Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

This week, Andrew and Ryder brought in pork racks from Long and Bailey Farms, and Goose brined them with rosemary, brown sugar, black pepper, and apple juice.  The term for cleaning up a rack (be it buffalo, rabbit, or anything in between), is “french”.  Now normally when we french a rack of anything, we trim it all the way down so that there is no fat or sinew left on top of the “eye”–the long loin muscle that is the eye of the rib, or ribeye (and which becomes the saddle of lamb or veal or the strip loin of beef in those respective animals)–and the bones are made long and clean.

But we’ve had a slight departure from norms and thought it would be nice to cook the rack whole, and french it only minimally:  a thinnish layer of fat on the outside to protect the eye from drying out, which is always a concern with pork, the bones scraped only an inch or two down, again, leaving enough fat on the meat to protect the loin.  There are eight bones on a pork rack, and I removed bones 2 and 5 (counting down from the head) so that we would get six huge chops out of each rack.

Ryder seared and roasted the rack, and we served it with a saute of diced king trumpet mushrooms and rapini with chili flakes and slivered garlic.  On the side were buttermilk-and-cornmeal fried zucchini batons (ha ha), and the sauce was a reduction of bacon, onions, and sherry vinegar finished with chicken and veal stocks and roasted black mission figs.  YAHTZEE.  Delicious on the palate and impressive on the plate.

As soon as we tasted the pork I said, “That’s my favorite dish”.  Tomorrow, my new favorite dish will probably be the peach and prosciutto (more pork?  more pork.) salad with Barney’s mizuna and parmigiano espuma that Zach and Ryder are putting on the lunch menu.

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