Oscar-Winning Party Pairings

Whip up these Wolfgang Puck dishes at your Academy Award-viewing party and your guests will feel like they’re at the Governors Ball.


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You may not be invited to the glitzy Governors Ball—the longstanding food fest following the Academy Awards—but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat like an A-lister. To help you bring home Ball bites, Wine Enthusiast tapped top-notch chef Wolfgang Puck for the recipes he’ll be serving up at this year’s coolest dinner party. Easy to prepare and definitely delectable, these three pairings will ensure that your guests will be wined and dined like celebs this Sunday, February 24.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Black Truffles

Recipe courtesy Wolfgang Puck 

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season pasta water
Vegetable oil, to oil sheet pan
8 ounces macaroni
6 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3½ cups milk
½ medium white onion, chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped black truffle (substitute 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh wild mushrooms if truffles are unavailable)
1 bay leaf 
10 ounces aged sharp white Cheddar, grated, divided
3 ounces Gruyère, grated
1 ounce Parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 drops black winter truffle oil
1 pinch cayenne 2 slices brioche, finely-pulsed in a food processor to make 1 cup bread crumbs 
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Sliced fresh black truffles, for garnish (optional)

Preheat an oven to 350˚F.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the macaroni to al dente, approximately 7 minutes.  Strain the pasta, and place it on a lightly oiled sheet pan.

In a separate pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat, and whisk in the flour.  Continue to cook over low heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk, onion, truffle and bay leaf.  Simmer for 10 minutes; then remove and discard the onion and bay leaf.

Turn off the heat and add ¾ of the Cheddar, plus all of the Gruyère and Parmesan.  Season the mixture with 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper, plus the truffle oil and cayenne. Fold the macaroni into the cheese sauce, and pour the contents into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with the remaining Cheddar. 

In a sauté pan set over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Add to the pan the bread crumbs and parsley, and toss the ingredients so they become evenly coated with the butter. Top the macaroni with the bread crumb mixture. Place the casserole dish in the preheated oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, and let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh-shaved black truffles. Serves 4.

Pour: Pierre Péters’ 2005 Chétillons Blanc de Blancs is opulent enough to match the richness of this cheesy dish, yet it also has enough acidic cut to keep the palate refreshed. Its toasty flavor plays off the macaroni’s topping of brioche bread crumbs.

Prime Mini Burgers with Cheddar Cheese and Remoulade

Recipe courtesy Wolfgang Puck 

¾ pound prime ground beef, such as Kobe 
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste 
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 small slices of Cheddar
12 mini sesame brioche buns
Remoulade, to taste (recipe below) 
12 arugula leaves, for garnish

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into 12 slices, for garnish
3 cornichons, cut into 12 slices, for garnish

Preheat a grill or a grill pan to approximately 350˚F–400˚F.

Put the ground beef in a medium-size bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Mix with
your hands to combine. Take a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of the ground beef, and roll it
in the palm of your hand as to make meatballs. Flatten the top of the meatball slightly to make a mini burger patty, and then place it on a holding plate. Repeat until all of the ground beef has been shaped. Drizzle the patties with the olive oil, and season the tops and bottoms of the patties with salt and pepper. 

Place the burgers on the preheated grill, and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the burgers over with tongs, and place a slice of Cheddar on top of each burger, allowing it to melt. While the cheese is melting, put the buns on the grill. Let them toast slightly on both sides, about 2 minutes in total. Remove the buns and the burgers to separate holding plates.

Put the toasted buns on a platter. On each buns’ top half, place a small spoonful of the remoulade. Put the burger on the bottom half of the bun, followed by an arugula leaf, a slice of tomato and a slice of cornichon. Enclose the burger with the top half of the bun. Makes 12 mini burgers.

Remoulade: 

¾ cup store-bought or house-made Thousand Island dressing
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
Diced red onion, to taste  
Combine the Thousand Island dressing with the barbecue sauce and diced red onion. Stir to combine.

Pour: Storybook’s 2009 Eastern Exposures Zinfandel from Napa Valley has savory flavors of Indian spices and smoky sandalwood that mesh with the remoulade’s barbecue element, and the palate has enough body to handle the power of the grilled beef. 

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pops

Recipe courtesy Wolfgang Puck 

8 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, chopped
½ cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
1 cup puffed-rice cereal

Cover the surface of a baking sheet with wax paper, and arrange 24 lollipop sticks 2 inches apart on the paper.

Put the chocolate in a dry microwave-safe mixing bowl, and place it in a microwave. Set the microwave to 50% power, and heat for 30 seconds. Repeat until the chocolate is mostly melted, about 3 minutes.

With a dry rubber spatula or spoon, stir the chocolate until smooth. Add the peanut butter and cereal, and gently fold together until the mixture is thoroughly blended.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture onto 1 end of each lollipop stick. Chill the pops on the baking sheet in a refrigerator until the chocolate has set, at least 1 hour.

Wrap each pop individually in plastic wrap or cellophane, and store them in a cool place until serving. Makes 24 pops.

Pour: The chocolate and peanut butter flavors in these pops crave to be matched with a dessert wine that is decadent and nutty. Try a vin doux naturel like Mas Amiel’s NV Cuvée Spéciale 10 Ans d’Âge from Maury in Languedoc-Roussillon.

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