I was looking for a “transitional dish”. You know what I’m talking about. Summer is fading into the rearview mirror, yet the robust days of football Sunday and frost on the pumpkin have yet to arrive. I wanted a dish outside of “grill food”, yet didn’t have “weight” of a full-on slow-cooked stew. This dish hit the perfect chord. Splendid flavors, balanced over a lighter and fresher iteration of pasta.
The wine choice was easy for me. Cru Beaujolais has to be the best bargain coming from Burgundy. Yes! Beaujolais is a region of Burgundy! Yes, the grapes in Beaujolais are different from upper Burgundy – Gamay instead of Pinot Noir. But at the “Cru” level, Gamay reaches a level or flavor unseen anywhere else in Beaujolais, and the best expressions rival the wines of the Côte de Beaune. Excellent flavors, yet without bulk, which is why this wine is meant for this dish!
Yeah, but Dept… Many wines, white and red, would work with this dish… the easiest path to follow would have been to recommend a wine from Sicily. Or, at least a wine from Italy? I get it. But there is no need to restrict wine choice to a common regional source. Yes, wines from Mt. Etna would be a choice. On the whites side: Vernaccia from Tuscany would be a terrific choise. Or Verdelho from Spain. And White Côte du Rhône. And don’t overlook a “crayon box” filled with the medium-bodied reds that cross over to lighter meat dishes… Sancerre Rouge from the Loire, Valpolicella from Veneto and Dolcetto from Piedmont.
Jean-François Coquard Morgon “Les Charmes” ’16 (Beaujolais,
Well known among the Crus of Beaujolais, wines of Morgon are generally prized due to their richness and longevity (perhaps only rivaled by those from Moulin-á-vent). This example illustrates the more graceful side of Morgon, as its name (Les Charmes) suggests. Gentle, elegant and seamless, the wine is beautiful rather than powerful. Berry fruit dances with herbal spice and the long, smooth finish lures you towards another sip.
SICILIAN PORK W/SPAGHETTI
6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
1 pork tenderloin (1¼ to 1½ pounds), trimmed
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp fennel seeds, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup pine nuts
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for topping
8 oz spaghetti
1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size. Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming. Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!
2. Preheat the oven to 425°. Brush the pork with 1 tbsp olive oil; season with ½ tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp parsley and the fennel seeds, pressing to adhere.
3. Heat remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large ovenproof non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, turning ‘til browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Scatter the garlic, tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts around the pork. Cook, stirring ‘til the tomatoes are slightly softened, about 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle cheese over the pork, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145°, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest; reserve the tomato mixture in the skillet.
4. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook as the label directs. Drain, then add the spaghetti to the tomato mixture along with the remaining parsley; season with salt and toss. Top with cheese. Slice pork and serve with the pasta.
n.b. Instead of grated Romano cheese to top the spaghetti, I use freshly shaved Parmesan.