar profile.
For the fennel- and sage-seasoned pork with gorgonzola-sauced fennel and Belgian endive casserole. A lighter dry red wine, well balanced and smooth, with cherry, plum, and berry overtones that can handle the bite of the cheese. From the biggest to the most subtle:
• Le Clos du Caillou Vieilles Vignes, Sylvie et Jean-Denis Vacheron-Pouizin 2000 (Côtes du Rhône, France), about $14.
• Muga Reserva 1995 (Rioja, Spain), about $25.
• Joseph Phelps Vineyards Le Mistral 1999 (California), $25.
For the chicken, cornbread dressing with sweet glazed pecans, and gravy. A crisp, fresh, clean dry white wine with gentle fruitiness and good acid balance. From the crispest and freshest to the faintly herbal:
• Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2000 (America); the name is hard to spot on this uniquely labeled bottle, $10.
• Swanson Vineyards Napa Valley Pinot Grigio 2000 (Napa Valley), $18.
• Matanzas Creek Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2000 (Sonoma County), $22.