Our usual M.O. for dinner preparations is to decide on the food first, and then pick a wine to match. But once in a while, we like to mix things up and go the other way. Vinho Verde is one of my very favorite wines, and we buy it quite frequently, but we often drink it with whatever food we're having - because it goes with so many things. As a result, we sometimes miss out on its full potential as a food wine.
But tonight I decided to bring the food to the wine and prepare a hearty Portuguese-style fish stew. I'm careful to say style because people get all huffy when you suggest that your particular version of an ethnic dish hovers in the vicinity of what is truly authentic, whatever that is. That said, here's my recipe. I don't like to specify measurements because I rarely measure, so let your taste and judgement guide you.
Sautee some minced garlic, diced red onion and diced fennel in olive oil. Add some fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, diced chorizo, bite-sized cubes of sweet potato and white potato and equal parts clam juice and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are just tender. Then add bite-sized chunks of fish (I used basa, but any mild,white-fleshed fish is fine) and a few large handfuls of baby kale. Stir gently to get the fish and greens down under the vegetables. Cover and cook until the fish is done and the baby kale is wilted. Serve with bread, for soaking up the juice, and of course a nice glass of Vinho Verde.*
*our selection tonight was Gazela Vinho Verde, which usually runs between $6 and $10 a bottle.