05 May 2008

Derby Day

I don't follow horse racing, but each year I find the Kentucky Derby an excellent opportunity to mix up a few mint juleps and toast a tradition. This year I used the Ridgemont Reserve 1792 Small Batch Bourbon, aged to smoothness for eight years. Much better on its own, but there's nothing wrong with using a couple of shots for this classic Southern cocktail. I just put the Bourbon, simple syrup, and torn mint leaves in a martini shaker with some ice, shake heavily, and then strain over ice cubes. Some club soda or sparkling water helps make it lighter and more refreshing on a hot day.

For dinner I was craving pork chops, which I haven't made in a while. I took a pair of 1½" thick bone-in chops and brined them for a few hours in apple juice, salt, peppercorns, star anise, and mustard seed. They were then dried and stuffed with a mixture of cornbread, apple, garlic, and dried figs. A bit of dry rub, a sear on the skillet, and then finished in the oven to a pleasant medium. Served simply with fresh fruit and a steamed artichoke. Side note: The Girlfriend loves artichokes, and today I bought one that had a foot-long stem on it. It turned out to be the best one I've ever cooked. Looks like it helps preserve the freshness, and it can double as a blunt weapon.

Pork and apples begs for Riesling, so I tried the 2006 S.A. Prüm Essence, a good bargain at $11. Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region, pure Riesling, 11% abv. Good fruit aromas and flavors (apple and pear), with good tartness. Lovely little mineral qualities. It's dry but not bland, and was pleasantly crisp. Excellent match for the meal.

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