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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

More than Rosé: Pairing a Provençal Red with a Fennel-Rubbed Pork Chop #Winophiles

This month the French Winophiles are looking at wines from Provence. Linda of My Full Wine Glass is hosting. Linda actually hosted an Instagram live interview with Jill Barth of L'Occasion. I missed it. Boo.


Here's the line-up of articles from the French Winophiles...


When most people think of Provence wines, Rosés jump to the top of the list, right? I have certainly poured my fair share. Think: Spiced Orange Salad + Cave de Saint-Roch-les-Vignes Côtes de Provence Rosé, Pasta au Gratin + Ste. Venture Aix en Provençe Rosé, and many more pairings.



The Rosés run the gamut from the palest pink to an almost ruddy salmon. But I wanted to highlight that Provence wines are more than just Rosés. I was grateful to get my hands on a red wine from Provence.


Château de Roquefort Gueule de Loup 2019

This cuvée is named after the snapdragon flower which is called Gueule de Loup in French. The literal translation is 'wolf's mouth' and the flower is native to the Mediterranean and abounds on the Château de Roquefort estate. Speaking of this impressive estate, it consists of 25 hectares on the edge of the Bandol appellation at 1000 feet of elevation. The property has been in Raimond de Villeneuve's family for years, but he just started bottling the wine under the Château's name in recent years. Before that, the grapes were sold in bulk. The grapes on the property range in age from 15 to 40 years old. All are grown biodynamically.


This Provençal red is a heady blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Cinsault, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Additionally, it's unfined and unfiltered and pours a brilliant, deep red with flecks of purple on the rim. On the palate, it's simultaneously fruity and earthy with a tinge of spice. I decided to pair it with an easy grilled pork preparation.


Fennel-Rubbed Pork Chop


This isn't so much a recipe as a process. You can rub the pork chop with whatever spices you want. I opted for a triple dose of fennel: fennel pollen, fennel seeds, and ground fennel.


Ingredients

serves 2

  • 1 large bone-in pork chop, approximately 1-1/2 inch thick

  • 1 garlic clove

  • fennel pollen

  • fennel seeds

  • ground fennel

  • smoked sea salt

  • olive oil

  • Also needed: grill or grill pan


Procedure


Cut a slit in the pork chop close to the bone. Tuck the garlic clove into the slit. Sprinkle the pork chop with ground fennel, fennel pollen, fennel seeds, and smoked sea salt. Flip the chop and sprinkle the other side. Let stand at room temperature while the grill or grill pan heats.


Drizzle the chop with olive oil and place it on the heated grill pan. You want to cook pork until its internal temperature is 145 degrees Fahrenheit. For this, it took 6 minutes per side, turning at a 90 degrees angle halfway through to get nice grill marks, flipping it over, and cooking for another 6 minutes.

Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.



And all of this - pork and a Provençal Red - reminded me of a book I read several years ago: A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France by Georgeanne Brennan.


amazon.com


I was not familiar with Georgeanne Brennan's work, but I was immediately drawn into her book as she begins describing her family's adventures of moving to Provence in the 1970s and starting a traditional fresh goat cheese business. A Pig in Provence is part travelogue and personal memoir. But it's really a love letter to Provence and all its foods. Brennan paints a delightful picture of the culture and the people of the region. Those "long meals, composed of simple, fresh seasonal foods and local wines, savored under the cooling shade of sycamore or mulberry trees in warm weather and in front of a cozy fire in cold weather, are the essence of the good life, well lived" (pg. 123).


Brennan writes, "I recognized that food was central to life, not for reasons of hedonism or sustenance, but because it was a link to everyone that had gone before me. It was a link to the land, a link to friends and family around a shared table, and a link to future generations to come. In a fragile, unstable world of change, food is a constant."


My family and I have been talking recently about connections over food. It's one of the things I miss the most as we go into our seventeenth week of being sheltered in place during this coronavirus pandemic: I miss having friends and family around my dinner table for a shared meal, libations, and seasonal food prepared with love.


That is a constant theme - shared meals - throughout her book. She writes, "Our social life, like everyone else’s, revolved around food. We lingered over lunches and dinners, went to the open markets where we met friends for an apéritif or coffee, took picnics to the beaches and lakes, and went to restaurants and community feasts. We steeped ourselves in the tastes of Provence—olive oil, wild herbs, fish, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, grilled lamb and sausages, fresh cheese, and fruit of every kind" (pg. 123).


As Brennan lives and eats through the seasons there, she details what she's eating and what she's learning. After she learns to identify and forage mushrooms around her house, she describes, "I carefully sliced our chanterelles into long, perfect sections and sautéed them in olive oil with a few shallots, salt, and pepper. As they cooked, they scented our little kitchen with an unfamiliar aroma, slightly musty and rich. When they became tender, I poured a half-dozen beaten eggs over them and sprinkled on parsley. I let the bottom of the eggs set, then flipped one half over the other, cooking the omelette until it was firm, but still soft in the middle. I quickly made a salad from greens I had picked earlier that day, and we sat down to our first home-cooked meal of gathered wild mushrooms"(pg. 70).


When she writes about truffled eggs, I began counting the weeks till the season and wondering if the world will open back up in time for me to head to my favorite Italian restaurant and purchase some truffles. "'You keep them and the truffles together in the jar. The smell of the truffles goes into the eggs. In two days, even three, break the eggs into a bowl, clean the truffles, and grate them into the eggs. Let stand a little, add some sea salt, and then cook the eggs in butter to make your oeufs brouillés. Ahhh.' He kissed the tip of his fingers with a smack. 'Sublime. Vous verrez'" (pg. 91)


On the other end of the culinary spectrum is a French-style ham sandwich. "Almost nothing tastes as good for lunch as a French-style ham sandwich with a cold beer. The bread, at least one-third of a crusty baguette from a late-morning bake, is cut lengthwise and heavily slathered with sweet butter before two or three slices of thin ham are folded in half down the center and the sandwich closed up. That’s it. Three tastes, three textures" (pg. 169).


At the end of it, I think the food philosophy embraced in Provence - well, in many places, but she is writing about Provence: "Any dish is only as good as the ingredients you begin with" (pg. 176).


But it was her recounting about le jour de cochon, when the people of Provence slaughter their pig that reminded me about why I have always strived to connect my kids to their food sources. I didn't want them to think that meat came on a styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic; meat was once an animal. And to that end, I have taken my kids to farms to meet their meat!



One year, several years ago, we went to visit our CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm. D spotted a sow with a row of piglets.


“Mommy, look! Babies!” he shrieked, gesturing at the pile of pigs huddled beneath the shade of the gnarled apple tree. The piglets shoved and squealed; they climbed on top of one another. All were trying to get to their mother’s teat. Those who were successful, suckled happily. Those who weren’t, kept jostling the heap. “I like that one,” he pointed excitedly. “He’s cute. Which one do you like?”


“Oh, I don’t know. You think they’d make good pets?”


“No, silly Mommy. They’re for bacon… or ham!” he declared.


Okay.


Brennan writes about this: "At one moment the pig was a living, breathing, heaving animal, one I had known for the last year as I helped Marie feed him, and in the next moment he was an inanimate object, ready to become food. With the release of blood, I saw his life slowly leaving and his eyes beginning to fade. My heart was pounding and I turned my head. When I looked back moments later, it was over and the transition from life to death completed. It was time to begin the transformation of the pig into pâté, sausages, and hams" (pg . 48).


Homemade Sausages


Have you ever made your own sausages? D and I took a class once with one of our favorite chefs, Chef Brad Briske of HOME Soquel. I haven't make sausages since, but I have done it once. That counts, right?


This isn't a recipe, per se, but I'll share the process we learned.



They ground the meat - not with the hand grinder, but he did show them that one; they used the Hobart and it was much, much faster.



They seasoned the meat with brown sugar, Maldon flake salt, fennel seeds, paprika, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. They added in minced garlic, fresh oregano, and fresh parsley.



Then they donned gloves and mixed that all in by hand. Thank goodness the teenagers were game; all the adults were busily sipping beer as the 'pint' part of the Pork & Pint party.


Chef Brad brought out the sausage stuffer, demonstrating how to load the casings on to the tube. Then they stuffed the sausages. They made links by pressing into the casing at 6" intervals and spinning the sausage for three rotations, alternating directions. Brad made it seem easy. D said it wasn't easy.



And we ended up with some beautiful pork sausages.



Everyone wrapped some and took sausages home. Chef Brad did roast some of the sausages in the wood-burning pizza oven for us to enjoy right then and there.


Well, that's a wrap on my musings about Provence and pigs. I don't see the theme yet for September's event for the French Winophiles. Stay tuned. I am sure it will be delicious.

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2 Comments


Jane Niemeyer
Jane Niemeyer
Aug 19, 2023

Nice pairing, I like the 3 times fennel rub!

I am a huge Georgeanne Brennan fan.

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sidehustlewino
Aug 19, 2023

Everything sounds and looks delicious Cam, especially those freshly made sausages. Thanks for introducing this book Cam, I've added to my reading list! Cheers.

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