sweet onion, andouille, mushroom, peas, chevre, pecorino foam
double-cut niman ranch pork chop
cayenne-allspice rub, baby kiwi panzanella, roasted brussel sprouts, thyme-butter pan jus
About three weeks ago, I had a glass of Beaujolais Villages at COCO500 that completely blew me away. Unlike the light, fruity, thirst quenching style of Beaujolais Nouveau, the glass of wine I had was deep and dense, evocative of a brooding but acidic Pinot Noir... really incredible stuff. It was the first time I'd ever had Beaujolais of this style, and I was completely captivated. That weekend, I picked up this bottle of 2004 Jean-Paul Brun L'Ancien old vine Beaujolais (notice it is only 12% alcohol). This wine didn't have quite the depth or core of dark fruit, but instead struck a more even balance between ripe, mature fruit with a sturdy backbone of acidity. Very low in tannic structure, and with a lightly floral accent... a versatile wine that works well with or without food. And a good value for $15.
Tonight, I had two specific things I wanted to try: pecorino foam and a panzanella spiked with little bits of baby kiwi.
For the pecorino foam, I first made a red wine risotto with some of the Beaujolais. This was originally going to be a regular risotto, but when I was in the middle of sweating the sweet onion, I realized we had no chicken stock or broth on hand. So I went with the red wine to add more depth of flavor to the dish... turned out to be a good call. The fruit driven tang of the red wine paired beautifully with the sharp but creamy flavor of the foam. I made the foam with a simple emulsion of scalded milk and shaved pecorino, aerated by an immersion blender. I think it was stable because of the temperature and the milk solids. Not as refined as a gas cartridge-based foam, but more than sufficient.
The panzanella with baby kiwi would be served alongside a beautiful double cut Niman Ranch pork chop (which we shared... man that's a lot of meat!) that had been brined overnight. This was probably the juiciest, most flavorful pork chop I've ever made... a result of having a nearly 2-inch thick cut of high quality meat seared in the pan, then roasted on the bone. I had some serious doubts as to whether the sweetness of the baby kiwi would clash with the tomato in the panzanella, but it turned out to be a very successful combination, particularly paired with the rich taste and mouthfeel of the pork.
My flavor combinations have been somewhat confused... really just a bit out of whack for the past couple of meals. This simple meal of more intuitive flavors brings back a little bit of focus for me.
simple pecorino foam
one cup of whole milk
3/4 cup of freshly grated pecorino romano
heat the milk in a small pot until just scalded. do not boil. add grated pecorino and remove from heat. whisk until blended. vigorous whisking while returning the pot to the stove over medium heat immediately after the addition of the pecorino may induce a bubble-over effect that will naturally create the foam, but you need to be careful not to burn the milk solids and cheese. alternatively, pour the contents into a smaller container and use an immersion blender to establish the foam consistency. use immediatly while still very warm.
there are more sophisticated ways of creating foams with superior stability and a finer, creamier texture, but most require tools and ingredients that are not readily available in the average home kitchen.
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