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FOOD FILES: Slow-cooked meals benefit from fresh ingredients

FOOD FILES: Slow-cooked meals benefit from fresh ingredients

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Dear Lisa: I appreciate your "kitchen wisdom." I have cut out the article on cooking with wine (The Eagle, July 26) for future reference and want to ask your advice. I served a new slow-cooker recipe, which had the potential to be really good, but I thought it was missing the "punch" it needed. It is chicken breasts with an Alfredo sauce (which I made); the sauce is mixed with peas, whole kernel corn, onions, garlic salt and a little pepper, poured over slightly browned chicken breasts, and slow cooked for about eight hours on low. I served it with linguini pasta. Do you think wine could be the missing ingredient needed, or some additional seasoning? And if wine, what kind? Thanks for any suggestions. -- Suzy Keller.

Dear Suzy: Your instincts are right -- I believe the recipe would benefit from some wine and additional seasonings as well.

I recommend seasoning the chicken well before browning it, and sautéing the onions with fresh minced garlic rather than using garlic salt. Garlic salt just doesn't have the same flavor punch as the real thing. If you like mushrooms, fresh ones are a natural flavor enhancer and could be added as well.

As for the wine, I would recommend sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio -- or even a light chardonnay. Half a cup or so should do it, unless the recipe uses more than 2 cups of Alfredo sauce.

You might even consider adding some fresh herbs --- perhaps basil or thyme -- near the end of cooking to really elevate the flavor. A sprinkling of Parmesan over each serving would be a good finish.

Lisa Fritz, a longtime Bryan food and nutrition educator, answers readers' questions about food, cooking and recipes. Her email address is

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Dear Lisa: When a recipe calls for shallots, is that the same thing as green onions? And do I use both the white and green part? Thank you. Kendra R.

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