Whip up a spring dinner that’s both satisfying and fresh. And we’ve got the perfect cocktail to match.
Hosting a small group for an informal dinner always poses the same dilemma — what to serve that is outstanding, but will not keep me in the kitchen cooking instead of enjoying the company of my guests. I like to prepare dishes that are comforting and memorable for their simplicity and spectacular taste. A couple of weeks ago, I picked a Colorado local favorite and Italian classic dish: the Frico Caldo. I decided to pair it with the Farmer’s Daughter cocktail from Allie Anderson, the talented bar manager at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO.
The Frico Caldo is hard to describe. Some call it a potato and cheese pancake, but it is so much more. It’s a delicate layer of perfectly textured potatoes flooded in a gentle sheet of melted Montasio cheese. This version is topped with fresh shallots and arugula in a crisp sherry vinegar dressing and studded with pomegranate seeds. The traditional Frico Caldo recipe calls for a cilantro pesto instead of the arugula.
The beauty of making this dish for a party is that it can be prepared and portioned ahead of time. You just need to shape it into a pancake and sear it before serving. The cheese-and-potato mixture is a satisfying combination, and balanced out by the fresh flavors of the arugula salad on top.
Since it’s springtime, I wanted a bright and green cocktail to pair with the Frico Caldo, something citrusy and spicy. Pairing Friulian food, like Frico Caldo, with drinks generally means sticking to the spectacular Friulian wines that the region produces. The Farmer’s Daughter cocktail attempts to mimic some of the floral flavors of Friulian white wines with the elderflower syrup, but adds a delicate herbaceous flavor that goes well with the gin in the drink.
The Farmer’s Daughter
(Makes 1 serving)
1 ounce CapRock Gin
1 ounce elderflower syrup (find at food specialty stores)
1/2 ounce Peak Spirits Pear Eau de Vie
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water)
2 cucumber slices, 1/4 inch thick, skin on
4 sprigs of parsley
Strip of cucumber peel for garnish
Muddle the cucumber slices and parsley in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and the rest of the ingredients, minus the garnish. Shake well for 10 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and harnish with a twisted strip of cucumber peel.
1 large (about 9 ounces) Yukon Gold potato
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large onion, peeled and minced
4 ounces grated aged Montasio cheese
Pinch of salt
Grated nutmeg to taste
Poach potato in a medium pot with salted water over medium heat until tender (this may take up to 45 minutes to 1 hour). Remove potato and cool slightly. Peel and crush potato into small pieces without mashing.
Heat butter in saute pan on medium heat. Add onions to the pan. Slightly sweat onions until translucent and sweet.
Combine onion, potato and remaining ingredients (except oil) in a large mixing bowl without over-mixing.
Heat a heavy pan on high heat. Lightly oil pan. Form add half of the potato mixture into a pancake and cook on one side 5 minutes, until golden brown. Using a spatula, flip the Frico cook 5 minutes more. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Cut Frico into wedges and serve with the dressing below and the cocktail above.
1/3 cup arugula
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
Sherry vinegar to taste
Salt to taste
Mix everything together and serve on top of the Frico Caldo.