Blue Heron in flight

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Pork Normandy

Being relatively new to cooking but not afraid to take chances, I often take elements of different recipes and cobble them together. Usually I know enough to not get into too much trouble but Leslie thinks I tend to overspice at times or use disparate elements to the dish's detriment.

So I am trying to improve in that department and I do learn something every time I cook.

Last night I made a pork normandy, a traditional French dish. In America it tends to be made more as a sauce but in many of the French recipes it is more of a casserole.

I was fairly faithful to this recipe.

I had picked fresh white sage from my garden a few days before and dried it out. I cooked at our friend Renée's house last night. She loves French food and has a great palette. My wife was classically trained at Emil's Restaurant, a master chef and family friend from Liechtenstein. 

It is hard to cook at another person's house, you don't know what to use or what to bring, or what drawer to find the spatula, but we are all old friends and made it work without much fuss.

I got there around four o'clock and started prepping the apples. I used two honeycrisp. Renée took the sage and after applying a little olive oil, rubbed it into the pork and then salted and peppered the tenderloin.

I seared the meat in oil in her "Always" pan for about five or six minutes, turning repeatedly to brown everything well.

I saw that the French recipes added celery to the fond and we added a stalk to ours. My wife does not like onions but I added a shallot and two cloves of garlic to compensate.

After the shallot and garlic had softened I added the peeled apples and cooked them for about six to eight minutes.

I then added chicken stock, apple cider, a pinch of ginger and the Dijon mustard.

I had forgot to bring the brandy I had been graciously given by RoxAnn. It was in the back of my store. 

Leslie was just leaving work and grabbed it and brought it over. 

It is pear but RoxAnn informed me that traditional calvados was also often pear and we went for it for the three tablespoons required. 

Well, it said two, I added a third for good measure.

Was beautiful and a hell of a lot better than spending fifty bucks on something that might sit for decades at the back of the liquor cabinet.

The sauce started taking shape. 

I added a little corn starch, or corn flour as the English call it and the whipping cream.

We allowed that to come to a low boil and mixed it up. 

Renée instructed me to not use the wooden spatula so much to mix but instead to shake the pan so as not to break down the apples.

Good tip.

I reserved half the apples from the sauce and pureed the other half in the processor with the sauce.

I don't think Chef Robert at Le Bistro used a puree but most of the authentic recipes do.

I wanted whole apple slices in the dish as well.

We pulled the tenderloins out of the 400° oven after about 10 minutes and when they reached 135°.

Leslie didn't think they were quite done to her satisfaction so we put them in the oven proof pan with the sauce and cooked them for another five minutes.

Our host made a beautiful salad and lovely mashed potatoes to accompany our meal. 

Leslie opened up a choice bottle of Chateau neuf de pape and we decanted it.

I finished the plate with some fresh tarragon.

How was it? It was okay, not great. I give it a seven, maybe a seven and a half.

Leslie said the recipe was perfect,  but honestly she did not like the quality of the pork, which was marked natural and may have had a different curing process.

She did not like the smell of the meat, which she found off putting.

I did not find the smell objectionable in the least but did the think my dish was more savory than others I have tasted, which are sweeter and a bit more cloying.

If I do it again, I will omit the sage and the shallot and try to Americanize it a bit. 

Dial back on the savory elements. Go to the butcher and find a better tenderloin or use a different cut.

You can't knock them all out of the park but you live and learn. I liked it and look forward to the leftovers.

I think my next dish will be a traditional cassoulet

Maybe I can nail that one?

We had a great time and dinner, lots of laughs. Ended up listening to vinyl, early Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Umma Gumma. Such a nice night!

I was talking to the boys at breakfast this morning and Joel said something interesting. I was late getting there, couldn't find my car keys and had to wake the wife to help look. They were in the car... Anyway, Joel's wife, who is a great cook, said that my food doesn't look very good but it looks like it tastes really good.

I think she is right. I don't plate or pose the food at all and could probably gussie it up a little bit in the pictures. I will take it as a compliment.

1 comment:

Wilbur Norman said...


And a treat to get my brain off the current world situation for a little while.