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Bergin column: Pork association honors chef with creative dish

10:43 AM, Feb. 20, 2014  |  Comments
Matt Baier, executive chef at Milwaukee's Dream Dance Steak, submitted the winning entry in this year's Taste of Elegance contest to create pork entrees.
Matt Baier, executive chef at Milwaukee's Dream Dance Steak, submitted the winning entry in this year's Taste of Elegance contest to create pork entrees.
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Meat lovers crave thick and juicy steaks, right? Let's say "part right," because pork during the past two years has been the food-service industry's fastest-growing protein.

That means cutting-edge restaurant chefs are giving pork entrées more than a perfunctory nod on their menus. The Wisconsin Pork Producers Association helps this along with the annual Taste of Elegance contest, which rewards chefs for thinking creatively as they cook with pork.

This year's top entry was Duo of Pork, pork strudel and brine-marinated whole tenderloin wrapped in bacon, submitted by executive chef Matt Baier of Dream Dance Steak, Milwaukee. It will be added to the restaurant's menu next month.

Also on the winning plate: romesco aioli, edamame pesto, parsnip puree and a soy bean cracker.

These accompaniments made the plate both colorful and pretty, an artistic presentation. The deliberate and tasty use of soy (in the pesto and cracker) earned Dream Dance an extra award, for best use of soy, because a contest co-sponsor was the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board.

Also new on the Dream Dance menu in March is an arugula salad with pork sausage, thyme-scented ricotta and the chef's version of a red wine vinaigrette.

Matt describes his culinary style as "simple yet refined." He brought charcuterie production in-house after joining Dream Dance in 2011, and that gives him "ultimate control over preparations of the restaurant's bacon, sausages, pancetta and prosciutto."

Chef Jason Demers of Christian's Bistro, Plover, was the Taste of Elegance contest's runner-up, for his clever Green Eggs and Ham. christiansbistro.com, 715-344-3100

Next was chef Vincent Franz of Wild Canyon Café, Wisconsin Dells, for Asian Braised Pork Belly with a Sweet Chili Slaw, Pina Colada Infused Rice, Fried Rice Noodles and Candied Edamame. wildernessresort.com, 608-253-9729

The People's Choice award went to chef Kurt Wagner of the Machine Shed, Pewaukee, for his Spicy Caramel Apple Pork Loin recipe. machineshed.com/pewaukee, 262-523-1322

For more about the Taste of Elegance contest and pork recipes, go to wppa.org and porkbeinspired.com.

? Dream Dance Steak, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, is a dinner-only restaurant and a part of Potawatomi Casino. paysbig.com, 414-847-7883

Here is a part of the chef's winning pork entry.

Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin

(Serves 3)

1 whole pork tenderloin (about 9 ounces)

Bacon strips, enough to wrap

Cooking oil

For brine:

½ gallon water

½ cup kosher salt

6 tablespoons honey

6 bay leaves

¼ cup raw garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 large rosemary sprigs, fresh

1 lemon, juiced and rind added

Bring all brine ingredients to a boil and boil for 2 minutes to dissolve the salt. Remove from heat and cool.

Submerge pork tenderloin in brine for 24 hours, then remove and dry with clean towel. Wrap tenderloin with bacon strips. Then wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Place the bacon-wrapped tenderloin in a Cryovac (vacuum-sealed) bag and submerge it in a 125-degree immersion circulator for one hour.* Remove meat from bag by cutting away plastic. Dry the tenderloin with a paper towel.

Place sauté pan on medium heat; add small amount of oil. Sear bacon around all sides of tenderloin, until crisp. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 1-ounce pieces, three to a plate.

* If you don't have an immersion circulator, the chef says it's fine to sear the meat first. Then cook it in a preheated, 500-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Let rest briefly, then slice.

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