Zinfandel Braised Pork & Fig Pie

Zinfandel Braised Pork & Fig Pie
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About This Recipe

The allure of Napa’s wine country is undeniable. It's not just the stretch of vineyards under the Californian sun but also the rich history of winemaking that adds depth to every bottle of wine and every dish inspired by it. It was on one of those golden-hued evenings when the Zinfandel Braised Pork & Fig Pie was born in my kitchen. This dish encapsulates everything wine country stands for: authenticity, richness, and flavor profiles that dance on the palate.

To bring the heart of Napa to the dinner table, I started with the most signature wine - Zinfandel. This ruby red delight, known for its jammy fruit notes and peppery undertones, braised with tender pork and Napa’s sun-kissed figs, creates a symphony of flavors. Every bite tastes like Napa; it's rustic, it's elegant, and it's home.

For those of you who are home chefs, always on the lookout for dish recipes that resonate with the farm-to-table philosophy, this pie fits the bill. I source my pork from a local farm right here in the valley, ensuring it’s fresh and ethically raised. The figs? They come from my backyard, but worry not; local farmer's markets have them aplenty during the season.

Let’s talk wine pairings, shall we? The Zinfandel in the pie demands wines that can stand up to its bold flavors. I recommend a bottle from Frog's Leap Winery, where their Zinfandel boasts notes of blackberries and cherries, rounded off with a hint of vanilla. Alternatively, for something smoother, a Syrah from the family-run Shafer Vineyards adds depth with its dark fruits, tobacco, and cocoa notes.

Beyond the dish, for sides, a light arugula salad with goat cheese, pine nuts, and a lemon vinaigrette complements the pie’s richness. And if dessert’s on your mind, a simple lavender-infused panna cotta mirrors the aromatics of wine country.

The valley is much more than just the mainstream tourist stops. As a local, I always tell my friends to venture to places like the quaint Smith-Madrone Vineyards, hidden atop the Spring Mountain District. Not only do their wines transport you, but the views are a sight for sore eyes, especially during the warm summer evenings.

A word to the wise traveler: When you’re in Napa, do more than just wine tasting. Engage with our history, walk amidst the vines, feel the texture of the soil, and understand why every chef and winemaker here has a story to tell. Visit places like V. Sattui, not just for their impressive wine menu but also to picnic in their beautiful grounds.

The essence of being a valley chef is to create chef meals at home that taste and feel like they've been kissed by the Napa sun, breezed by its air, and nurtured by its soil. When you dive into this recipe or any recipes inspired by wine country, you’re tasting more than just flavors. You’re tasting history, nature, and the heartbeats of the people who call this beautiful valley home.

So, the next time you're pondering over a summer dinner idea, or searching for easy healthy dinners that echo the spirit of a place, let this Zinfandel Braised Pork & Fig Pie be your answer. The story of Napa, its vineyards, its authenticity, and its warmth, all baked into one delicious dish. Bon appétit!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Zinfandel Wine

Zinfandel, often described as the quintessential American grape, is renowned for its deep red hue and its unique blend of fruity and spicy flavors. Native to the vineyards of Croatia, it found its true home in California, especially in the world-famous Napa Valley. In this recipe, the Zinfandel not only adds a rich, fruity undertone to the braised pork but also serves to break down the meat, making it tender and succulent. The wine's spicy kick, when combined with the sweetness of the figs, results in a harmonious melody of flavors, making it the hero ingredient of our Zinfandel Braised Pork & Fig Pie.

How to Perfectly Brown Pork Cubes

  1. Start with Dry Pork: Pat the pork cubes dry with a paper towel. This ensures a good sear and prevents them from steaming.
  2. Preheat the Pot: Before adding the pork, ensure your pot or Dutch oven is adequately heated. A medium-high setting usually works best.
  3. Don't Overcrowd: Add pork in batches if necessary. Overcrowding the pot can cause the pork to steam rather than sear.
  4. Sear on Each Side: Let each side of the pork cube develop a deep, golden-brown crust before turning. This will enhance the flavor profile of your dish.

FAQs

  1. Can I substitute the Zinfandel wine? Absolutely. While Zinfandel gives this dish its unique taste, you can also use other red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. The key is to pick a wine you'd enjoy drinking.
  2. Is there a vegetarian alternative for pork? For a meat-free version, try substituting the pork with portobello mushrooms or firm tofu. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  3. How do I store the leftover pie? Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place in an oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through.
  4. I'm gluten intolerant. Can I use a gluten-free pie crust? Absolutely! Use your favorite gluten-free pie crust recipe or purchase a store-bought version.
  5. Can I use fresh figs instead of dried? Yes, fresh figs can be used, but they'll offer a slightly different texture and flavor. You might want to use a bit less, as fresh figs will release more moisture than dried.

Tips for Success

  1. Choose Quality Ingredients: Given the simplicity of the recipe, using high-quality, fresh ingredients will significantly elevate the final dish.
  2. Low and Slow: Braising is all about patience. Allow the pork to simmer gently over low heat to ensure it becomes tender and absorbs the rich flavors of the wine and herbs.
  3. Pie Crust Perfection: If using a homemade pie crust, ensure it's chilled before rolling out. This will make it easier to handle and result in a flakier texture when baked.

Remember, whether you're a seasoned chef or a home cook, the journey through Napa Valley can be experienced right in your kitchen with every bite of this delectable pie. Cheers to the essence of wine country!

Recipe Overview

Recipe:
Zinfandel Braised Pork & Fig Pie
Author:
Lily Anderson
Season:
Winter
Yield:
6 servings
Calories Per Serving:
500
Prep Time:
PT30M
Cook Time:
PT2H30M
Total Time:
PT3H

Ingredients List

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups Zinfandel wine (preferably from a local Napa vineyard)
  • 1 cup dried figs, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 sheet pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork cubes and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, add the onions and garlic. Sauté until translucent.
  3. Add tomato paste and stir, letting it cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the Zinfandel and allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes, scraping the brown bits from the bottom.
  5. Return the pork to the pot, and add the broth, figs, rosemary, and thyme.
  6. Cover and let it simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, or until the pork is tender and the flavors melded.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  8. Once the filling is ready, transfer it to a pie dish.
  9. Roll out the pie crust and place it over the filling. Trim any excess dough and crimp the edges.
  10. Brush the crust with the beaten egg to give it a golden finish.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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