The origins of mead are truly ancient and is almost certainly one of the (if not the) oldest, of alcoholic beverages with archaeological evidence dating back at least 4000 years in China and 2000 years in Europe. It is essentially a wine formed from honey and is known for its sweetness, its medieval charm and its ruthless hangovers. The latter is unsurprising given the large number of complex sugars which in turn break down into skull-breaking complex ketones.
My inspiration for this dish came from my recent visit to Hampton Court Palace – a must visit for fans of Tudor and Jacobean history. The tourist restaurant served good food including a decent beef brisket. What caught my eye was the advertisement for the mead and honey cakes on sale as a specialty product. It was delicious. Honey mead and seeds made for a great combination.
Given the popularity of red wine, Madeira and port reductions, it did seem logical to try a mead version of this technique. What I found was that mead is quite a subtly flavoured drink and I needed larger starting volumes of the alcoholic beverage than I usually use. In fact I doubled it. The result was a silky smooth, creamy, honeyed jus that was difficult to stop dipping in the spoon for tastings prior to serving. This beautiful sauce compliments pork excellently. I hope you enjoy making it.
Each tenderloin serves 2 people comfortably.
For the sauce
1 rack of pork ribs, separated
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 mls) water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
1 head of garlic, chopped
10 black peppercorns
1/2 cup (125 mls) Madeira
1 cup (250 mls) Mead
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock/water
3 tbsp golden sultanas
1/2 cup (125 mls) double cream
Heat the oil in a stock pot and sauté the ribs until they brown. Deglaze with the water. Allow the pan to sizzle again then transfer the bones to a warm plate. Add the vegetables and peppercorns and continue cooking until they become caramelised. The water content of the vegetables will deglaze the pan. Deglaze for a third time with the Madeira. Once reduced to about a quarter, add the mead and reduce by 1/3. Add the chicken stock/water and simmer, frequently skimming impurities from the surface. Simmer for about 3 hours. Strain the liquid and reduce it in the pan by at least 1/2. Add the sultanans. Add the cream and reduce to the required consistency.
For the tenderloin
1 tenderloin of pork (for 2 people)
5 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to180C/350F/GM4. Season the tenderloin. In a large pan, sear the tenderloin on all its surfaces. Transfer the tenderloin to a baking sheet and then cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the tenderloin into thumb-width slices.
For the honey glazed vegetables
Heads of garlic, halved
salt and black pepper
5 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp honey
5 sprigs rosemary
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/GM4. Place a baking tray with the oil into the oven. Boil the root vegetables in salted water for 5 minutes and drain. When dry, season them well with salt and pepper. Carefully remove the hot baking tray with oil from the oven and place it on a hob on a moderate heat. Sauté the vegetables in the hot oil. when slightly browned, transfer the vegetables to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the tray of vegetables from the oven, coat them in the honey, add the rosemary and return them to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Arranging the dish
Plate out the tenderloin segments and the honey roasted vegetables with some grapes. Spoon out the mead reduction and serve.