Wine With . . . Pork Medallions With Wine-Braised Apples
by Paul Lukacs and Marguerite Thomas
While pork lends itself naturally to pairing with fruit, the partnership is not always as wine-friendly as we might hope. Sometimes the fruit is too acidic, sometimes too sweet, and sometimes it simply dominates the flavors of both the wine and the meat (fresh pork is, after all, more delicate than beef or lamb). Over the years we’ve enjoyed pork garnished with peaches, with mango chutney, or with fresh grapes, but there’s no doubt that pork and apples are the most traditional duo--just think of how frequently applesauce is served with pork chops. But we were looking for something with a little more zip that the standard applesauce, which tends to be too sweet and/or too blah with wine. It occurred to us that if we braised sliced apples in wine spiked with traditional pork partners such as mustard and rosemary, we’d have a dish well-suited to a variety of different wine styles.
Well, the outcome wasn’t exactly as we’d imagined. The first time we tried making it the wine-soaked apples were delicious with the pork but much too tart to be truly agreeable with a glass of wine. After experimenting with various additions to sweeten up the apples, from honey to dried apricots, we finally settled on a handful of raisins, which did indeed, result in just the right ratio of sweet to tart. We also added chicken stock to the wine to bring a little more richness to the mix. Overall, we are quite pleased with the resulting dish, although it is not exactly the slam-dunk with wine we’d anticipated. While we did come up with a handful of wines that meshed beautifully with the flavors of the pork and apple combo, we also sampled a surprising number of wines that fell short of being a perfect match for the dish.
We hope you’ll try this recipe out and get back to us if you discover a particular wine that seems just right to you with it. We’d love to share your ideas with other readers of Wine Review Online.
PORK MEDALLIONS WITH WINE-BRAISED APPLES
FOR THE APPLES
2 apples peeled and cut in slices about ¼ inch thick
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper or dried red pepper flakes
1/3 cup raisins
Place the apples in a small skillet. Whisk together the wine, stock, mustard, rosemary and garlic, and pour the mixture over the apples. Add the bay leaf and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes. Add the raisins and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and the liquid has been reduced to only a spoonful or two (this should take about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the type of apples used). If making ahead of time, reheat the apples gently before serving.
FOR THE PORK
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter (preferably unsalted)
1 tablespoon olive oil or other vegetable oil such as canola or grapeseed
1 small onion or 1 shallot, minced
Cut the pork into 6 to 8 pieces of approximately equal thickness. Season the slices with salt and pepper. (If you have time, place the seasoned meat in the refrigerator for anywhere from one to 24 hours before cooking it). Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and oil. When hot, add the pieces of pork in a single layer without crowding. Brown the meat for two to three minutes on each side. When the meat is nicely browned, stir in the onions or shallot, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the meat is done (ideally it should be lightly pink in the center).
Divide the warm apples between two plates. Arrange the pork medallions on top of the apples and spoon whatever juices have collected in the skillet over them. Serve at once.
t t t
We tried thirteen different wines with this pork and apple dish, and quite frankly many of them did not work at all well. Many tasted too tart or astringent, or simply lost focus when having to compete with the sweet/ tart flavors of the apples and the more pungent meaty flavors in the pork. It quickly became clear that this dish, while undoubtedly delicious, calls for some careful thinking when choosing a wine to partner with it.
Two things seem especially important to think about. First, the dish does not much like truly bone-dry wines. Second, being so fruity itself, it loves a complementary fruity wine. Neither of these mean that you need to choose a sweet wine (though an off dry Riesling was delicious with it), just that the ripe taste of fruit needs to be prominent in whatever wine you select. The dish works equally well with reds and whites, though too much tannin can be off-putting, and an overly delicate white probably will be overwhelmed by it. We have five specific wines to recommend, but these two general pairing principles are probably even more important to keep in mind.