Port being one of my favourite drinks and too often tossed aside to cook with or to pair with food, I constantly think and try to invent new recipes in which I can happily incorporate my precious drink. Port should not only be seen as an aperitif or dessert wine that puts too much alcohol in our blood for the volume of liquid. We definitely need to keep its place at the table and justly appreciate it with our keen senses. When smartly chosen and paired, it brings distinctive and uplifting flavours to put a smile on everyone’s face.
- 1 bunch of freshly cut rosemary
- A few white cherries
- 1 Peach
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 2 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 cup of sweet white Port
- 10 ozs. (300 g.) Veal sweetbread
- 3 tablespoons of Olive oil – to use in the pan
- Salt – to taste and a 5 pepper mix
- Half a cup of Flour
The quality of the ingredients is always integral to any recipe, the more flavour it has, the better your dish will taste. Make sure that your fruits are ripe and sweet, any bitter or sour flavours will spoil the dish. When I cook, I really like to keep it nice and simple. Primarily because I don’t want to spend many hours labouring in the kitchen, and secondly, I want the recipe accessible and easy for others to replicate if they like it. Most important, is that I really like to taste the distinctive flavours of each ingredient.
To make the Port reduction sauce, cut 6 cherries in half and remove their pits. Mix in the white Port, 1 table spoon of honey, the halved cherries, sugar and rosemary. Boil the entire mixture for roughly 20-30 minutes or until you find the texture pleasing. I prefer to keep it fairly liquid, so it penetrates the veal sweetbread when it’s served. When you’re done, keep about 1 table spoon in the boiling container and heat your sliced peaches for a few seconds. Retain any leftover juice, as it is delicious over vanilla ice cream!
Boil the veal sweetbread for approximately 2 minutes. This step is needed to separate the membrane. You’ll want to remove it and also any excess fat that surrounds it, as well as any nerves and veins that you can see. Cut it into serving portions; add salt and pepper to fit your taste. Then roll them in flour to get a thin layer to cover the veal sweetbread pieces.
In a frying pan, add your olive oil and bring it to a high temperature. Grill the veal sweetbread for an instant and lower the heating surface to medium temperature. It should take between 5-10 minutes of cooking time at most, depending on the size of the pieces. Half way through the cooking time, add a gentle touch of honey to each side of the veal sweetbread to create a nice golden color. Do not overcook; slice a small chunk if you want to check it. There is nothing like the texture of a perfectly cooked veal sweetbread simply melting on your tongue and leaving the symphony of flavours!
Serve the veal sweetbread on a bed of sliced peaches, add some fresh cherries, candied ones, rosemary leaves and pour your Port reduction over the top of it. Make sure you leave some extra sauce on the plate so you can dip the meat into it.
Serve it as an entree either with a glass of white Port or a semi-sweet wine like a German Spatlese. Fruits are not always available in good quality all year long, so do not hesitate to bring variation to the theme. There are surely many interesting pairings with other fruits such as mangos, fresh figs, nectarines, apricots and probably passion fruit too.
Simple, easy and delicious; enjoy!
ARTICLE AND PHOTOS © FREDERICK BLAIS – OCTOBER 2009
Roy’s note: This month’s Guest Corner contribution comes from Frederick Blais, one of the earliest members of FTLOP and the creator of our slogan, “Collective Port Wisdom.” I first met Frederick (who hails from Montreal) in Porto back in the summer of 2003 and he and his family joined us on a tour of the IVP (not yet IVDP at that time). He has written articles for FTLOP in the past and has been a phenomenal contributor of great photos to PORTraits and insight to our Forum since its inception. Frederick’s article this month pairs White Port in one of his favorite recipes and everyone should try this for themselves and you can add your “feedback” on the Forum.