11.02.2019

That Old Black Magic

“Pigs in blankets? You’ve got to be kidding!?”

That was the reaction I got 20-some years ago when Mark and I hosted a museum benefit dinner at our home in Kittery, Maine.

Love this linen tea towel - a gift from Andrea, The Kitchen Lioness
The evening’s theme? “That Old Black Magic.” Frank Sinatra. The Rat Pack. And unconscionable, horrible, often revolting — yet addictive — 1950s food.

I sought out the classic recipes of the era and created our menu: Waldorf Salad, Green Bean Casserole, and Pigs in Blankets.

As I said, when the guests (who had paid $200 per person) saw the menu, the reaction bordered on abject horror. “You’ve got to be kidding!?”

“No, I never kid about food.”

What I do, however, is play with food.

I used a bit of that “old black magic,” updated the recipes, and everyone was charmed.

That which was old became new — and good. Conscionable, wonderful, and addictive 1950s food redux.

The Waldorf salad became a shaved fennel salad with roasted pears and candied pecans. The green bean casserole started with fresh beans, to which I added a homemade shiitake cream and topped with frizzled leeks.

Pigs in Blankets, our main course, was my piggy riff on Bœuf Wellington. I used pork tenderloin, a rosemary-infused apricot mousse, homemade all-butter pastry, and served it with a porcini demiglace.

I paired this with a Wall Street Journal Wine Club Côtes du Rhône – Le Prince de Courthézon “Prestige.” You can learn more about it on the Provence WineZine this week.

As Rosemary Clooney crooned in the background, we enjoyed our candlelit mid-century modern meal — the men in dinner clothes and the ladies in crinoline-poofed cocktail dresses. It was magical.

~ David

Porc en Croûte a.k.a. Pigs in Blankets

Apricot Mousse
12 dried apricots
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream
1 teaspoon brown sugar


Crust
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
6-7 tablespoons ice water


Porcini Demiglace
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon porcini powder * [where are notes?]
2 heaping tablespoons demiglace concentrate **
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup rich chicken stock

1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin, divided equally into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

       * If you cannot find porcini powder/dust, you can make your 

         own by grinding dried porcini in a spice grinder.
     ** I used Demiglace Gold, but you can find many demiglace 
         products on the market.

Place apricots and rosemary in a saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 ____ minutes. Apricots should be soft and plump. Let cool in any remaining water for 30 minutes. Remove and discard rosemary, drain apricots and add to a food processor with the remaining mousse ingredients and process until smooth. Place in the refrigerator while you begin the assembly.

Place flour into a large shallow bowl. Add salt and stir to mix. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or pinch it with your fingertips. Add 6 tablespoons water and mix into the flour mixture with a fork. Add an additional tablespoon of water, if needed, in order to form a smooth dough. Shape into a ball and chill for 30 minutes.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan and add the shallot, cooking until soft. Add the porcini powder and sauté 30 seconds. Add the demiglace concentrate and the white wine and whisk until smooth. Strain into another small saucepan and add the chicken stock; simmer until thickened. Set aside.

Season pork well with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in butter over medium-high heat. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Roll out one pastry sheet to a 16-inch square and divide into four 8-inch square pieces. Trim pastry corners as shown in photos. Place 2 tablespoons of apricot mousse in the center of each pastry quarter. Top with a piece of cooled pork and fold up sides and ends to make little packages, sealing the corners well. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and brush tops and sides with egg wash. Bake 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and start the broiler; broil until then crusts are golden.

Reheat the sauce, thinning a bit with stock or water if too thick. Place a package on each of 4 warmed plates, and pool sauce around them. Serve each with a sprig of rosemary (which I forgot as I was rushing to take the photos and get dinner on the table).

Serves 4.

37 comments:

  1. You certainly refined the pics in the blanket recipe. I wish I didn’t have a cast on my foot and could make this today. Far West Fungi is located near Santa Cruz. I bought their mushrooms but not the powder . David, have a lovely weekend.

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    1. Gerlinde - the powder is amazing - I add it to so many things! Just yesterday afternoon, it added quite a bit of flavor to a risotto... and it is great as a spice rub (with s&p) for steaks.

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  2. Oh yum, yum, yum! I'm not even sure, but what I know as "pigs in a blanket" uses cabbage, no? This looks and sounds fabulous, David! If only I could stay home long enough to cook and bake again! Off again tomorrow!

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    1. Actually small sausages or pieces thereof - Brits, the Oirish and us Aussies do them for Chrissie in streaky bacon, the Yanks put them in one form of pastry or another . . .oh, we sometimes also do so . . . :) ! Uhuh, pretty old-fashioned . . .

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    2. Christina - no cabbage here - in the US in the 1950s, it was a little cocktail wiener in some biscuit-y dough. Just wretched. It had to be re-created... :)

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  3. Oh David ! . . . 'that same old witchcraft' I remember so well . . Oh yes to Waldorf salad and, perchance not so much to 'pigs in blankets' as to the Beef Wellington which just had to be there for all the gorgeous dinners not blessed by my rather famous Osso Buco :) ! What a fantastic magic you have wrought to make so many of us remember . . . yes to all parts and I simply cannot wait to have my table look like yours . . . (Oh, Clooney 'no', but Sinatra 'yes' . . . . well, he thought me 'sexy' the only rime we met up Kauai-way :) !

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    1. I adore Rosemary Clooney, Eha - have since I was a kid! I adore George, too, though he never called me sexy. Sigh.

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    2. *sweet laughter after Monday lunch * Methinks the guy called himself Frank(ie) actually and he may not have called you by that nomenclature ! Oh, Bing was there that night also . . . neither scored (oops!)! And, on tropic: DO like your dish . . .

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    3. How fun! Thanks - glad you like the dish. It was quite tasty!

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  4. Robin Lurie-MeyerkopfNovember 3, 2019 at 6:15 PM

    This looks so amazing! Some day I will make the whole thing. Can I charge my family ?��

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    1. Thanks, Robin - yes, you can charge your family. Not a problem at all... Great to see you last weekend! :)

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  5. I love the way you roll, David. I truly do. I would happily slice into one of these gorgeous parcels. That pastry looks divine!

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    1. Thanks, John - definitely a fun mashup on the Wellington... The pastry came out well. I would have used puff but the store was out. I think this was better!

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  6. Absolutely amazing combinations of flavours ! Amazing !

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    1. Thank you so much, Davorka - sometimes I get lucky! :)

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  7. We've been watching The Final Table on Netflix -- a competition with the top chefs in the world. This is something they would make on that show. It was the first place my mind went to. I love the recipe -- so interesting and I'm certain, SO delicious. :-) ~Valentina

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    1. I have to look for The Final Table - I haven't heard of it before. Thanks for your sweet note, Valentina! :)

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  8. Very elegant take on an old fashioned dish. It's funny how good some of those recipes from the 50s/60s can be if you make them from scratch and fancify them a bit. On a more mundane note, I actually made a tuna casserole the other night. Using homemade ingredients, instead of a can of this and a can of that, it wasn't half bad...

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    1. I imagine a tuna casserole made with all good ingredients would be more than "not half bad," Frank. Just making it with imported tuna packed in oil makes a huge difference.

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  9. David, you indeed took Pigs in a Blanket to another much better level. What a great play on the classic dish and a recipe I must soon try.
    Me, I'll take Rosemary any day. I grew up with her playing on the radio and still enjoy her voice. Frank, how can one not like Frank...
    I must say David, I love your measuring spoons.

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    1. I am with you on Rosemary - I absolutely love her voice. I think it was White Christmas that started it for me! The whole era of singers was very special. Do you know the Dinning Sisters?

      Thanks for your comments on the "pigs" - it was fun to do!

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    2. Sure, we listened to the Dinning Sisters as well as the Boswell Sisters and my favorite the Andrews Sisters.

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    3. So glad to know someone else knows all those sisters - I had forgotten about the Boswell Sisters...

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  10. It's amazing how re-naming a dish from Pigs in a Blanket to Porc en croute can totally transform a dish! That porcini cream looks delicious- (I'm sure a 1950s housewife would be puzzled at such a thing)!

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    1. The 1950s housewife can call me for ideas! Like how to make a salad withOUT Jell-O!

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  11. OK, you win the interwebs with this dish! Really fun idea -- and really tasty, too, I'll wager. Love the idea of pairing the pork with the apricot mousse.

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    1. Wow, John - I have never won the interwebs before. Thanks! :)

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  12. This is definitely classier than what we know as kids to be pigs in a blanket, you've taken this to an elegant new level. The addition of mousse with he porcini sauce is dynamic.

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    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Merryn! It was definitely fun to resurrect this dish I made so long ago - and to upgrade it with the porcini demiglace!

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  13. David, you have wowed me again. When I saw 'pigs in blankets,' I might have been alarmed had I not known you can always be relied upon to make the revolting revolutionary.

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    1. Thanks Jean - quite a complement! :) AndI know wI can rely on you and other friends to understand my dislike ot the oldies that are so beloved...

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  14. Dear David, you certainly know how to present a dish. This looks so very inspired, fresh, delicious and just perfectly elegant. What an impeccable presentation! And a big fat 'Thank you!' for posting pics with that tea towel with a link to my blog. I have been so caught up in preparing some of these little radio features, that I am seriously behind with my commenting but, I always get there, eventually...
    Big hug from afar!
    Andrea

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    1. I love that tea towel and was happy to link to you! It was a lot of fun creating this dish! :)

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  15. I so smiled at your "pigs in a blanket" comment on Pinterest! And now you add the rosemary pig tail :) . BTW, I found the Dufour pastry sheets you recommend. Can't wait to try making something!

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    1. I hope you like the Dufour pastry, Inger - it is quite wonderful! :)

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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