Pork medallions & CuvĂ©e de Ranke

pork medaillions april 2009Inspired by the pork medallions that Noskos fired up, I tried my hand at these nice little bacon-wrapped goodies last saturday. Noskos’ version was rubbed with a cajun rub. Mine was rubbed with a sweeter rub of brown sugar with a dash of garlic salt, onion salt, ground ginger, paprika and of course some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. The bacon was salted bacon, so the salt in the rub was kept low. These were first seared directly over a fire of lump, coconut briquettes and a chunk of grape vine wood. After a quick sear they were cooked indirect until the meat firmed up a bit. It was the first time using grape vine with a thick cut of pork. Unlike in a previous post “through the grape vine,” the wood went very well with the sweet rubbed pork. Of course since this was just grilled rather than smoked, the smoke was subtle.

I also made a quick sauce to accompany the pork. It was a bit of a last minute decision but it turned out well. I took a left over piece of the thickly cut bacon, chopped it up and sauteed it with a large shallot. To this I added about 20cl of light blond beer (which I rather not name) and cooked it down quite a bit. Then I added about one tablespoon of the left over rub, some heavy cream, and a 1/2 tablespoon of strong dijon mustard.

To drink with the pork I had a bottle of Cuvee de Ranke. A nice smooth musty sour with fruity edges that went extremely well with the sweet pork and salty bacon. A truly wonderful combination! Perhaps one of the better food pairings that I have had in quite a long time, unless you count the treats that Glenn cooked up for the Pre-ZBF gathering at Alvinne. Next time I will also use this in the sauce in place of the unamed blond lager, and that will no doubt take the sauce from being good to being stellar!

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through the grape vine

grapevinewood1I haven’t posted anything about grilling or smoking yet, so here is a quickie.

I have been using some of the grape vine wood chunks that my brother-in-law bought as a gift for me a while back. At the time I had never heard of using this for smoking or grilling (apparently its very popular in France and Italy for grilling). The first time I really tried to use it for cooking I was taken back by how good it was. I used it to smoke a couple chickens. The flavor went extremely well with chicken. It also went well in a mix with apple wood for some ribs (mostly apple with a little grape vine). For poultry, it is now perhaps my favorite wood. On Sunday I tried a quick test with some steaks on the grill. As I was getting the coals ready I placed one chunk of the grape vine wood on the coals and let it burn down a little. I then seared the steaks over the coals and wood and then cooked them indirect. The grapevine wood didn’t quite work with the steaks. I guess Oak and Hickory are still the best for that task. The steaks were still good, but the wood choice didn’t really seem right. I guess no real surprises there though. I’ll have to try it with fish next, that should be good.