Chefs are discovering a whole world of incredible sauces that lend well to premium pork cuts and appeal to the curious diner.
There’s no denying the classic five French mother sauces will always be tried-and-true kitchen staples, but chefs are discovering a whole world of incredible sauces that lend well to premium pork cuts and appeal to the curious diner. Taking a cue from countries throughout Asia and South America where pork consumption is at its highest, companion sauces like spicy XO sauce, fermented gochujang and bright salsa verde, paired with a center-of-the-plate cut like a chop, loin or pulled pork, can heighten flavors to make a lasting impression and encourage repeat visits. Here are three innovative ways to elevate premium pork cuts using inspiration from around the world.
1. Show off creative classics
Diners already have a basic familiarity with the ingredients and flavors of dishes from Mexico, making it easier to integrate more authentic, regional sauces onto the menu. Bone-in chops can heighten the center of the plate, particularly leveraging sauces for eye-catching presentations to wow customers. At Meso Maya, a Oaxaca-style Mexican restaurant with six locations throughout Texas, the Chuleta de Puerco showcases a beautiful fire-roasted, bone-in pork chop atop a bed of colorful Pipian Rojo sauce (traditionally made with charred tomatoes, chiles and ground seeds or nuts) and creamed corn. Or, use creative takes on salsa to add depth and acidity, like Cantina Laredo does in Chicago, using salsa cruda (a raw salsa verde popular in Mexico) to present a 16-oz. bone-in chop with chipotle pumpkin puree, pan-seared Brussels sprouts, black radish and micro cilantro.
2. Introduce adventurous new flavors
Not all diners need hand-holding to try something new. The allure of unfamiliar flavors offers an opportunity for the server to provide consumer education and storytelling that can capture an order. Pork, beer and barbecue are all ingredients that resonate with consumers, but the Philippine-style grilled spare ribs at F.O.B. in New York City takes new life when braised in San Miguel beer and slathered with a house-made Filipino banana barbecue sauce. Rethink the viscosity of sauces and try experimenting with glazes, which are another way to impart bold flavor and texture. A Thai-style sticky glaze might typically be used in wing applications, but, paired with papaya salad and sticky rice, it gives an interesting twist to the pork shank entr├®e at Service Bar in Columbus, Ohio.
3. Make your own mash-ups
After getting a handle on the flavor profile of a certain sauce, it’s time to get creative. Pairing imaginative combinations of ingredients and sauces that are not typically featured together is not only attention grabbing, but also a way to add premium positioning on the menu. Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, a Phoenix-based New American restaurant, uses a Mediterranean harissa jus for its braised pork shank with Southern-style sausage, red beans and baby chard. After getting a hefty amount of smoke imparted from the wood-burning oven, the Kan Kan chop at modern Pan-Latin restaurant Toro Toro in Miami is plated with cilantro sauce and tomatillo kimchi, bibb lettuce, ara├▒itas (Puerto Rican plantain fritters), rice, beans and chorizo.