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

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.

Labels: , , , , , , ,