Pork Medallions with Currants and Scotch

by Hilary Gauntt on March 24, 2017

I’ve enjoyed a number of recipes combining pork or salmon with bourbon, but never Scotch! There should be a plaque on the wall of the Dewar’s factory in Aberfeldy, Scotland, thanking Casey for his daily nightcap (daily nightcap???) so I knew this was worth checking out. The Scotch blends with butter, Dijon mustard and brown sugar; and the alcohol burns off leaving a lovely flavor that even a non Scotch drinker will enjoy. Quick and easy from the Jr. League of Arkansas cookbook, “Sensational Seasons: A Taste and Tour of Arkansas”.

1/3 cup currants

1/2 cup Scotch whisky

2 pork tenderloins, about 3/4 to 1 pound each, visible fat removed

Salt and ground black pepper

2 Tbs. butter

3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

3 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tsp. dried thyme

Combine the currants and Scotch in a bowl and set aside. Cut the tenderloins into 3/4 inch fillets. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the fillets quickly, allowing about one minute per side. Reduce heat and cook an additional 5 minutes per side.

Remove the fillets and keep warm. Pour off any accumulated fat. Drain the currants, reserving the Scotch. Add the Scotch to the drippings in the pan, stirring to scrape up the crusty bits on the bottom. Stir in the mustard, sugar, broth, and thyme. Whisk until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil to thicken slightly. Reduce the heat and add the currants and fillets. Cover the pan and heat the fillets in the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.

Note: I cooked the fillets for a shorter time to make sure when they were reheated with the sauce they were still juicy and slightly pink. I was using just one tenderloin that weighed 1 1/3 pounds, so went ahead with the full amount of sauce which I didn’t regret, as it is tasty!

Scotch pork


Today is my sweet Mother’s 90th Birthday!!! She has inspired my life-long love affair with food, and is the reason I associate cooking with Love. I can still picture her before dinner in her lovely kitchen, listening to her small radio and chopping and dicing away. This recipe was her special appetizer that was served to guests and appeared at holidays.

One year for Christmas she asked for the latest cooking appliance from France, something exciting and sophisticated called a “Cuisinart” . If I am remembering correctly, this pate was in the recipe booklet that came with the machine, and it does make perfect use of it. It is fairly simple to make and very impressive. You combine cooked chicken with smoky almonds, onion, Tabasco, brandy and a little melted butter, and puree until smooth. Place in a mold or bowl and chill until serving time. I remember the first time my young children were presented with this, and I thought at best they would just nibble on the crackers. To my surprise they gobbled it up! When I made it last weekend to take to our friends for dinner, both Brittany and Casey demolished the leftovers; saying how much they remember enjoying it all those years ago. So Mom, in honor of this landmark birthday, it’s Back!

I’m going to transcribe the recipe just how it was presented to me half a lifetime ago.

Soak 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin in 1/2 cup water to soften, then bring to a boil. Combine with 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1 1/2 cups coarse chopped onion, 1/2 c. ground smokehouse almonds (6 ounces), 1/4 cup mayonnaise,, 1/4 teaspoon salt, dash pepper, dash Tabasco, 2 tablespoons melted butter and 2 tablespoons brandy. Place 1/3 mixture in blender or Cuisinart and combine until fairly smooth. Repeat with remaining mixture. Spoon into small bowl or 3 cup mold. Chill several hours or overnight. Unmold on lettuce leaves and serve with rye crackers (or other cracker), cornichons or sliced pickle.

Note: Today’s Cuisinarts are larger, so no need for three batches to puree this. You can buy cocktail rye bread and dry it in the oven to make a rye cracker. I served it with small gems lettuce leaves for the ones on a low carb diet!

moms appetizer

Mom making Christmas cookies with her grandchildren in 1987.

Mom and kids


Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew

by Hilary Gauntt on March 11, 2017

Regina Schrambling is a contributor to the New York Times, and brought this recipe to them in the dark days in 2001 following the attack on the World Trade Center. “Long before there were anti-depressants, ” she wrote, “there was stew”. She explains that comfort food is what someone cooks for you. Comfort cooking is what you do for yourself.

This is a recipe she has made every winter since she learned it in cooking school 18 years ago. I love how she describes the meditative and visceral experience of creating this stew…”Cooking is the most sensual activity a human being can engage in, in polite company. My stew involved smells (onions softening, Cognac reducing), touch (the chopping, the stirring) sound ( sizzle of beef cubes hitting hot fat) sight (carrot orange against the gold-brown of mustard and beef stock), and especially taste. Making it is a way to feel alive and engaged.”

Well are you ready to give this a try after that sales pitch? Make this when you have time to indulge all your senses, as it can’t really be rushed. But what a wonderful way to spend a wintery afternoon.

1/4 pound salt pork, dice (or pancetta or bacon)

1 large onion, finely diced

3 shallots, chopped

2 to 4 Tbs. butter, as needed

2 pounds beef chuck, in 1-inch cubes

2 Tbs. flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 Tbs. butter, as needed

1/2 cup Cognac (or Brandy, dry sherry)

2 cups beef stock

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

4 Tbs. Pommery mustard

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin half-moon slices

1/2 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered

1/4 cup red wine

Place salt pork in a Dutch oven or a large heavy kettle over low heat, and cook until fat is rendered. Remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon, and discard. Raise the heat, and add onion and shallots, Cook until softened but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.

If necessary, add 2 Tbs. butter to the pan to augment fat. Dust beef cubes with flour, and season with salt and pepper. Shake off excess flour, and place half the cubes in the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until well browned, almost crusty, on all sides, then transfer to the bowl with the onions. Repeat with remaining beef.

Add Cognac to the empty pan, and cook, stirring, until the bottom is deglazed and the crust comes loose. Add stock, Dijon mustard and 1 Tbs. Pommery mustard. Whisk to blend, then return meat and onions mixture to pan. Lower heat, cover the pan and simmer gently until the meat is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Add the carrots, and continue simmering for 30 minutes, or until slices are tender. As they cook, heat 2 Tbs. butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and saute mushrooms until browned and tender.

Stir mushrooms into the stew along with remaining mustard and red wine. Simmer 5 minutes, then taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot. 4 to 6 servings.

Note: I used bacon instead of salt pork and did NOT discard the delicious cooked pieces but saved them for breakfast. If you are worried there will be too strong a mustard flavor (I was) then cut back the amounts a bit. I also added more carrots and mushrooms than called for. Even toss in some cubed Yukon gold potatoes if you wish. Great the next day, maybe even better!

dijon stew


White Bean Chicken Chili

by Hilary Gauntt on March 4, 2017

This recipe is not authentic, but full of the best Mexican flavors and ingredients even though they come from cans, dried spices, and leftover chicken! Easy and quick to prepare, it is tasty and satisfying and perfect to make ahead and take to a friend needing a warming meal. The fresh corn gives a nice crunch, and when you pile on toppings of avocado, cheese and sour cream it’s a meal in a bowl. For more heat, add chili flakes, sriracha sauce, or perhaps a fresh jalapeno or two. Credit for this great recipe to Thea of allrecipes.com . Tonight is the academy awards and my dinner is already waiting in the wings!

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

1 (16 ounce) jar of mild Salsa Verde

1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes (stewed or fire roasted good)

1 ( 7 ounce) can diced green chiles

1/2 tsp. dried orgeano

1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

2 ears fresh corn (or canned)

1 pound diced, cooked chicken meat

1 (15 ounce) can white beans (or two)

1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste


Cilantro, sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips, grated cheese, lime squeeze

Heat the oil, and cook the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the broth, salsa verde, tomatoes, chilies, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the corn, chicken, and beans; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with toppings. Serves 4.

chicken chili

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