Alright, folks... it's another birthday blog post! And you know what that means - weird, crazy ingredients and odd combinations! We will not disappoint you in this post, it's another one for the books! John's chosen ingredients were: wild boar and bourbon.
Starter Note - Bourbon
Shout out to my brother in law for dropping this off the morning of our dinner. He received a few bottles as a gift and unknowingly upped our game for our blog night. (Sorry, Jim Beam.) This boutique distillery makes only so many barrels per batch, so it is definitely a more refined bourbon. Also, it is 124.7 proof. I probably should have looked at that before I went hog wild.
Cocktail - Maple Bourbon Smash
Just FYI - figs kind of became the third ingredient solely because a massive flat of about 2lbs of fresh ones were insanely cheap at Trader Joe's on Saturday morning and I just needed an excuse to buy them! This fun cocktail was a mix of bourbon, orange juice, maple syrup, lemon juice, bitters, and seltzer... definitely a perfect "gearing into fall" cocktail. But keep it at one... remember, this was almost 125 proof!
Hors D'Oeuvres - Bourbon Duck Bites and Bacon Wrapped Bourbon Figs
I'm going to start with the figs - they are easy! They are tasty! They are a classic! You can't go wrong with something like this. We did use the fresh figs and therefore added some bourbon to the bottom of each hollowed out fig before stuffing it. Let's talk duck. Let's talk about how the one dish that we were the most unsure of turned out to be the hit of the night. Literally... "like chicken nuggets on crack." I did half the recipe - but should have kept the bourbon the same, because it is soaked up by the fried duck so quickly that there is no "sauce." But, my God... unanimous decision around the table - biggest surprise of the night!
Appetizer - Bourbon Braised Short Ribs with Honey and Fig Mac & Cheese
Can you just smell the decadence coming off your computer??? We pretty much followed the short rib recipe but then played around with the cheeses. I could not, for the life of me, find honey fig cheese. Sooo... I found honey goat cheese and then a gruyere-cheddar mix from Trader Joe's. Perfect! I added some chopped fresh figs to the short ribs while braising to make up for the lack of fig. Delicious!!! This alone was a meal.
Appetizer - Mixed Green Salad with Bourbon Vinaigrette
We figured a salad had to fit in somewhere, so we threw it on the side of the macaroni and cheese. We used some extra bacon from earlier and topped with some fresh sliced figs. The vinaigrette was tasty and honestly was not strong.
Appetizer Wine - 2013 Pio Cesare Dolcetto d'Alba
This Italian red is fruity, fresh and fragrant. However, it has nice structure, round tannins, and a slight spice to it that makes it a beautiful accompaniment to wild game!
Entree - Rack of Wild Boar with Sweet Potato, Apple, and Celery Root Puree Finished With a Roasted Garlic Onion Sauce
This is a 2-day recipe. The wild boar needs to marinate. The onion sauce has multiple components. There is a caramelized onion jam that gets added to the sauce - that jam was made a day in advance. (And the leftovers were delicious over pork chops!) However, it all comes together very quickly. The celery root and sweet potato puree is fantastic, the asparagus is always a great side, and the meat was tender! It really did taste like a jazzed up pork chop. The sauce was scrumptious - take the time to make it yourself... don't skip it!!!
Entree Wien - 20012 La Fortuna Rosso Di Montalcino
We stuck with Italy for this blog dinner and the next wine did not disappoint! This red is fruit intense but has an admirable acidity. It is full bodied, dry, and rich with a subtle spiciness and a softness hiding among the structured tannins.
Dessert - Hazelnut and Bourbon Torte
Ummm.. yum. Enough. Bourbon and hazelnuts. Can't get any better than that. Oh, wait.. it can? How about that 125 proof bourbon poured for an aperitif that was too strong for the sissies in the group (aka moi) and then poured over the torte instead... yup.. it can get better!
So there you go - another birthday blog post for the records!!! Can't wait to see what is next!!!