It's that time again.
This weekend, sugar houses around Vermont welcome visitors to experience the wonder that is maple syrup. It's on my mind. Our gallon, purchased from the shuttle bus driver up in Lebanon last year, is getting low. Low to me is less than half a bottle, as it turns out. Ample excuse for driving from sugar house to sugar house this weekend, sampling.
There are three kinds of Grade A syrup, but I like Grade B, which is dark, with a pronounced maple flavor. Don't bother with the more expensive Grade A, which is very much lighter and milder. Not the same thing at all. Keep in mind that people in Vermont originally sweetened everything with syrup, so the mild kind was prized.
This recipe is the first of several I've been considering for maple syrup. I wanted to complement local farm-raised elk medallions with flavors that would balance and hold their own with maple.
I've used Vermont Cassis from Putney Mountain Winery, to provide a suprisingly appropriate and delicious counterpoint. Enjoy!
First, the ingredients:
Elk Medallions with Maple-Cassis Gastrique
4 Elk loin medallions
3 TB olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup best beef stock
1/4 cup Cassis
2 1/2 TB Grade B Vermont maple syrup
Large pinch Herbes de Provence
freshly ground Salt, pepper
1. In a saute pan, briefly cook the minced garlic in olive oil, 30 seconds in all.
2. Add the elk medallions on high heat, sear on first side, then flip and sear on second side. Only turn once. Cook until desired doneness (rare recommended!). Remove from pan to a small plate, while finishing the sauce.
3. Add stock to the hot pan and deglaze; pour in the Cassis and maple syrup. Season with the Herbes de Provence and a couple of grinds of salt and pepper.
4. Reduce the sauce until it is a light syrup. There will be just enough sauce for the four medallions.
5. Serve the medallions with a drizzle of sauce, braised cabbage and pommes Churchill (below).
This is a simple but pleasing potato and carrot strata, layered with my Hawks Mountain cheese.
Any gruyere-type cheese will do.
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and parboiled
3 medium to large carrots, peeled and parboiled
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese
2 TB olive oil
Fresh ground salt/pepper
- Trim the rounded outside of each potato, so it approximates a cube.
- Slice the potatoes and carrots 1/4" thick
- Put the oil in a 10" saute pan, and distribute evenly.
- Make a layer of potato slices, laid like bricks (this is the Churchill part)
- Follow with a layer of carrot, then sprinkle with Gruyere
- Top with the second layer of potato slices, laid in brickwork pattern
- Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
- Put on the lid and turn up the heat. Brown on the bottom.
- Cook for 15 minutes, being careful to not burn. Add a bit of milk if necessary.
- Serve pieces of the brick wall, retaining the pattern.