My wife and I have always had a soft spot for Jamie Oliver. Even way back in his Naked Chef days, we’ve enjoyed his unparalleled enthusiasm and energy and, of course, have picked up many cooking tips and inspiration from his television shows and books over the years. The fact that he’s become a champion of school kids getting nutritious meals along with casting a light on the relationship between eating and overall wellness just ups the “good guy” factor for us.
A couple years ago, he came out with a book called Save with Jamie, along with a television series of the same name. The concept is as it sounds: recipes that are cheap, but still wholesome and delicious. We’ve been cooking a lot from the book, and like most of his cookbooks, the recipes are easy to follow and hard to mess up.
TWICE last week we made this Pukka Yellow Curry, a bright yet warming dish with braised chicken legs in a yellow bell pepper, tomato, chick pea and ginger curry. While there’s a depth of flavour and good, earthy character, there’s virtually no spicy heat. You can feel free to go with a lighter red wine here, and if it has a touch of earthiness – all the better. We tried a little Pinot Noir with it, and everything dovetailed nicely. Konzelmann Estate Winery 2012 Pinot Noir Reserve would certainly do the trick.
Another favourite we’ve played around with is his Hungover Noodles recipe; it’s both tasty and super-quick to make. The noodles have an Asian flair to ‘em; besides garlic and ginger there’s soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and a bunch of other fun stuff (with a little broccoli and snow peas so you get your greens, too). My favourite part? You top ‘em off with a fried egg. There’s big flavour here, but also bright acidity. A wine with good acid will stand up well, but I’d ensure there’s big, juicy character to envelope all of the dish’s components. British Columbia’s Laughing Stock Vineyards has an awesome 2014 Pinot Gris with citrus and tropical fruit notes, and a wonderfully lush texture that’s kept aloft with mouth-watering acidity. I’d go with that pairing in a heartbeat.
If you enjoy cooking at home, I heartily recommend the book – the fact that it helps you save money is an added bonus, too. To poke around more of Jamie Oliver's recipes, check out his website, it has a good dose of them. The money you save on food can go straight to picking up a little wine!
Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. Track him down at KurtisKolt.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @KurtisKolt