Earlier this week, I was told about an amazing dinner that was developed and prepared by Executive Chef Chris Wofford of the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas.
My daughter and son-in-law attended the dinner to celebrate their anniversary. Knowing they would be tasting some wonderful beverages, they arranged for me to pick them up following the dinner. What they didn’t know was the beverage was bourbon. Seven different bourbons!
Chef Chris Wofford paired each bourbon with a different course, so by the time I picked them up, they were stuffed and had enjoyed just about as much bourbon as they could deal with!
At Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery, we are certainly familiar with pairing wine with food, but I wouldn’t know where to begin with bourbon. Here is what Chef Chris came up with:
Upon arrival, the guests were served two fingers of Makers Mark. After “two fingers” I would need a bed!
First course arrived and to everyone’s delight, they discovered all courses featured wild game and bourbon. They began with a Rabbit Confit with Wild Mushroom and Sharp Cheddar Johnny Cakes, served with another two fingers of Bulleit Bourbon, described as having hints of oak and spice with notes of vanilla and honey. YUM! Particularly the Rabbit Confit! Both Cindy and Dennis felt it was the best part of the evening.
Next came the Roasted Breast of Pheasant with Wild Greens and a Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette. This course was served with, yes, another 2 fingers of bourbon….this time it was Bakers Bourbon, noted for the flavors of toasted nuts, fruit, and vanilla with a silky texture.
I should tell you that the dinner took 4 hours, and the diners did eat large amounts of food, in case you were wondering!
When Course #3 was served, it was Red Deer Flank Steak with Venison Sausage, accompanied with Hoppin’ John, and Raspberry BBQ Sauce. The Knob Creek Bourbon was rich, sweet, woody, full-bodied, almost fruity and of course, two finger’s worth!
2 more to go!....The Forth course was Rack of Wild Boar, one of my favorite meats! It was served with Three Peppercorn Hominy Grits, Blackberry Molasses Gastrique. (Wondering about the word “gastrique”? That is a French term meaning to form a glaze by reduction. Gastrique is a thick sauce produced by a reduction of vinegar or wine, sugar, and usually fruit.) This course was accompanied by Basil Hayden Bourbon which is said to be spicy, peppery, with a hint of honey. It is light-bodied with a gentle bite. I’m not sure how any bourbon can be described as having a gentle bite! I would think by now the lining of their esophagi would be gone!
Alas, we come to the Fifth and Final Course. Chef Chris had prepared Pecan and Chocolate Cigars! He chose Bookers Bourbon as the final drink because it is intense with hints of fruit, tannins and tobacco.
Speaking of tobacco, there was a gentleman there who hand rolls excellent cigars and he brought one for each guest. Dennis, being a smart son-in-law, put his out before he got in my car.
Both Cindy and Dennis were very happy on the drive home. They enjoyed their celebration and loved every course. They discussed the different wild game, what they liked best, what they liked least, how the bourbon worked with the game. In a nutshell, they loved it all!
So, back to “gastrique”….You may prefer a blood orange gastrique, or maybe just a simple lemon gastrique, both excellent with seafood. But to me, the wild boar sounds wonderful with the Blackberry Molasses, so, here is a recipe for you.
Blackberry Molasses Gastrigue
1 cup fresh blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
To prepare, place berries in a small, heavy saucepan; partially mash with a fork. Stir in sugar, vinegar, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Drizzle on slices of Roasted Pork for an “almost” wild boar!
What would you serve with your Boar and Blackberry Molasses Gastrique? You could go with the simplicity of Mashed Potatoes, or maybe you want to go with Italian Polenta. How about good old Southern Cornbread Dressing? The richness of the meat with the sauce could definitely carry a starch. The chef served another typical Southern specialty, Grits. Great idea.
Hope you try a gastrique soon. With an arsenal of sauces perfected, you can make a perfect dinner!
By the way, my liquid refreshment was a Diet Coke from Sonic Drive-in. It was delicious!