how to use stone fruits in savory cooking and why it seems to have an affinity for meats
plus making a gastrique out of the surplus of Finnish berries
the height of summer also marks the appearance of the so-called stone fruits. A term used for fruits with an outer fleshy part encasing a single hard shell (like a stone) with a seed inside. This umbrella of fruits include peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries and even the exotic mango. It’s nature’s signal to start propagating by bearing fruits in which it stores its best insurance policy of survival- the seed.
Coincidentally, we seem to enjoy the summer months in the company of beer (and ciders), salads and the barbecue (open flame or charcoal grilling). Such timing has inevitably led to the inclusion of stone fruits in numerous meals in the course of the whole summer.
Be it in the salads, on the grill or refreshing punch bowls, stone fruits are always welcome in most food preparations.
But of all the countless things we can do to stone fruits, my go-to is to always pair it with bold meaty flavors since the tart acidity and varying sweetness provide such a great contrast.
For this, making a chutney out of these seasonal wonders is always a great technique to apply. One, the addition of spices and herbs creates an interesting depth of flavor that further makes the pairing with meat 100x better. Another is that since the season will always have too many to consume immediately, making a chutney (or other preserves) is a great way to extend one’s enjoyment of the sun’s flavor throughout the year.
This week, I made an apricot chutney in which I happily tossed in a can of mandarin that’s waiting to be disposed of from my cupboard. Primarily flavored with ginger, it seemed fitting that I eat it with some mean-tasty pork.
Apricot-Ginger Chutney (something that should be done in advance)
500gms apricot, pitted, chopped
350gms mandarin, drained weight (fresh is of course welcome)
100gms white sugar
50ml white vinegar
30gms ginger, minced (or just crushed if you wanna take it out later)
1 stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
dried mandarin peel, optional
salt to taste
combine everything in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer then cook for around 20-40 minutes depending on the thickness you prefer. (mine too 40 minutes since I want a thicker chutney. leave to cool then transfer into your bottle.
Pork tongue happens to be available in my nearest market, so I obliged. Braised it with black tea and some other spices and boom.
Braised Pork Tongue
500gms pork tongue
50gms red onion, sliced
30ml soy sauce
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 stick cinnamon
2 star anise
2pcs bay leaf
1tsp of whole black peppercorn
1tsp fennel seeds
1 teabag of black tea
for blanching the tongue
50ml white vinegar
first, blanch the pork tongues by snugly fitting it inside a sauce pan, add in the vinegar, salt and water to cover. Bring to a boil, continue boiling for 5 minutes then drain and rinse the tongues with cold water.
return tongue pieces into the sauce pan. Add all the other ingredients and water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer (with lid) for at least 50 minutes. Check for tenderness, and leave to cool inside the pan WITH THE STOCK. (doing so will ensure that the tongues stay moist and juicy) this can be cooled overnight.
after the meat has cooled down, take it out of the broth, peel each tongue (discard the outer skin of the tongue) and neatly slice into mini steak-like pieces. keep aside while we finish the sauce.
now, I happen to have this blueberry gastrique which I made several weeks back and so I decided to make a Pork and Blueberry Jus out of the remaining pork stock.
for the Blueberry gastrique:
300gms blueberries (frozen are ok)
200ml white vinegar
100gms white sugar
100ml blueberry liquor (or concentrate)
slightly caramelize the sugar in a pan, then when lightly colored, add in the rest of the ingredients. simmer until the liquid has turned into syrup consistency. use to as needed.
for the Pork-Blueberry Jus
simply reduce the strained remaining stock with a couple of spoonful of the gastrique (quantity will depend on how acidic you wat your sauce to be :)) when reduced sufficiently, this will look like a nice dark glaze that is then to be finished with some cut up good quality butter about twenty percent of its volume (so 200ml of sauce will need 40gms of cold butter). off the heat then whisk the butter in until melted.
when ready to dig in, simply sear the pork tongue cutlets in some butter until a nice tasty crust forms then glaze with the finished pork-blueberry jus. serve with the apricot chutney for a nice tangy contrast.
having any stone fruit chutney inside your fridge could sometimes save an otherwise boring dinner (either home-cooked or take-out)
the zing and tang it provides are always a welcome note in any meaty dish where a bright contrast would make all the difference.
That’s it for this newsletter!
until the next one. :)