To make it easy to slice the bacon thinly, freeze the bacon strips for about 10 minutes before slicing. Kevin Gillespie, executive chef/co-owner, Woodfire Grill, Atlanta, Yield: 4 servings Chef Gillespie pairs the Brussels sprouts with wood-grilled local bob white quail on Woodfire Grill’s winter menu. roaSted BruSSeL SproutS with carameLized ham, pecanS, and cranBerry purée 1 lb. Brussels sprouts 1/2 c. dried cranberries 1/2 c. red wine vinegar 1/4 c. sugar 1 cinnamon stick Salt, to taste 1 c. country ham, chopped small 1/4 c. toasted pecan pieces 1/2 c. chicken stock Butter, as needed Black pepper, to taste 1 sprig tarragon, leaves picked Sandra Simile, executive chef, Lynmar Estate, Yield: 12 8-oz. servings 4 strips thick-cut smoked bacon, sliced thinly 5 c. onion, chopped 2 T. olive oil 1 T. garlic, minced 8 c. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes 8 c. chicken stock, hot 1/4 c. fresh lemon thyme, finely chopped Salt and pepper, to taste Butternut SquaSh Soup with Lemon thyme and Smoked Bacon Method (1) Place the bacon in a 10” skillet, and sauté on medium-low heat until crispy. Reserve the bacon and 2 T. bacon fat. (2) Sauté the onion in olive oil and reserved bacon fat over medium heat in a 5-qt. pot for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, and sauté 1 minute more. Add the squash, and cook 3 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add hot stock slowly; simmer for 45 minutes (or until the squash is very soft). Add the lemon thyme and cook 5 minutes more. (3) Purée in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Salt and pepper to taste. (4) Ladle into warm soup bowls, and sprinkle about 1/2 T. bacon on each bowl. Serve hot. Wine pairing: Lynmar Estate Pinot Noir 2007 (California) is an elegant, red berry-filled Pinot Noir with notes of herbs and sweet oak that will sing with the savory squash and smoky bacon in this hearty soup. Method (1) Peel Brussels sprouts of tough outer leaves, and discard. Peel down until you reach hard white cores. Keep all tender inner leaves, and discard cores. (2) Add cranberries to a pot with vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 c. water. Simmer, covered, until cranberries are completely rehydrated. Remove cinnamon, season with salt and purée in a blender until smooth. Keep until ready to use. (3) Add ham to a heavy-bottomed pan, and cook over low heat until very deeply caramelized. Add Brussels sprouts, and sauté until vibrant green. Add pecans; toss to incorporate. (4) Pour off any fat in the pan, and add chicken stock. Stir to remove caramelized bits from bottom of pan. Reduce by half, and add a spoonful of butter. Stir vigorously to incorporate, and season with salt and pepper. (5) Add tarragon, and toss to combine. Serve drizzled with cranberry purée. Wine pairing: The spice box and cherry flavors of St. Clair Pinot Noir “Vicar’s Choice” 2008 (New Zealand) are a perfect match for the earthiness of the Brussels sprouts, country ham and cranberries. National Mango Board, Yield: 12 side dish servings 4 c. long-grain white rice 2 c. water 1 3/4 c. light coconut milk 3 T. sugar Salt, to taste 1 c. raisins Scant 1 c. toasted almond slices 2 mangos, peeled, pitted and diced mango coconut rice Method (1) Place rice, 2 c. water, coconut milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring rice to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally until the water has evaporated to just below the level of the rice and little holes begin to form on the surface. Reduce heat to the lowest setting, cover saucepan, and continue to cook until the rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. (2) Fluff rice with a fork and stir in raisins. Cover saucepan, and let it sit off the heat until raisins are plump and warm, about 10 minutes. (3) To serve, sprinkle rice with toasted almonds and diced mango. Wine pairing: St. Supery Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (California) is a lovely, tropical fruited Sauv Blanc with flavors of melon, nectarine and mango to match this sweet, exotic take on rice. The tropical spin on rice pilaf pairs well with seafood, poultry or pork. 38 | Chef