March 2012 Issue
Savory and Sweet
Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes and dessert. These recipes feature the Ohio favorite in meat dishes as well.
During the first two weekends of March, thousands of visitors descend on Malabar Farm State Park near Lucas for its annual Maple Syrup Festival. They come to tour the “sugar camp,” where 700 to 800 maple trees are tapped for their sap, to see the wood-fired evaporator that boils the water off the painstaking harvest. And they come to buy the rich syrup it yields, along with the usual treats made with it: maple cookies, candy, fudge, popcorn.
But a scan of the Malabar Farm Maple Syrup Festival Recipe Book, a 23-page souvenir sold on the property, reveals that maple syrup can be used for more than topping pancakes and making desserts. It’s featured in main courses such as Chicken in Maple Cream — a less-sweet play on the filling usually found in cookies and chocolates. Restaurateurs and chefs around the state seem to agree.
For example, The Unicorn, a steak, seafood and pasta restaurant in Grafton, drizzles a maple pan sauce over a pork tenderloin rubbed with maple syrup and sage. Co-owner Gail Flanigan and chef Gerard LeGrand came up with the entree a couple of years ago as a winter alternative to their peach-barbecue pork tenderloin.
“I told Gerard about the flavor profile I was looking for: sweet and savory, something with maple syrup and sage, but with a little more depth,” Flanigan remembers. LeGrand created the result by adding balsamic vinegar — “It cuts the sweetness,” he explains — and a little Dijon mustard. The result is delicious, yet easy to prepare.
“We cook food to order, so we wanted something that could be done and presented within a 20-minute time frame,” Flanigan says.
Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
Courtesy of The Unicorn | Serves 2–3
1 1-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut in half
1 clove garlic, halved
3-1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground sage
salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon clarified butter
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1. Rub garlic on pork tenderloin halves. Rub pork with 1-1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, then with sage and pepper. Wrap in plastic and marinate overnight or 6 hours prior to cooking.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a 9- or 12-inch oven-safe sauté pan and add clarified butter. Season pork with salt to taste and sear pork on all sides. Finish in oven to 140 degrees as measured by a meat thermometer, about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Remove pork from oven and allow to rest on a platter. Deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar and reduce until thickened over medium to medium-high heat. Add remaining maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Continue cooking to desired consistency. Whisk in butter.
4. Slice pork onto plates and drizzle with sauce.
Chicken in Maple Cream
From the Malabar Farm Maple Syrup Festival Recipe Book
1 2- to 3-pound chicken, cut up into serving pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cornflake crumbs
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup light cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine egg and milk. Dip chicken pieces into mixture, then roll in cornflake crumbs. Brown chicken in hot oil and place pieces in shallow baking pan.
3. Combine cream, milk and maple syrup, then pour over chicken.
4. Bake chicken in oven until tender (about 1-1/2 hours), turning pieces after 1/2 hour.
5. Serve on platter garnished with pineapple slices and currant jelly.
Click here for a savory Chicken and Waffles recipe from the owner and chef of Crop Bistro & Bar, Steve Schimoler. >>