Table Settings

Let It Rain

Sometimes the process of cooking is even better than enjoying the meal

By Raymond Dickinson
Courtesy photo

This past weekend we were blessed in the Flathead with cooler temperatures and rain. This summer has been so dry and hot, accompanied with fires and smoke. I was feeling a little beat up from heat and seeing the devastating fires that have taken homes with them. Saturday morning I woke to blue skies, the smoke had cleared out and it was a beautiful thing to see. Early Sunday morning the downpour of rain outside my bedroom window was amazing. Cool breezy air flowing through the house and the smell of moisture had me thinking of fall weather on the horizon. For the first time this summer it had me thinking of fall foods and slow cooking things inside. When I first started in the wine business, I was living in Eugene, Oregon. The weather had me thinking of the cool Oregon weather, food and pinot noir. I am a lover of many types of wine, but pinot noir stole my heart many moons ago … and it is still my favorite. Oregon pinot noir and burgundy from France are near and dear to me.

Mossy green forest floor smells, mushrooms and fall weather was dancing through my head. I opened a bottle of pinot noir from Elk Cove. I mean you need to be having a little bit of wine when you cook … right? I wanted to cook something slow and low on the stove. I picked up a four-pound pork shoulder in the morning. I portioned it out into one inch cubes. Salt and black pepper on the cubes and then browned them in batches over medium high heat in a cast iron dutch oven. Once the pork was browned, I was left with crusty brown bits in the dutch oven. One onion, coarse chopped, bay leaf, one head of garlic left in whole cloves into the pot to mix with all of the browned bits. I keep the temp low to slowly soften and brown everything. Deglazed with some of the pinot noir and reduced. Pork went back into pot and then filled with diluted beef broth to just barely cover the pork. Temp brought back up to a boil then reduced to a slow simmer. I poured myself a small glass of the Elk Cove Pinot Noir. Dark cherries, red raspberry and forest floor notes jumping out of the glass, with the slow cooking pork from the stove wafting through the air. The savory notes from the bay leaf combined with cool air coming in the windows, a comfy chair and a good book. I was set for a relaxing day. The pork is slowly cooked until all of the moisture is gone and the pork is slowly cooked in it’s own fat. Tender and falling apart goodness. Brown rice and braised kale to join in the mix.

Sometimes the process of cooking is even better than enjoying the meal for me. This day was one of those days. Time seem to slow down, the pressure lifted and life was good. The wine seemed to get better, sip by sip, and was able to transport me back to Oregon. The high clouds, sunshine, slow food and yummy wine has me looking forward to the weather and change in season coming. I know the hot, dry weather will return soon, but for now I could day dream … a little.

Raymond Dickinson is the owner of Brix Bottleshop, a certified sommelier and a wine educator with decades of experience in the food and beverage industry. Brix Bottleshop, located at 115 S. Main St. in downtown Kalispell, can be found online at www.brixbottleshop.com.