Despite hearing, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, repeatedly, my day still starts with coffee and a late brunch in my office. To me, dinner is the “golden” meal of the day. Cooking leisurely is so relaxing, and sharing meals is a lot of fun. In Bolivia, a beautifully rugged landlocked country, which sits at a 12,000 ft altitude in South America, lunch plays a similar role to my “golden” dinner. For lunch, Bolivians usually go home, eat a long three course meal and then take a nap. Imagine doing that in our “on-the-go” lifestyle in the US. Wishing I had that kind of “time luxury”, I am making an “elaborate” Bolivian cornmeal battered chicken in my California kitchen today.
To begin, I first dissolve 1 cup of sea salt in 4 cups of water and brine 4 lbs of chicken pieces for 30 minutes at room temperature. While the chicken meats are getting brined, I preheat a pot with some extra virgin olive oil and sauté 2 onions (chopped) & 3 cups tomatoes (chopped) with 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped), 2 teaspoons sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Next I add ½ cup white wine, ½ teaspoon ground coriander & ½ teaspoon oregano to the pot and let it simmer. Separately, in a bowl, I mix 3 Tablespoons cornmeal, ¾ cup butter milk, 2 eggs, ½ teaspoon sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and beat the mixture well. Then, I dry the chicken with paper towels, coat them with the cornmeal batter and deep fry them until golden browned. Next, I remove the chicken from the frying pan and drain oil on paper towels. Finally, I add the chicken to the tomato wine sauce, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
I am pairing this melt-in-your-mouth, SUPER buttery, juicy chickens with a 2006 Piccini Chianti Superiore from Tuscany, Italy. A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot, this dry red wine has black cherry and red plum aromas and flavors with notes of spices. Aged in oak for 9 months, tannin and acidity are also well-balanced. This wine is a totally awesome match for the cornmeal battered chicken in a tomato-based sauce. Not only does the high acidity and medium body of the wine stand up well against the tomato sauce, but also against the rich chicken meats. And, how nicely the vibrant finish of the wine cleanses each bite of tender chicken meats, accentuated by the crunchy roasted onions in the mouth. This pairing is heavenly. But, watch out for a food coma, you may feel too tired to do anything after this meal! Perhaps this is why Bolivians need a “nap” after their heavy lunch? I wouldn’t mind taking a nap on an island overlooking the gorgeous Lake Titicaca in Bolivia!
Hope you enjoy the taste of Bolivia and the pairing with Chianti. Happy cooking!