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Kitchen comfort

Family favourites, I guess we all have them. You know those recipes that you could make with your eyes closed but somehow you always get the recipe book out for? You have to check the exact amounts, even though you’ve cooked it a thousand times. To get them wrong would bring down family approbation on your head.

At home we’ve got just such a recipe by Mary Berry, from a time when she was only known as an AGA cook. It’s a type of devilled chicken that uses a combo of store cupboard faithfuls like apricot jam, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. It always strikes me as I make this marinade, using all those famous names, like Kikkoman, Lea and Perrin, Heinz and Grey Poupon that it’s a kind of sacrilege to mix them all together. Such a barbarian thing to do and so British in its way. Like the battlefield creations of Beef Wellington or Mayonnaise, origins for such concoctions have faded from the collective memory. And yet history remains in this coverless and broken-backed book, a recipe on a besplattered page that looks like it was found under a dying soldier in a Napoleonic field hospital.

So, for a spicy number like this – or for light curries and other taste bud challenging dishes – what to drink?

Some may recommend a light red, such as a Pinot Noir for instance, but for Manu at OAK N4 the ideal is a Germanic white wine, dry of course but full. Something like a Spatlese* of a dry Riesling (pronounced reece-ling) or a Gewurtztraminer (guh-vertz-tram-in-ur). Riesling is what they call ‘off-dry’ and it’s that bit of sweetness that helps it hold its own against the spice, it’s also low in alcohol. Gewurtztraminer is a smidge sweeter but still not what you would call a medium sweet wine and has more alcohol. It goes well with Chinese food too in my view.

OAK N4 have one of each of these on their list. Haag Gewurztraminer from Alsace and the Markus Molitor Riesling Spatlese try them at home with Asian dishes.

*Wine Bluffer says: Spatlese (shpet-lay-zur) refers to the time the grapes were picked (‘spat’ means late and ‘lese’ means picking). These grapes are given a few more days in the sun after the harvest to develop greater body and intensity of flavour.

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