Fred Tasker’s Barbecue Wine Suggestions

Miami Herald wine columnist, Fred Tasker, gave his wines for barbecues on my barbecue radio show (WLRN 91.3 FM, today.

Here are his picks:

Well, it’s barbecue season. We’re informed of that by all the national TV ads by Sears and K-Mart telling us to haul our grills out of the garage from winter storage and dust them off for the summer. Ignoring the fact that the entire southern one-third of the country grills outdoors all year long.
Still, we presume their hearts are in the right places.
So in that forgiving vein, I will give you three wine proposals – a white, a rose and a red – that will get you through the summer without barbecuing your wallet.
Now, I know Linda expects me to suggest a champagne for the white wine. I would, but that would be predictable. So I will suggest an almost-champagne. A nice Italian prosecco. A prosecco is a trendy version of champagne, with softer bubbles and sometimes a hint of sweetness, made from the prosecco grape.
A good example is the Martini & Rossi Prosecco from Italy: light, lemony, slightly sweet, spritzy; $14.50.
OK, now you’ll need a good rose wine to go with grilled salmon, picnic tuna salad sandwiches and so on. A good one to try is the De Casta Rosé by Miguel Torres of Spain, on supermarket shelves, with spicy, strawberry flavors, for a low, low $9.     And you need a good barbecue red. With good old American barbecue, I think you’re almost legally required to drink a good old American red zinfandel. For a good inexpensive one, you can’t go wrong with a Kendall Jackson Zinfandel at $15. It’s packed with spice and red raspberry flavors. Just the thing with those baby-back ribs with that sweet, spicy barbecue sauce.
And these can get you all the way through to the end of the barbecue season – whenever Madison Avenue Ad execs tell us that is.

Fred Tasker’s Wine with Chicken Suggestions

Miami Herald wine columnist, Fred Tasker, gives his chicken and wine pairing suggestions.

Let’s talk about wines that go with chicken.

Starting with these tasty, prize-winning chicken burgers. They have lots of Asian flavors – garlic, scallions, lemon grass, soy sauce, sesame oil, limes. I know a great wine to go with that. A 2007 Marques de Riscal white wine from the Rueda area, made with verdejo grapes. It’s really fruity, with flavors of pineapples and peaches. And it’s only $7.

But did you notice? I didn’t match the wine with the chicken. I matched it with all the flavorful things that went on the chicken.

Chicken just tastes like chicken. Hardly any flavor at all. Hard to match a wine with that. On the bright side, it’s hard to find a wine that will clash with it, either.

Chicken is a tabula rasa, a blank canvas, an empty slate on which brilliant artists like Linda and Brigitte Nguyen paint their flavors. And the rest of us can do the same.

Poach chicken in white wine and you’ll want the most delicate white wine with it – a muscadet, maybe.

Grill chicken with barbecue sauce and you want a hearty, spicy red wine like zinfandel. Again, you’re matching the wine to the sauce, not the chicken.

Buy a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and you want cheap bubbly with it, so those scrubbing bubbles can cut through all that grease. Same with chicken McNuggets.

Make a rich chicken pot pie with butter and cream and sherry and you – or I, at least – want a rich and buttery $600 bottle of fine French White Burgundy with it. If you have a friend with a good cellar.

Make a French-style roasted chicken with garlic and herbs and a big California chardonnay will be just right.

Build a creamy chicken-salad sandwich for a picnic, and a nice dry, fruity rose will be a wonderful match.

In fact, chicken is so non-specific in flavor that there’s a trick you can use to make it go with any wine in the world. You just sauté a nice, fat chicken breast and make a sauce out of the wine you want to serve with it.

National Chicken Cooking Contest 2009

Grand winner – $50,000
Brigitte Nguyen, Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw
Judges Choice winner – $10,000
Elise Lalor, Butterflied Chicken with Herbs and Sticky Lemon

Did you know that we eat about 85 pounds of poultry per person each year?  I’ve just come back from the 48th national chicken cooking contest.  It’s held every other year and the first one was held in 1949.  I don’t think we realize what goes into organizing a contest of this scale.  Here’s some numbers that will show you what i mean.   There were over 10,000 entries for the contest and these are all checked to make sure they’re original.  Then there are regional selections.  There are 9 regions throughout the us. The recipes are judged and one winner is selected from each region. The 9 finalists, were flown to San Antonio to cook their recipes for

Chicken Information:
First, the question of hormones.  There are no artificial or added hormones in any chickens in the us.   This is a law here that is regulated by the USDA. So whether it says it on the package or not there are no added hormones.

Another question I’m asked is about free range chickens.  This is what the law says.  Chickens can be called free range if they are allowed free access to the outside. I’ve seen many chicken coops where they do have free access, but they all seem to stay inside because the food and water is easy access for them.  So I’m not sure what it really means to buy a free range chicken.

Fresh is another question.  What does it mean when it’s labeled as fresh.  It means the chicken has never been below 26 degrees.  When i pick up a chicken at the market, many times it feels frozen or there are ice crystals.  This means that it has been deep chilled, to keep it fresh but not frozen to 26 degrees.

Recipe courtesy of the National Chicken Cooking Contest sponsored by the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Visit and for more great chicken recipes.

Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw

Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw

Brigitte Nguyen

2 pounds ground chicken
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
1/3 cup sliced scallions
6 hamburger buns with sesame seeds
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
sliced scallions
Sriracha Lime Mayo: recipe follows
Rainbow Sesame Slaw: recipe follows

In large bowl, mix together ground chicken, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, lemongrass and scallions. Divide mixture into 6 patties and set aside. Place grill pan over medium heat. Spread softened butter on hamburger buns and place on grill pan until light brown. Wipe grill pan with paper towel and brush with vegetable oil. Place chicken patties on grill pan and cook over medium high heat, turning once, until internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 7 minutes per side. During last few minutes of cooking, baste each burger with 1 tablespoon of the hoisin sauce. To assemble, place 1 tablespoon Sriracha Lime Mayo on each bottom and top bun. Place chicken on bun bottoms and top each with 1/3 cup Rainbow Sesame Slaw. Serve with any remaining slaw and mayo on the side. Garnish with scallions. Makes 6 servings.

Sriracha Lime Mayo: In small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup mayonnaise; zest and juice of 1 lime; and 2 tablespoons Sriracha Chile Sauce. Set aside.

Rainbow Sesame Slaw: In medium size bowl, mix together 2/3 cup julienne peppers (red, orange, yellow or any combination); 2/3 cup julienned snow peas, strings removed; 2/3 cup julienned jicama; 1-1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar; 1 tablespoon sugar; 1 tablespoon soy sauce; 1 teaspoon Sriracha Chile Sauce; 1 teaspoon sesame oil; and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds.

Butterflied chicken with Herbs and Sticky Lemon
Elise Lalor, Issaquah, WA
Judges Choice winner at the 48th National Chicken Cooking Contest

Flattened… butterflied… spatchcocked… it’s all the same thing and it refers to removing the backbone and breastbone (keel bone) from a chicken. This allows the chicken to lay flat, and speeds up the cooking time a little, too.

1 whole chicken, back bone and breast bone removed and flattened (see note below)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5 sprigs rosemary

10 long sprigs thyme

10 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers

2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  On cookie sheet, place rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs and garlic.  Arrange flattened chicken on top and sprinkle with olive oil.  Place chicken in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Pour sherry vinegar over chicken and cook additional 15 minutes.  Place lemon slices over chicken.  In small bowl, mix together honey and chipotle sauce; brush over lemon slices.  Bake chicken additional 10-15 minutes, brushing with honey sauce (use foil to cover chicken if it starts to burn.)  Test for doneness by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.  It should register 180 degrees.  Remove chicken to platter and sprinkle with almonds and parsley.  Makes 4 servings.


To butterfly chicken:

Place the chicken on a cutting board with the backbone facing you. Using a poultry shears or a sharp knife, cut down one side of the backbone from neck to tail and then the other side.  Remove the bone.  Turn the chicken over and cut out the breast bone without cutting through the skin. 

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