Thursday, 15 October 2009

Autumn Stews from France - Matelote

Matelote is a French fish stew made with red wine. It takes its name from the old French word for sailor or bunkmate matenot, which has its roots in the Latin matte meaning bed or from the Old Norse word mötunautr, meaning messmate.

The ingredients for Matelote vary all over France: the Alsace version is made with freshwater fish, Riesling wine, and thickened with cream and egg yolks and the Normandy version includes seafood and is flavoured with cider and Calvados. These stews are normally embellished with pearl onions and mushrooms.

The classic Bordeaux version is Matelote d'Anguille (Eel Stew) and uses red wine with mushrooms, onion, leeks, prunes and mushrooms.

Matelote d'Anguille

900g eel, skinned and cut into chunks (about 3cm thick)
3 tbsp brandy
8 prunes, pitted and chopped
4 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
1 bottle of red wine
30g butter
1 dessert spoon plain flour
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, finely chopped
100g button mushrooms, quartered
1 bouquet garni (bayleaf, parsley, chervil, thyme)
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
watercress, to garnish

Heat the oil and butter in a pan and when foaming add the eel pieces and fry until golden. Add the red wine and the prunes along with the bouquet garni then bring the mixture to a boil. Flame the brandy in a ladle then pour over the boiling liquid. As soon as the flames die down add a lid and reduce to a simmer then cook gently for 25 minutes.

In the meantime, add the remaining oil to a frying pan and use to fry the onion, garlic and leeks until soft (about 6 minutes). Stir in the mushrooms at this point and fry for about 6 minutes more, or until just golden. Take the lid off the pan with the eels then mix the butter and flour into a smooth paste before whisking into the wine stock until smooth. Ad the onion and mushroom mix to the pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Turn the stew into a warmed dish and garnish with a little watercress.

I would recommend two Rothschild wines from Pauillac to accompany Matelote d'Anguille. The first being the Second Wine of Château Mouton Rothschild: Le Petit Mouton (£43 - £110 dependant on the vintage). Le Petit Mouton is generally made from a selection of wines from the illustrious First growth Mouton Rothschild and is harvested, vinified and bottled with the same painstaking care. Le Petit Mouton has a special family connection as it is the home of Baroness Philippine and is centred right at the heart of the estate. Le Petit Mouton's ruby red wines are deep and concentrated with a nose of cherry jam, liquorice and spice with the toast and vanilla of oak. They are elegant and lush with a palate of peach, caramel and pepper. The wines are rich and well balanced and only a few thousand bottles are produced.

The second Pauillac is Château d'Armailhac (£18) which adjoins Château Pontet Canet to the west and south and Château Mouton Rothschild to the north and east. d'Armailhac dates back to the 1680s and one famous member of the d'Armailhac family – Armand - wrote a learned treatise on vine growing and wine making in the Médoc. He was an instrumental figure in improving quality at d'Armailhac, and across Bordeaux in general. He advocated the use of Cabernet Sauvignon above the other varietals and pushed for modern practices to be implemented. d'Armailhac's wines are full, firm and expressive with aromas of smoky redcurrant, cherries and cranberry. It's a medium bodied wine with a mineral character , is deep ruby in colour – almost purple and develops a blackcurrant, coffee and liquorice flavours with age. It's a classic wine and has much potential.

If you prefer white wine an excellent choice is Domaine De Ricaud Blanc (£5.37) which has the character and the richness to stand up to the strong flavours in this dish. It's produced from the Entre deux Mers region not far away from Cadillac - south east of Bordeaux. The aromas from this slightly pale, golden coloured, slightly pearlante, easy drinking white, are all of ripe soft fruits and summer blossoms. It has complex flavours of juicy apricots and exotic fruits. Bold and long on the palate, balanced and harmonious in the mouth it has well balanced acidity and is incredibly moreish!

I would also recommend the Spanish Brissonnet Rouge (£3.08) which has a very pronounced nose with good ripe fruit. It's a very powerful fruity wine on the front palate and is concentrated with no acidity, its cherry red colour with violet bloom are typical of its youth.

Enjoy!

28 comments:

FIXED BAYONET METAL SOLDIERS said...

good blog

FIXED BAYONET METAL SOLDIERS said...

where do you buy your winr hon?

Sue said...

Thanks! I am lucky enough to be married to a wine merchant so I am spoilt for choice. When I am in France I buy locally from the regions as I enjoy discovering new wines :-)

FIXED BAYONET METAL SOLDIERS said...

You should check out Italian wines, they've recently been declared the best in the world. I sell a lot between Milan and London.I'm not well up on French but incredibly there was a sparkling wine tasting in Italy (blind) and a ten pound bottle of Spumante beat a 135 euro Randolph Churchill champagne. I was actually there and tasted the wines and they were not wrong.So I'm a spumante drinker now. lol.
Also the English won a best sparkling wine contest, forget what it was.Cheers G

Sue said...

You make a good point about Italian wines and this is something that I'd like to do! Thanks :-)

FIXED BAYONET METAL SOLDIERS said...

but isn't it amazing that in that blind tasting a ten pound bottle of spumante beat a really expensive Randolph Churchill champagne. The spumante was from the Italian tyrol. If you are interested I can dig the name up.

Sue said...

I agree! I think I will have to do a blog about this don't you?

maria said...

The point is this, are we paying far too much for French wine simply because its French. I really can't answer that because I have little experience of French wine. I drink Primitivo Di Masnduria as an every day wine and sometimes Los Vascos. I tend to stick to the wine I know for every day drinking. Don't start a blog .

Sue said...

Hi Maria - thanks for your comment :-) I think all things are relative - I disagree that we pay too much for French wine simply because it is French. I can buy good French wine at under £6 a bottle. However top flight French wines have gone through the roof price wise . . .I am talking about wines that collectors and investors buy. The equivalent of Sassicaia in Italy for example which is obviously more expensive than Primitivo Di Masnduria.

I believe in hunting out good wines from lesser known regions and lesser known wine makers. They deserve the promotion and credit as they do not have the money or resources to compete with the big guys.

I think it is great that a cheap spumante can beat a great champagne and that deserves a blog don't you think?

maria said...

yeah do one. give ideas on french wine that you can buy easily

Sue said...

Thanks Maria - I'll sort one out for the future. I am based in the UK so I can recommend some wines that are easy to purchase over here and I'll try and find similar recommendations for the USA too. Whereabouts are you located?

maria said...

Im a model and also a Lecturer, I float about but mainly in Italy

Sue said...

Thanks Maria! Italy! Wonderful :-) Italian wines are on my wish list to learn more about. Juel Mahoney of http://www.vinissima.net/ writes a great blog on Italian wines and is a great read!

superchick said...

I bought this three days ago
cAN YOU GIVE ME YOUR HONEST BUT HONEST VERDICT
Chateau Belregard figeac
sant emilion grand cru 2007


GAEC pueyo frefres proprietaire a libourne gironde

Sue said...

Hi,

I asked Nick about your Chateau Belregard Figeac. This is not a Saint Emilion he has come across before but he is glad you have spotted it as he is going to hunt it out next time he is in Bordeaux!

The 2007 vintage is a great drinking vintage so it should be good - the chateau is owned by Jacques and Jean-Paul Pueyo and has been in their family since 1853. Given that it has Figeac in its name Nick is wondering if it belonged to that estate in times past.

Please let us know how you like the wine once tasted!

Thanks!

superchick said...

its a 12 òper center but feels more like 15. it was 30 pounds circa and overpriced in my opinion by about two thirds. It seems to be a wine that has to accompany a heavy winter meal.I have drunk Rosso di Cervo from tuscany that was as good as this but cost a fiver. You couldn't really open this thinking "Oh lets just have a glass of wine". You have to eat food with it like one of your things Sue.
For a Gran Cru not impressed although if it was a fiver I'd be impressed

Sue said...

Hi - thanks for the feedback! I agree re price - crica £30 is a LOT of money for a generic AOC St Emilion. If this was a Grand Cru Classe it would be a different story (Classified St Emilion Grand Cru).

Bordeaux wines are normally food wines but I do find ones with a lot of Merlot in the blend are more approachable for easy drinking.

You can find St Emilion wines for around a fiver - there are some great ones in the £6 - £10 bracket but for easy drinking the Languedoc makes some super wines. I tend to go on grape variety and vintage - ie I know for French reds 2005, 09 and 10 were good years but that the wine will be strong, rich and complex. 2008 is also a good year but is more balanced. For whites 2007 and 2008 were good :-)

superchick said...

no this was a ST EMILLION GRAN CRU. Its written big on the bottle

superchick said...

YTo my mind if a wine is only good if you use it for food then something is amiss. I can imagine one of your stews with this and the two going together but nothing more like having a drink on its own. Anyway its ST EMILLION GRAN CRU on the bottle

superchick said...

can you put down ten great wines that one can buy in london.what about your firm do they have an outlet?

superchick said...

i didnt drink very well in the area above nice some years ago but went for ordinary wine on the places i ate in.at the moment i'm drinking los vascos rose from chile , it was 13 pounds knockied to a fiver, i dont usually like rose but this is nice.

Sue said...

Hi :-) There is a difference between St Emilion Grand Cru and Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe. Practically every wine in Saint Emilion can call itself a Grand Cru but to be a Grand Cru Classe they have to reach certain levels of excellence.

Saint Emilion is the only classification system to reclassify its wines every 10 years. Which means to become a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe the chateaux have to keep their quality of wine making to very high standards in order to qualify. This is why they have a higher price tag.

Hope this helps :-)

Sue said...

Hi - you can buy Nick's wines from www.bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk - it is an online wine merchants so we don't have an outlet in London :-(

I'd happily like to help recommend some wines for you to find in London. What grapes do you like, what sort of price range are you looking for and what sort of wine style do you like? (red, white, rose, dry, medium, sweet, fruity etc)

superchick said...

anything and thanks

superchick said...

I did one of your stews , fantastic

Sue said...

That's good to know! Glad you enjoyed it :-)

superchick said...

its good to see a domestic woman these days as there are so many women that are totally useless as regards what women are supposed to be good at. Well done Sue.

Sue said...

Thanks! Though I must admit I am lucky - 3 great kids, 1 adorable husband plus a menagerie of dogs, cats, horses and chickens!