Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mini Sliders to Pair with a Barbera Wine

The 3rd annual Winefest Renaissance fundraiser, held by the Boys & Girls Club of Aberdeen, will take place this year on March 28th. I have selected the wines I will be presenting along with the foods I plan to pair with the wines (to both the food and wine's best advantage, I hope). I do not have the wines to taste here at home, though I would like to buy some of them to try out myself. My creation of the foods to pair with these wines is based on various criteria:

Pork & Chicken Thigh Fresh Sausage Mini Sliders with Cherry Onion Mustard

  • The descriptions of the bouquet of the particular wine (found online in many places, but most prominently on the site of the winery itself) such as cherry cola, blueberries, red fruits.
  • The descriptors for the wine's flavor characteristics, such as blackberry, plum, black cherry, herbs, oak, vanilla.
  • My own lists of foods that pair best with a particular varietal.
Size of Sausage Patties
When taking into consideration the descriptors for aroma and flavor, in many cases it helps to select a particular food that also has that flavor. In the case of the Terra D'Oro Barbera, I created tiny little sliders. The testing is done, the sliders are perfectly flavored, and i believe they will fit the criteria and pair well with the Barbera wine at the event in late March.

I wanted to use full flavors. Barbera is a wine that plays well with food, much as does Pinot Noir. I created a fresh sausage patty using both pork loin and chicken thighs and lots of wonderful spices and herbs to make them flavorful. I made the patties very tiny, about a scant 2-inches in diameter. Yesterday I made my Mom's Bread Updated recipe, which yields 4 loaves. After forming 3 loaves for bread, I took the portion of dough for the last loaf and made my tiny little slider buns. This amount yielded about 26 little buns, at between 67 to 71 grams apiece. I use a little kitchen scale to ensure they were all the same relative size. At this small a weight, it is easier to use grams to quickly see the differences. Once the breads were formed to rise, I started on the Cherry Onion Mustard. It turned out so wonderfully tasty, I couldn't stop snitching little tastes of it. Yum.

Size of the whole Slider Sandwich
Once I got all the components done and put together, I could not have been happier with the flavors. The little sausage patties were perfectly seasoned, the Cherry Onion Mustard was a perfect match and the buns were the perfect size, light and fluffy and airy enough they did not make the tiny, two-or-three-bite sandwich too bready.

I "ground" the meats in a food processor. When using a food processor for this purpose, it leaves any fat in long, unappetizing strings. Because of this, I trimmed all visible fat from the meat, leaving very lean patties. I did add in a little lard to the meat mixture, just for some succulence for the meat.

Pork & Chicken Thigh Sausage Patties
Pork & Chicken Fresh Sausage Mini Sliders

makes about 26 mini slider size patties

1/2 pound pork loin
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon (more if desired) Chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, rubbed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaved, rubbed
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 cloves fresh garlic minced or through a press
1 tablespoon lard
3 tablespoons powdered milk

Trim all visible fat from the meats, cut into small chunks. Process one meat at a time, till ground similarly to sausage meat. If any fat was left on the meat, it will be found now! As the meats are ground, remove them to a bowl. Add in all the spices, lard and milk powder and mix well but lightly with fingers or a spoon. If making these patties as mini slider appetizers, form the meat into tiny patties to weigh 0.75-ounce or about 21 grams. Optional: Make 4 larger patties for regular sized buns. If making these tiny patties, flatten each little portion to about 1/4 inch thick. On medium high heat, melt extra oil or lard to fry the patties. As tiny slider size, they cooked through in about 3 to 4 minutes, flipping them halfway through cooking. 

I was particularly taken with the thought of the "cherry, black cherry and cherry cola flavors listed in the wine's aroma and flavor. The thought of using cherries somehow in this recipe seemed a no-brainer. Cherry and mustard? Oh, yes! It is wonderful to find a match of a sweet element with a savory one, and this recipe for Cherry Onion Mustard is really flavorful on its own! Granted, we do not generally sit with a bowl of mustard to eat, but this mixture is so flavorful, with the perfect balance of sweet to sour and just enough tang to stand up to the well-seasoned meat patties. I believe this Cherry Onion Mustard would go well on any full flavored meat, and even to serve with cheese. I thought, while cooking the jam, about the possibility of canning this mixture, as it is most wonderful. As yet, I have not researched this, but if or when I do, I will post it here. For now, I have plenty to use for the event.

I realize not everyone has pickled mustard seeds in their fridge, but I do. I felt that they would lend a little bit of texture and color to the mixture. Using the pickled mustard seeds is not absolutely needful. Another whole grain mustard will also work well instead. 

Cherry Onion Mustard

makes about 2 cups

Cherry Onion Mustard with Pickled Mustard Seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries, finely chopped
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup (plain) rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Pickled Mustard Seeds 
OR: 2 tablespoons each Dijon & whole grain mustard

In a large sauce pot melt the butter and add in the oil over medium to medium low heat. Add in the onions and salt. Saute very gently. If the mixture is cooking too quickly, lower the heat. For the first 15 minutes of cooking, stir the mixture occasionally, so the onions cook evenly. Continue cooking  for another 15 minutes, stirring very often, to reduce the onion and very lightly caramelize. From the original 2 cups, there should be about 1/2 cup once well sauteed.

Add in the cherries with the sugar, vinegar and rosemary. Cook this mixture over medium low heat, or whatever temperature maintains a simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes, until the mixture is looking much like a jam. Remove from heat and add in the mustards and stir well to combine. Store in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 weeks

Lastly, the Bread

Tiny little buns
As for the breads, if you do not make your own, simply buy frozen bread dough. Once thawed, use one loaf and cut off small balls, about 25 grams apiece, and flatten them as much as possible; they will puff up later on anyway. Set the flattened balls onto a greased baking sheet and let them rise to about doubled in size. Before baking, for a prettier finish, use one egg yolk with a tablespoon or two of water whisked in and with a pastry brush, apply the egg wash to the little buns, being careful not to poke them and deflate. My little buns baked in a preheated 350 degree oven and were done in about 12 minutes. Depending on your oven, keep watching at about 10 minutes. They should be golden and shiny.

To form these tiny sliders, cut each little bun open and set one sausage patty on. Use about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the Cherry Onion Mustard to the top of the patty and serve with the bun lid askew for a jaunty presentation. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.