Flavorful sidekicks make holiday main dishes memorable


Double Pork Loin Roast with Fennel and Sage

Fennel and Belgian Endive Casserole

Drumstick Crown Roast

Cornbread and Candied Pecan Dressing

Country Cream Gravy

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.

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