Mango Chicken Curry (paired with Hogue Riesling)

A few weeks ago, I attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. As I was browsing through the tents full of $5 books, I was lucky enough to come across this gem of a cookbook: Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken. Not only are the recipes arranged by season so that you can theoretically buy all the ingredients for them in farmers markets, but there is also a wine pairing glossary in the very back that tells you what wines to drink with every single recipe, along with flavor profile for each wine that explains why it pairs so well.

I pretty much died and went to cookbook heaven.

In the Spring section, there is a recipe for "Thai Green Curry With Chicken and Asparagus." I borrowed a few elements from that recipe, and combined them with a few elements from another recipe I found off the Allrecipes website, and voilà! An excellent rendition of one of my favorite dishes was born.

Next, I needed to find a wine to go with it. The Williams-Sonoma cookbook was suggesting a light German wine with high acidity to balance the spiciness. I was originally hoping for a Gewürztraminer, but as luck would have it, they were all out of that varietal at the wine shop down the street from my apartment. Thankfully, the manager over at District Wine was able to suggest a nice, light Riesling from Washington State, and it turned out to be the perfect combination. 

2009 Hogue Riesling ($8.99 at BevMo)
According to my Wine Bible, all the rainfall that is typically associated with the state of Washington happens in the western part, leaving the eastern half of Washington with an average rainfall of only 6 inches per year! It is in this drier part of the state that all of the vineyards are located, and over the past few decades, Washington has made quite a name for itself in the wine-making industry. 

Rieslings generally have a low alcohol content with fruity flavors and high acidity. They can be either dry or sweet, which is characterized by the amount of residual sugar in each bottle. Anything under 2 percent residual sugar is considered a dryer Riesling, and anything over that is considered sweet. Some German dessert Rieslings can have upwards of 30 percent residual sugar.

The Hogue Riesling from Columbia Valley has only 2 percent, giving it a perfect balance of sweetness and crispness. The flavors of apricots noted in the wine also apired nicely with the mangoes and the coconut milk-base of the curry sauce. With mangoes being in season and currently on sale at most grocery stores, go grab some and give this recipe a whirl!

                                          Mango Chicken Curry
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp. red curry paste (you can find this at Whole Foods)
2 Tbsp. Asian fish sauce (you can find this at Whole Foods)
2 tsp. grated ginger root
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 mangoes, chopped and peeled
14 oz. can lite coconut milk
2 Tbsp. tomato paste

Put two cups of water on to boil in a sauce pan. Once it starts boiling, add the brown rice, reduce it to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.

Saute onion and red pepper in canola oil until softened. Add the chicken and cook until it is browned on both sides, seasoning with black pepper as you stir it. Add the curry paste, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, and cayenne. Stir and continue cooking for about 5 minutes on med-low heat. next, stir in the mangoes, coconut milk, and tomato paste, then reduce heat, and let the sauce simmer until the rice is finished cooking.

Top each serving of rice with the curry sauce, and enjoy!