Suggested Wine Pairing: 2019 Estate Pinot Gris
Growing up with a chef for a father, Thanksgiving was one the holiday in our house. Kevin would get up at 3:30am or 4:00am – yes, in the morning – preparing an elaborate scratch meal. There were turkeys and multiple types of stuffing, bread, green bean casserole and sweet potatoes – everything you could think of. But the highlight of the meal was always the dessert. Kevin always stuck to the traditional flavors – pumpkin, pecan, and apple, with flaky, buttery crusts, but his apple pie was always the showstopper.
Thick apple slices, cinnamon, warm spices and the perfect balance of sweetness make this my ideal dessert. As soon as I tried our Laurel Ridge Estate 2019 Estate Pinot Gris, I knew that it would be a Thanksgiving match made in heaven. With notes of honeysuckle, fresh orchard apple, and a perfect zing of minerality, the acidity of the 2019 Estate Pinot Gris balances the sweetness of the pie, brings out the delicate notes of spice and highlights the delightful flavor of seasonal Granny Smith apples.
We are so excited to share his recipe with you below, including his “secret” ingredients, black pepper, and vanilla bean paste. The black pepper is very important to balance the spice and sweetness of this pie. While I would strongly encourage you to use vanilla bean paste (Trader Joe’s and Fred Meyers have great ones), vanilla bean extract will work as well.
Whether you are able to see your family in person this year, or you’re doing a virtual celebration, it is our hope that this recipe brings a little bit of sparkle and joy to your gathering – from our family, to yours. Crack open a bottle of Pinot Gris, and celebrate!
Bringing any sort of meal to a chef’s house is intimidating – even more so when the chef is your father! My first foray into decorative lattices came when I was 26, the first year I was tasked with providing the family desserts for Thanksgiving. Although I was fairly confident that I could replicate my dad’s recipes, I wanted to do something to make the dessert feel like it was my own. To put my own stamp on the pies, I began crafting unique lattices, and pairing each pie with a recommended wine. It has been such a fun, and creative outlet – and looks incredibly impressive, while being incredibly easy to do (I promise).
It was a hit. Each year, I try to come up with new and different ways to decorate my pies – from braid, to polka dots, to hearts, to herringbone patterns! Read on to find out some of my best tips for a show stopping pie crust, as well our favorite pie and wine pairing combinations!
Make sure your filling is as cool as possible. Obviously, you will start by lining your pie dish with the bottom crust, and then adding your filling – but don’t hesitate to let that yummy apple pie filling (or whichever variety you’re making) cool off a little bit in the pan before adding it to your prepared pie dish. If the filling is too hot, as you are laying your lattice down, it will warm the dough so much that it falls apart, gets gooey, or just won’t come up off of the filling.
Make sure your dough is kneaded well and pliable – but still cold. I’ll admit, this might be the toughest part of the entire pie making process! You want your dough to be warm and kneaded enough that is is pliable, so you can easily roll it out, but not so warm that it begins to break and dry out. The more you touch the dough, the more likely it is that you will damage your crust. A good rule of thumb for this is to make sure your dough is smooth (that’s how you’ll know it’s been probably kneaded) but also just tough enough that you have to apply some pressure when rolling the dough out. You want your dough to be in a rough circle.
Don’t overdo the flour. Flour is integral to rolling out the dough properly – but don’t over do it! A light dusting will get the job done. You should only be dusting the surface of the rolled out dough as you flip it – not adding any flour to the actual kneading process.
Plan your design – and work fast! This is the most labor intensive part. Crafting a pie lattice requires you to move quickly, before the dough becomes too warm, or begins to break. This is especially true if you are working with a filling that is even slightly warm. To find inspiration, I typically look on Instagram, Pinterest…or will even check out weaving diagrams! To get started, focus on the traditional lattice, 3 strand braids, or a herringbone pattern if you’re feeling fancy. To ensure that the strips are roughly the same width, sometimes I will use a ruler to guide me – but sometimes I will just eyeball it! It all depends on your comfort level.
Not feeling up to braiding or weaving? Try Chef Kevin Bechtel’s recommendation of using cookie cutters. Even just dots layered in circles make a run of the mill pie feel a little bit extraordinary!
Cut your dough strips – and then chill them! I can not over-emphasize this. Whether you are preparing to braid, weave, or even just lay down dough that’s been cut with cookie cutters, I strongly recommend laying these strips out on a cookie sheet and chilling them for about 10 minutes before you start assembling your lattice. The extra cold just helps the process go a little quicker. As a general rule of thumb, anytime you experience dough breaking or stretching, you should immediately pop your dough back in the fridge for a 5 minute “time out”.
Laurel Ridge’s Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide:
Are you baking pies this holiday season? Feeling intimidated? Don’t worry – here at Laurel Ridge Winery, we have you covered, from the best wine pairings for any pie, to creating the best ever from scratch pie.
One of our culinary consultants, and the chef behind our wine club release parties, Kevin Bechtel, just so happens to be a “pie champion” (literally). He has over 35 years of experience in the food and restaurant industry. An award winning chef, he is a former Board Member, Board President, and Chair of the International Corporate Chefs Association, as well as a Board Member, Board President, and Chair of the Oregon Restaurant Association. His awards include the prestigious Menu Master’s Award in 2011, and the IFMA Culinary Innovation Award in 2012. Over the course of his career, he has been awarded over 60 medals at the National Pie Championships.
Now to me of course, Kevin is better known as my dad. Over the years, a pattern has emerged…every Thanksgiving Eve, Kevin’s phone blows up with every food question imaginable. But the most requested topic of help is always the pie. Because really – is it even Thanksgiving without SOME sort of pie?! From pumpkin pies that just won’t set, to pecan pies that bake too quickly, to burned apple pie crusts…Kevin has heard it all. I asked my dad to share some of his best tips and troubleshooting for pies.
Pick the right dish, and bake accordingly:
Did you know that the color of your pan will affect how your pie bakes? Set yourself up for success by selecting the best pan.
Shiny pans, dark pans, and glass pans all cook differently. When baking a pie in a glass or ceramic pie pan, Kevin recommends baking at 25 degrees under the recommended temperature – so if your recipe calls for baking your pie at 350 degrees, he would recommend 325. Additionally, dark metal pans (or shiny pans) will cook the pie more quickly and produce a browner crust.
And don’t forget – always keep your pie dishes in the refrigerator until the last possible moment!
Creating the perfect pie crust is all about temperature. Why is it so important that everything is cold, you ask? “All of your ingredients should be cold – you can even put the flour in the fridge, as well,” Kevin explains. “The warmer your ingredients are, the stronger the gluten link will be, resulting in a tougher crust.”
Make sure your crust is well ventilated. Aside from being beautiful, Kevin explains that one of the appeals of a lattice crust it releases steam, resulting in a flaky, decadent crust. “If you’re trying to make a double vented pie, you have to make sure your slits are large enough to properly release steam.” Kevin recommends vents that are 2.5 to 3 inches in length. He also says this can be viewed as an opportunity to get creative. “Not everything has to be a complicated lattice. Think of fun decorating ideas like using cookie cutters to make holes, or using cookie cutters to make apples and leaves.” One of the additional benefits of these creative crusts? Better ventilation!
Trust the process – be patient when baking. Kevin says that one of the biggest mistakes novice bakers make is simply a lack of patience.
Remember to tag us on social media so we can see your pies! And if you have any further questions for Kevin, drop us a comment or a message! We’ll reach out to get your question answered!
Now stay tuned…if you want your lattice to look great and confidently know how find the perfect wine pairing for any pie, be sure to watch for my next blog post on decorating and serving the perfect pie!
Every holiday season needs a little extra sparkle – especially this year, which has presented a unique set of challenges. Here at the vineyard, we thought we would help make your holiday season bright with a very special re-introduction…our Tawny Port.
Port is a wine that our vineyard has historic reputation for producing, and may be one of our most anticipated releases within the last decade. Our founder David Teppola began crafting Ports in 1998. He began with a Ruby Port, followed by a Tawny Port released in 1999. David had his own special, proprietary process that he utilized. Crafting a Tawny Port is a delicate balancing act requiring the wine’s elements of acid, alcohol, and sugar to be in perfect measure. Knowing this, he felt very strongly that crafting a Port that would meet his standards for character and quality required exacting attention to detail and the highest caliber product every step of the way. David’s process reflected this commitment to excellence, from the brix (or sugar) content of the original fruit being used, to the quality of the still Pinot Noir he sent to be distilled into brandy, to his choice of Clear Creek Distillery to produce our brandy
David continued to make Port, ultimately winning two gold medals at the Astoria Seafood and Wine Festival in 2004 with a Cabernet Franc Ruby Port which was one of our most popular to date. That vintage was followed by another enormously popular Cabernet Sauvignon Port in 2008.
This year’s release of Tawny Port is half Cabernet Sauvignon and half Cabernet Franc, combining the two incredibly followed 2004 and 2008 vintages into one beautifully crafted Port. The barrels at the time of this bottling had been aged for 14 to 16 years.
Our Tawny Port is immediately eye catching, with a beautiful, shimmering copper color. The warm, enveloping aroma surrounds you with brown sugar, vanilla, and hazelnut, making us think of creme brûlée. Each sip of the port brings warming and nostalgic flavors such as caramelized figs, gingerbread, and peanut brittle, balanced with the slightest musky notes of tobacco leaf. This will be the perfect wine to end a holiday meal, and add some cheer as loved ones open gifts.
With a wine as decadent and scrumptious as this, you won’t have to look too hard to find the perfect accompaniment. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, look no farther than lavish pairings such as chocolate, almond or walnut cakes, gingerbread or pecan pie. If your palate tends more towards a savory profile, then craft your holiday charcuterie plate up to feature rich, sumptuous cheeses such as Stilton, Gouda, or Bleu.
Contact the tasting room today to purchase our Tawny Port!
Recommended Wine Pairing: Laurel Ridge 2017 Chardonnay
Here in Oregon wine country, harvest season is a “round the clock” sort of affair. Fruit is arriving by the ton at all hours of the day and night, from all over the Willamette Valley and sometimes from as far away as Southern Oregon. A full night’s sleep is a luxury, and moment of rest are not guaranteed! When life is this busy, having delicious, filling meals is an absolute must – and let me tell you, “harvest meals” are a real thing here in the wine industry!
Meal prepping – or at least having a plan – is integral to these happy (but chaotic!) times, and is a chance to show our gratitude to our hardworking harvest crew. Our requirements for a Harvest meal is that they should be hearty, warm, seasonal, and absolutely delicious. This warm, cozy pasta has got all the components. It’s the time of dinner that invites you to sit down and relish every bite, whether you have 2 minutes, or 20. Best of all – you don’t have to be harvesting to enjoy it! It’s a great recipe for sharing, or to treat yourself to a little bit of magic on a weeknight.
There are more steps to this recipe than some we’ve posted – we recommend giving yourself a full 30 minutes to prepare this. If you’re feeling intimidated by the diced squash in this recipe, make sure to check out our instructions at the bottom for how to peel and cut a squash (I promise it isn’t nearly as hard as it looks!). Acorn squash is one of those items whose “bark” is far worse than its bite. But we promise – it is surprisingly easy to work with, and your hard work will be handsomely repaid with this delicious meal.
1 acorn squash, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup sage leaves
3 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (we love a sharp Parmesan Reggiano)
8 ounces sliced pancetta, crisped
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 pound rigatoni or penne pasta
1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.Toss cubed acorn squash in olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.
3.Meanwhile, in food processor, combine basil and sage by pulsing. Once roughly chopped, add walnuts to basil and sage and run food processor continuously until well combined, then add garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper. Set pesto mixture aside.
4.Cook your pasta until al dente, according to instruction. While cooking pasta, lightly crisp pancetta in a steel pan over medium-high heat until the edges brown.
5.In bowl, combine pasta with 1/4 cup pasta water, pesto mixture, and stir until well combined.
6.Top with roasted acorn squash, pancetta, and parmesan.
On cutting the acorn squash…
First, cut your squash in half. Using a sharp knife, begin by pushing the tip of your blade down into the middle of the squash one to two inches, and then gently apply downwards pressure – like a lever. This way you can maintain an even cut, and you do not have to worry about any slippage. Once you have cut all the way through, spin the squash and cut from the other side! Now that you’ve halved the squash, scoop out all the pulp, guts, and seeds. Next, microwave the squash (the whole thing!) for 2-3 minutes. This increases the permeability of the skin, so that it can be more easily removed. Once you remove the squash from the microwave, give it a second to cool – then using a sharp blade (always!), gently cut away the skin. From here, you’re golden – dice away!
But as always, there are a couple of options! On nights that I don’t feel like doing a ton of cooking, the pre-cubed squash packages at Trader Joe’s are cost effective, and a total lifesaver.