More than ever I find that my friends and I are thinking about the vagaries of food and wine matching… so much so that I even presented on this very topic at the Rambling Restaurant last Thursday (poor people…). Well first of all I think it’s a pretty inexact science. It’s the (newly) famous 10:80:10 rule – 10% of matches will be disastrous, the flavours clashing like orange juice and minty toothpaste. 80% will go just fine with each other. I always think that if you like the food and you like the wine, then you will enjoy the experience and not worry too much about the precise chemical reactions. Then on the rare 10% of occasions you’ll find two flavours that were born for each other. They go so well that they create a sensation greater than the sum of the flavours…now that’s a great match. It’s like England winning the Ashes.
So to the latest challenge…to match a Deakin Estate wine with a recipe of my making. Easy…or so I thought! I chose the Cabernet Sauvignon because I was looking first for a red, and second for one with a savoury character, which ruled out the lush, fruit sweetness of the Shiraz. I wanted my recipe to click with the leafy Cabernet character and frolic with the fruity blackcurrant (or something like that!). I also wanted to cook something different, so I steered away from steak, though I don’t doubt that would have worked perfectly.
How about pork loin chops baked with porcini and creme fraiche? No, the creme fraiche would be in danger of being far too rich and creamy. Instead I opted for pork loin chops on a bed of wilted spinach and mushroom with a porcini and red wine sauce. Perhaps naively I thought that by including the actual wine in the dish I was really laying the foundations for a successful match – I guess this makes sense…sort of! I wanted to create an umami-rich sauce bursting with mushroom flavour to accentuate the leafiness of the Cabernet and take my taste buds straight to the foresty undergrowth.
2 pork loin chops
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 teaspoon honey
salt & pepper
Coat the chops in honey, salt and pepper and then fry them for a couple of minutes on each side. Then pop them into an oven (200 degrees C) for 8-10 minutes.
10g porcini mushrooms
1 chicken stock cube, melted in 1/3 pint boiling water
100ml Deakin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
1 teaspoon damson jam
1 teaspoon Taste No 5 umami paste
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and then reduce by about 2/3.
3 spring onions
6 open cup mushrooms
1 bag of baby spinach
1 clove of garlic
Fry the onion, garlic and mushroom together in the deglazed pork pan and then wilt the spinach over it.
And how did it work…actually really well. The sauce was a potent brew, with the teaspoon of damson jam just taking the edge off the intense earthiness of the porcini, stock and umami paste. To be honest the wine in the sauce was swallowed up in this mushroomy morass but I don’t doubt it added to the overall roundness. The components of the dish worked well together, both the sauce and the spinach adding much needed flavour to the pork. The hint of honey just managed to poke its head above the undergrowth too. Followed up by a gulp of the delicious blackcurranty Cabernet, the flavours deftly piked up one upon the other to create a very pleasant sensation. The earthiness of the sauce worked well with the fruit, creating a balanced, and rich texture and flavour. It didn’t quite go Cloud Nine, but it was very complementary.
DO YOU THINK YOU COULD DO BETTER? Admittedly that’s a pretty tall order after that masterful effort. Disagree..? Well have a go yourself. All recipes can be uploaded to the Deakin Masterchef website, before judging takes place on the 15th December.