Instinctual Evidence

At this point I really should just follow my instincts.

I read a recipe, think, “Well, that’s not going to work;” but, intrigued, try it anyway. And then it doesn’t work.

Last night it was a romanesco-calabaza gratin. Baked “uncovered” for 30 minutes, then topped with cheesy-nutty breadcrumbs and baked for another 30, I was sure the top layer of veg would never soften adequately without covering for the first half of baking to allow a bit of steaming. End result, it was edible–almost delicious–but it could have been softer.

My instincts paid off with the main course for my menu project though. Although I didn’t love the way this dish photographed, the flavor was outstanding. Read the back story here.

Roasted Pork Loin, stuffed with Beer & Vinegar Braised Cabbage
Yield: 8 Servings

For the Pork
3-4 lb. Pork Loin
2 T coarse mustard
S+P
20 g Neutral oil

For the Cabbage Stuffing
200g Vidalia onion, emincer
1 t. caraway seeds
½ t celery seeds
1 small head green cabbage, sliced in ½” strips
1 small head red cabbage, sliced in ½“ strips
100g carrots, julienne
4 oz cider vinegar
12 oz Unibroue Ephemere Ale
Pinch of sugar
20g butter, Salt & pepper

For the Sauce
Pork trimmings (including bacon rind removed from salad lardon)
100 g onions, mirepoix
2 garlic cloves, smashed
400 g tomatoes, quartered
30 g bourbon or rye
1000 g pork stock
5 g Chervil, hacher
5 g Parsley, hacher

For the Gastrique
85 g brown sugar
85 g cider vinegar

For the Pork Stock
6 lbs. pork bones
450 g onions
450 g carrots
3 celery stalks
50 g tomato paste
225 g tomato scraps
100 g mushroom trim
80 g leek greens
½ head garlic
Bouquet garni

For the Stock

  1. Roast the bones in an oven set to 375º until golden, stirring occasionally and making sure sucs don’t brown too quickly.
  2. Add onions and carrots and continue to roast until starting to caramelize.
  3. In a large pot, sauté leek and mushrooms until caramelized, add tomato paste and cook for several minutes. Add tomato scrap & let the juices reduce significantly.
  4. Add roasted veg and bones & cover with water. Add bouquet and bring to a boil. Simmer for 6 hours, adding water as necessary to keep submerged. Skim as needed. Strain and chill.

For the Stuffing & Pork

  1. Sweat onions in neutral oil until translucent and just starting to color.
  2. Add seeds and allow the flavors to bloom for a few seconds
  3. Add carrots and cabbage and sauté briefly.
  4. Add ale, vinegar & sugar and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to simmer & cook until the cabbage is tender.
  6. If necessary, pour out excess liquid & add butter, sautéing to coat cabbage.
  7. Place in a colander and allow to drain while it cools. Set aside.
  8. Butterfly the pork loin, season both sides with salt and pepper and then brush just the inside with mustard.
  9. Layer the cooked cabbage on the loin, leaving a ½” boarder and roll loin back into shape. Secure with butcher’s string.
  10. Sear all sides of the roast in a pan with neutral oil.
  11. Place in the oven preheated to 375º and roast until a thermometer inserted in the center of the roast reads 145º.
  12. Remove from the oven and let rest before slicing. Deglaze pan with stock and add back to sauce.

For the Sauce

  1. Brown pork trimmings and bacon rind.
  2. Add mirepoix and garlic and caramelize. Degrease and flambé with bourbon.
  3. Add tomatoes and allow them to release their juice and reduce.
  4. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and reinforce for at least 30 minutes. Strain.
  5. In a separate pan, melt brown sugar until it reaches a dark caramel.
  6. Add vinegar to deglaze and cook until combined.
  7. Bring reinforced stock to a boil, reduce to nappant. Add gastrique bit by bit until a balanced flavor is achieved. Add herbs.

 Heirloom Bean Salad with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

4 cups Eye of the Goat beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
15 g Worcestershire
2 bay leaves
1 onion, split in half
400 g plum tomatoes
1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
30 g Cider Vinegar
15 g Dark brown sugar
15 g Mustard
85 g Neutral oil, plus more for tomatoes
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered appropriately4 Green onions, sliced on the bias
Salt and black pepper
5 g Chervil, hacher

  1. Rinse the beans and cover with fresh water in a russe along with bay leaves and onion.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 ½ hours.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare dressing by slicing plum tomatoes in half, tossing with oil, salt and pepper and placing upside down on a sheet tray.
  4. Roast tomatoes in an oven set to 300ºF for about one hour. Remove from oven and allow them to come to room temperature.
  5. Place in a food processor along with garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.
  6. Strain and then slowly drizzle in oil, either whisking by hand or returned to the processor on low, to create an emulsion.
  7. When the beans are ready, drain and toss the hot beans in the dressing. Chill.
  8. Add the tomatoes, green onions and chervil, toss, adjust seasoning and chill.

 Pommes Rissolées

 4 Starchy Potatoes
Neutral Oil
Butter

  1. Cut potatoes into spheres with a melon baller.
  2. Just cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
  3. As soon as the water comes to a boil, strain and allow potatoes a few minutes to dry out.
  4. Sauté potatoes in neutral oil until golden. Degrease.
  5. Add butter and finish in an oven set to 375º.

 For Service

  1. Place bean salad in the center of a plate. Lay a few slices of pork atop, nap with the sauce and place a few rissoléed potatoes around the plate.

 Drink Pairing

 Unibroue Ephemere Apple (white ale brewed with green apple must)

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