Cooking with Bordeaux wines: recipes from Anne Lataillade

Papilles et Pupilles gives some advice about cooking with Bordeaux wines. While we are more used to having wine in the glass than on the plate, the use of the divine nectar as an ingredient should not be neglected.  There is an essential rule to follow, however: just like other ingredients, it needs to be excellent. To cook a good dish, you need a good wine.

In Bordeaux, the most original recipe for cooking with wine is undoubtedly lamprey à la Bordelaise.

A fish shaped rather like an eel, with a sharp-toothed sucking mouth, the lamprey is fished traditionally in the Gironde estuary, the Garonne and the Dordogne. For the preparation of the recipe, think jugged fish. The lamprey is bled, and its blood mixed with a red Bordeaux wine, preferably a fruity one. It is then cooked slowly, with the addition of some leeks cut into chunks. The result is a fish with melting flesh accompanied by a brown sauce, creamy and with powerful, perfumed flavours.

A real discovery to be made in the few Bordeaux restaurants that have it on their menus during the season (between December and May). It can also be found tinned in the city’s gourmet food shops.

La cuisine aux vins de Bordeaux lamproie  

Bordelaise sauce

Less original but just as famous is bordelaise sauce, the perfect accompaniment for cuts of beef grilled over well-dried vine shoots. Made of shallots, butter, thyme and red wine, it is simmered at the fireside. When the consistency is right, lightly syrupy, diced beef marrow is added. A perfect match.

But red wine is not only for savoury dishes

It can also be used in desserts. In Bourg sur Gironde, where many fig trees were planted in homage to a visit by Louis XIV, caramelised violet fruit is made. 45 minutes in the oven in red wine with a little sugar, honey and cinnamon. Delicious!

If you are not keen on figs, go for poached pears

Select firm fruit so that it doesn’t collapse on cooking and then either a red wine or a sweet white, depending on your taste. For a red, flavour with cinnamon or vanilla and for a sweet white think pepper, orange zest or even a touch of saffron. A dessert that will delight you at harvest time.

Vins liquoreux image  

Sweet whites also lend themselves to savoury recipes. Using them to marinate foie gras for a few hours will add soul to your dish and delight your guests.

As for dry white wines, they can be used in making a risotto.

Just put 250 g arborio rice in a cooking pot with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cook for 3 minutes (until the rice becomes shiny) and then deglaze with 50 ml of white wine. Then add vegetable stock, ladle by ladle over a good quarter of an hour, until the rice is cooked. To maintain the local flavour, add 400 g of well-browned Bordeaux cep mushrooms.

 La cuisine aux vins de Bordeaux fraises  

What to do with left-over wine

Are there some dregs left in the bottle after your guests have gone?  Don’t panic, you can put a little red wine in a vinaigrette (1 tablespoon vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of pepper and 1 tablespoon wine), deglaze grilled meat, liven up sugared strawberries (1 tablespoon wine and 1 tablespoon sugar for 100 g of strawberries) or add to a soup to perform Chabrot (the custom of adding a little wine before drinking what’s left in the soup bowl). As for white or rosé wines, use them to add flavour to a cake (about 100 to 150 ml) or to moisten sea bass from Arcachon Bay cooked in the oven.

As you can see, whether it is white, red or rosé, sweet or fruity, dry or tannic, wine can be used in the kitchen as an ingredient. And don’t forget more traditional dishes like stews, where the alcohol not only flavours the meat but also helps to make it tender.