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Dec 13, 2011 02:39 PM

Pairing for Za'atar and Pistachio Crusted Poussin with Quince and Rose Jam

Doesn't that sound amazing? The recipe is from "Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume" by Silvena Rowe. I will be serving the poussins for Christmas dinner. What are your pairing suggestions? Be creative!

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  1. Sounds great but a tough wine pairing. Zaatar is an assertive spice, and the quince jam will be both acidic and sweet. Undoubtedly, you will get some recommendations for champagne/sparkling wine, and this will be a good, safe bet. I'm thinking something with pronounced aromatics, good acidity, and enough interest not to get crushed by the dish.

    So, my recs would be a weighty Gewurtz, like Trimbach Gewurztraminer Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre or Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl; or a big Pinot Gris like Barmes Buecher Pinot Gris Silicis or Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl.

    The danger with these pairings is that a sweet jam will make the (sweet but) less sweet wine taste sour. My advice is, if you're going for good pairing, is to be careful with the level of sweetness in that jam and to be judicious in its amount with the fowl.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chefdilettante

      Thank you for your advice. I should make clear that the quince-rose jam will be served alongside the chicken; it is not a glaze. So perhaps it is less important to the pairing.

      1. re: chefdilettante

        Maybe a Hungarian Furmint or a Condrieu or a Vignoier?

      2. Hi - How will the poussin be prepared? If it's a method that adds a lot of flavor (roasted w/skin on, for example) I think an aromatic, low-tannin Pinot Noir will actually work beautifully, especially since the jam will be on the side.

        A nice cool-climate Pinot will have floral and herb notes that will work really well with all the herbs in the aromatic za'atar (oregano, thyme, etc.) as well as the rose notes in the jam. Also sumac (in za'atar) has a slightly bitter quality to it that will harmonize with the tannins in the wine.

        Burgundy would be nice - the cooler, cheaper '08s will work well here - or something from the Sonoma Coast or Carneros. I'd avoid powerful, very fruity and dark Pinots - Russian River Valley big guns like Williams Selyem etc - better a more delicate style, to keep from overpowering the delicate meat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: originalfig

          The poussin will be roasted skin on -- before roasting rubbed with butter and then za'atar and ground pistachios.

          Interesting idea, Pinot. Thanks.

        2. At Rendezvous restaurant in Cambridge I was served a Saison ("Jack D'Or" by Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, Cambridge) that was quite nice. I think that it could pair well as the beer has enough malt to not be overwhelmed by the sweetness of the dish but also it's inherent spiciness and dry finish can help compete with the Za'atar and pistachio and cleanse the palate.
          Beer I think has an advantage over wine in situations like this where there are big flavors and sweetness in the dish. The body of many beers will help it absorb the intensity of the meal and without being sweet.


          1. What do you think of pairing with a Savennieres or Vouvray?

            4 Replies
            1. re: celestialmundane

              I'd go white, with exotic aromatics, medium weight. good acidity.

              My sense is anything red will overpower the subtle flavors. Exotic aromatics in a white wine (tropical, floral, citrus, honeysuckle, rose petal, lychee, autumnal spice, etc.) would be a complement (and perhaps a potentiator) to the quince and rose jam.

              Viognier, Riesling Auslese, and yes, Savennieres. Also, Erbaluce, Gewurztraminer.

              You have to be picky about Savennieres. Some are hugely flinty with little fruit, others are sublime with citrus, brioche, and lots of flavor layers and aromatics. My favorite is the Baumard, and I'd try to find one with some age. Vouvray will be flinty but too green, not the best pairing in my book.

              Savennieres has been written about several times on this board.
              Here are some descriptions:

              As another has suggested. I'd incorporate the rose jam and/or quince paste into the roasting process -- perhaps brushing with this glaze, then rolling the poussin in the ground pistachios to create the crust. Or, you could whisk these into the pan juices after roasting and pour over the meat. Please be mindful of the amount of za-atar you use. A pinch too much and it will easily kill off the subtle flavors.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Vouvray sounds fine, but you can get some not flinty, closer to moelleux, though the label does not always reveal it. Actually, Pine Ridge makes a delicious California chenin blanc-viognier blend that's a steal and might be just the right quaffer. For a red, a chilled Fleurie, maybe, a Freisa or Ruche from Piemonte, or a Lacrima di Morra from le Marche for softer, midweight, fragrant reds.

                1. re: bob96

                  My vote: A weighty, slightly off-dry Cab Franc rose. The herbal/vegetal flavours would work well with the za'atar, and the fruity sweetness and acidity would work with the jam.

                  Best place to look would be the Niagara Peninsula. Rose from the Loire would also work, but they don't have the trace of residual sugar. Beyond that you would be looking for some oddities from California, Washington, etc.

                  Another idea: A sparkling Rose. If you wanted to make it just a tad sweet, add in a bit of late harvest or icewine.

                  1. re: zamorski

                    Rose is a good idea. Anything darker will overpower the subtleties of the dish, IMO.
                    Though it will be difficult to find a Rose that will add the complementary/augmenting aromatics that will help the exotic signature flavors -- quince and rose -- to bloom, so to speak.

            2. i like both the Pinot Noir and the rose ideas...and i'll add one more red: Mencia -- one of my favorite Spanish grapes, from Ribeira Sacra and Bierzo...