Sea, Smoke & Chenin Blanc – Pairing Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards’ Méthode Ancestrale with Smoked Angelfish

Author & Photographer: Georgia East

The oldest and most natural way of producing sparkling wine, Méthode Ancestrale produces a softer, finer bubble designed for elegant sipping. This style of sparkling wine originated in 16th century France, where monks would produce wine for religious ceremonies. Here in South Africa’s Swartland region, Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards are preserving this tradition for the enjoyment of bubbly lovers all over the country.

What sets a Méthode Ancestrale apart from an MCC is that the second fermentation isn’t activated by adding sugar and yeast as with Champagne and Méthode Cap Classique. Instead, the wine is bottled with its naturally occurring grape sugars – at the optimal level – and left to wild ferment within the bottle. The Méthode Ancestrale is left on the lees beneath a crown cap before being riddled and disgorged. This style of winemaking produces a light, easy drinking wine that rivals Pet Nat – perfect for enjoying over a light lunch or with canapés.

Unmistakeably Swartland, Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyard’s decision to utilise Chenin Blanc for their Méthode Ancestrale provides the wine with a fruit-driven vibrancy, ideal for pairing with richer flavours like these croquettes made with smoked angelfish.

Smoked Angelfish Croquettes

Crispy and smoky, these easy angelfish croquettes are delicious as a starter with Leeuwenkuil’s Méthode Ancestrale Chenin Blanc.

Prep time: 1 hour /Cook time: 15 mins /Makes: 10-15 croquettes

You will need:

  • 500g flaked smoked angelfish
  • 1-2 large potatoes, peeled, boiled, mashed and chilled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 200g smoked cheese, cubed
  • 250ml plain flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 250ml white breadcrumbs
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

For the harissa aioli:

  • 300ml good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste

In a mixing bowl, combine the flaked angelfish with the mashed potatoes. Add in the herbs and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and set aside. Using clean hands, take roughly a heaped tablespoonful of the mixture and roll it into a ball that can fit within the palm of your hand. Press a well into the middle of the ball and place a cube of cheese into the centre. Close up the ball and shape as desired.

Dip each croquette first in the beaten egg, then in the flour and finally in the breadcrumbs.

Arrange the croquettes on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Once chilled, remove the croquettes from the fridge and heat up about 6cm of sunflower oil in a deep-frying pan. Working in batches, fry the croquettes, taking care not to crowd the pan. The croquettes should only require a few minutes on each side to brown. Once golden and crispy, drain the croquettes on a kitchen towel and sprinkle over some sea salt. 

For the harissa aioli, use an immersion blender to blend the garlic into the mayonnaise. Stir through the harissa paste and serve with the croquettes and chilled glasses of Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards’ Méthode Ancestrale Chenin Blanc.

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