Pairing Chicken ala Veracruzana With Limerick Lane Zinfandel
Chicken ala Veracruzana Recipe from Chef Chuy Valencia
Those who’ve discovered Sonoma County wine tasting and food pairings are in on the secret: Zinfandel—California’s historic grape—is ready for its closeup. Once pigeonholed as the bold briary upstart beloved by burger and barbecue connoisseurs, zinfandel—versatile, rich—can be produced in a wide range of styles and with regional distinction.
At Limerick Lane, we let our unique microclimate speak. We produce full-bodied, beautifully balanced zinfandels that elevate the finest foods, dishes traditionally paired with cabernet or pinot. We’d never turn down a great brisket. But we shine beside bourguignon.
In this and upcoming blog posts, we’ll share recipes our partner chefs love to pair with Limerick Lane Zinfandels.
Sonoma County Chef Chuy Valencia
“I was born and raised in Sonoma County to a family of hard-working Mexican immigrants who grew our food in the backyard and always had a pot of something mouthwatering simmering on the stove.” After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco in 2005, Chuy moved to Chicago to work at Frontera Grill under famed Chef Rick Bayless. He moved on to the Adobo Grill and later opened Chilam Balam Chicago. His experience and reputation earned him a contestant spot on Bravo TV’s Top Chef and led to appearances on Food TV’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Chef Chuy has since worked as Executive Winery Chef at Silver Oak Cellars.
Chef Chuy is available for private events. If you find yourself in Sonoma and in need of a personal chef, he can be reached at email@example.com or learn more about him at www.chuyvalencia.com
About the recipe: Chicken ala Veracruzana
Chicken ala Veracruzana derives from Chicken ala Veracruz, a dish from the state of Veracruz, Mexico. To the indigenous chiles and tomato, I’ve added ingredients emblematic of the melting pot that Mexico has become: raisins, olives and capers. The mild heat of the chile, tomato tang, subtle sweetness of the raisins, and hint of brine provided by the olives and capers pair seamlessly with the ripe fruit and bright acidity of Limerick Lane’s elegant, expressive zinfandels.
If you’re a fan of Moroccan food, you might find this dish similar in flavor to a chicken tagine. We tasted Chicken ala Veracruzana with the following wines: 2019 1910 Block Zinfandel; 2019 Rocky Knoll Zinfandel, and 2019 Squatter’s Hill Zinfandel. The 1910 Block and Rocky Knoll offered a gorgeous complement to the flavors of the dish, but my favorite was probably the Squatter’s Hill. Its complex flavor, medium body and strong presence of dark fruit harmonize with the slight sweetness of the sauce and highlight the cinnamon notes. But you can’t go wrong with any Limerick Lane Zinfandel–we encourage you to find your favorite, and make this dish again and again!
– Chef Chuy Valencia
- 8 chicken thighs with the bones in and skin on
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ of a large yellow onion, diced small
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced medium
- 5 large sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves, fresh preferred
- 1 tbsp New Mexico chile powder
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup green olives with pimentos, rinsed under cold water then sliced
- 2 tbsp capers, rinsed under cold water then chopped
- 3 pickled jalapeños, seeds and stems removed then chopped
- ½ cup yellow raisins
- 3 Yukon gold potatoes
- 6 Roma tomatoes, if tomato quality isn’t great just use a 28oz can of whole tomatoes
- Fresh ground pepper
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- If you’re using fresh tomatoes, begin by heating a heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch
oven, over medium heat. Once it has preheated for a few minutes add in your tomatoes
turning them every 3 to 4 minutes until charred on a few sides and begin to wilt a little,
then set them aside.
- Wipe out the pot and place back on the burner but lower your heat to a medium flame
and add the olive oil. Season chicken liberally on both sides with salt and pepper then
carefully place the chicken skin side down in the hot olive oil. Cook the chicken thighs
skin side down for 7-9 minutes or until golden brown, then repeat the process for the
other side. Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate to set aside.
- Use a heat proof spoon to remove excess oil from the pot, leaving approximately only
about the amount of oil with which you began. Add in the onions, garlic, carrots and a
pinch of salt and stir frequently with a sturdy wooden spoon making sure to dislodge the
brown bits from the pan left over from the chicken, for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the
onion becomes translucent and fragrant. Next add in the bay leaf, thyme, cinnamon and
New Mexico chile, stir for another minute just to give them a chance to also get aromatic.
- Lastly, peel your tomatoes then roughly puree them in a blender and put them in the pot
along with the potatoes, capers, olives, raisins and pickled jalapeño. Add the chicken
pieces back in and another pinch of salt then stir to combine everything.
- Bring to a simmer then cover and place in the preheated oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until
just fork tender.
- To serve: Check the seasoning of sauce and add more salt, pepper or other spices as
desired. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with white rice.