I wrote about the red blend Banfi Centine
in 2006 and 2007, and since then I've frequently suggested the wine as an inexpensive but tasty Italian red that would work well with a wide range of Italian-American fare. While I'm always fond of the rich diversity of Italian food with so many unique ingredients and separate traditions, it's worth celebrating the fact that Italian cuisine branched off and formed a lot of new and delicious traditions here in the United States through the immigrant experience. Below, I'll provide the details for my chili mac that is pretty darned tasty as the weather is starting to get cold. A few days ago, I had to scrape a tiny layer of ice off my windshield for the first time this season, but today we were eating outside and eventually had to abandon the table because it was getting too warm, and the bees were out pollinating the trees that are still producing flowers in November. The joys of life in a hot climate.
Since it's still nice and warm, it's still time to enjoy a good rosé... hell, it's always time to drink pink. This is the rosato
entry in the Centine line, and I was excited to open it up.
2012 Banfi Centine Rosé
Proprietary Blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
$11, 12.5% abv.
It's very bright rosé with a noticeable strawberry scent with a hint of lemon. It has a tart body with a crisp finish. The pale salmon color looks beautiful in the glass, and the wine has a remarkably long aftertaste of really ripe strawberries. I think it pair well with grilled chicken and asparagus drizzled in reduced balsamic vinegar, but I had other plans.
On to the chili mac... Purists say that chili con carne is only meat based, and the only starches allowable are small amounts of masa to thicken it up. In the real world, people around the world stretch flavorful meat sauces with various carbohydrates. It's not a sign of cheapness, and if done properly, it can taste great. I've had chili with rice (not my favorite preparation), over corn chips (good in a Frito Pie), over spaghetti in Cincinnati
, and occasionally with a slice of bread. I tend to add red kidney beans whenever possible, and I recently made a big batch of chili with ground beef and kidney beans for freezing in convenient portions. It was great on its own, but a few weeks later I was able to defrost it and prepare a batch of chili mac.
I used organic rotini and didn't quite cook it al dente
. I stopped early so that it was still slightly chewy and drained it thoroughly. The idea was to allow it to soak up the juices from the chili rather than letting excess water dilute the existing flavors. In order to not make too much pasta, I poured the dish half-full of dry pasta, dumped that in the water, and then cooked it in a pot. I combined the cooked pasta, some cottage cheese, about a litre of chile, and covered the baking dish with foil. I cooked it slow for about an hour, then added a layer of shredded cheese to brown on top.
With meat, pasta, and beans, it's incredibly filling, and even a small bowl is enough for an entire dinner. I was quite happy with it, and am still enjoying the leftovers days later. Obviously I'm adding a lot of hot sauce to my bowls, but I prepared the chili (and the casserole) mild to allow others to adjust their bowls as desired. Now, if only it would get a little colder.
Note: This wine was provided as a sample for review.