Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fresh Perspective

Comfort Food for Troubled Times

(January 14, 2009) Twain Harte, CA
Stoke up the fire, pour yourself a glass of wine and cook up a pot of comfort. Comfort in food and wine is never as apparent as the winter months. I really love a combination of southern American and Italian cuisine on crisp winter evening. Corn bread and beans is a dish from my youth that is a memory of comfort. Corn is used in most parts of the world. From Italy, polenta is one of my favorite versions of corn combined with rich seasoned braised meats especially pork.
Equally comforting in these times of financial uncertainty is finding a great value and perfect match of wine for these foods. After a review of a local discount wine retailer, I discovered a wonderful pairing for a pork and polenta dinner. Sometimes the barrage of unknown labels of can be somewhat disconcerting. Don’t let that discourage you from seeking out an appropriate accompaniment to your evening meal.
I intentionally seek out of the ordinary labeling at discounted wines sales locations because often-good wines are hiding there due to the fact their label is unknown, ugly or otherwise unnoticeable. Sure there are quite a few end lot houses that have less than desirable wines because the wines have out lived their appropriate sales date due to being an old vintage. But many of these wines are still very drinkable. Are they consistent bottle to bottle? Not really, but still very drinkable.
On this occasion I discovered a very reasonably priced wine that would accompany my pork and polenta dish nicely. Now this wine is not something to just sip on all by itself as it has quite high acidity, which will make it, hold up to the food. But combine this with mouth-watering pork and a creamy rich piece of polenta to swab up the remaining sauce with, it can nearly bring tears of joy to your eyes remembering some special moment in the past that has preserved the feeling of comfort in your soul.

Brumale 2006 Sangiovese di Romagna $2.99
It’s typically Italian, An ideal quaffing wine. Ruby red with violet hues. Simple and fruity, with its soft cherry and plum fruit, fragrance, Fresh, with a good, clean finish.

Polenta and Braised Pork


500grams of polenta
2 liters of Water
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
6 cloves roasted garlic
¼ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup diced smoked mozzarella

Bring water to a boil. Whisk in polenta. Reduce heat and simmer, constantly stirring, slowly add other ingredients continue simmering and stirring for approximately 15 minutes. Pour mixture in greased pan. Smooth out top with spatula and sprinkle with more herbs and Parmesan. Let sit until set up.

Braised balsamic glazed pork with radicchio

6 pork crosscut ribs
4 heads of raddichio
6 strips of pancetta
1 med. Onion
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups white wine
1 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of oregano flowers
Extra virgin Olive oil
Salt and crushed mix peppercorns

~Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees~

Wrap ribs with pancetta and place in roasting pan

Add chopped onion, garlic. Quarter radicchio heads and place between pieces of pork. Sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper and again drizzle with olive oil. Add white wine and vinegar pouring slowly over radicchios and pork.

Place uncovered in oven for two and a half hours. Turn pork over after 1 hour and return to continue cooking.
Check periodically and add more wine if necessary. When finished there should be at least 1 cup of liquid left in roasting pan. Remove from oven and let rest for about 20 minutes

Turn oven on broil

Turn pieces of pork over and place polenta into pan with pork drizzle a tablespoon of balsamic over each piece of pork and return to oven until polenta and pork is browned. Transfer a piece of pork, radicchio and polenta cake to each plate and return roasting pan with juices to oven to reduce until slightly thickened and pour over the pork and polenta. Top with grated Parmesan and chopped rosemary. Enjoy with the Sangiovese


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