Beverly Stephen - October 2013
The drink Tariff—Jamón Ibérico–infused gin, acorn-and apricot-infused tonic, orange, cava, pineapple garnish
The dish Pluma—Ibérico de bellota pork shoulder loin with honey/chile glaze
The place Coqueta, San Francisco
The people chef/owner Michael Chiarello; chef de cuisine Ryan McIlwraith, bar man Joe Cleveland
The story Not only is the Gin & Tonic matched to the pork roast, the pig is literally in the drink. “We take the 5J bones and pieces you can’t turn into something but that have extraordinary flavor and present them in an interesting way as an infusion in the gin,” explains Chiarello. “And we make a tonic infused with acorns because the Ibérico pigs feed on wild acorns. But,” he admits, “we use Napa Valley acorns.” The drink is part of the restaurant’s wildly popular Gin & Tonic program, which is responsible for cocktails far outselling wine.
When Chiarello was doing research in Spain before opening Coqueta, he was taken by the popularity of Gin & Tonic there (it’s practically the national drink) and the charm of the ritual associated with it. “We had just gotten to Galicia at night, and we went to a little market, almost like a 7-Eleven, and there were all these old men who had been getting together for 15 years sitting outside drinking Gin & Tonics at the end of their social evening,” Chiarello recalls. “It’s a celebration. It’s never pre-mixed but always brought to the table on a tray.”
- 1 1/2 cups honey
- 1 Tbsp. Calabrian chile paste
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grey salt
Place the honey in a saucepot; bring to low simmer (approximately 180°F). Whisk the honey occasionally to prevent it from burning and to make sure all the honey is softened. Remove from the heat; whisk in other ingredients; reserve.
- 1 package Korean chile threads
- 4 6 oz. Pluma pork loins
- extra-virgin olive oil
- grey salt
- black pepper, freshly ground
- Maldon salt
- 24 nasturtium leaves
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spread the chile threads on a baking sheet; bake until crisp (about 5 minutes). The threads should still be a rusty red color; if they turn dark brown, they have gone too far. Allow to cool; reserve.
Light a wood grill. Burn a mixture preferably of oak and almond wood until the flames have died down and all that’s left are bright orange embers. Season the pork with the olive oil, grey salt, and ground black pepper; place on a hot part of grill. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, turning the pork over several times to cook it evenly on either side. If using a thermometer, cook to an internal temperature of 145°F.
During the last 2 minutes of cooking, brush the honey/chile glaze on the pork as it cooks. The glaze should coat and caramelize but not blacken or burn. Once desired temperature is reached, rest the pork on a cooling rack for 2 minutes.
Slice into 1/4-inch thick cuts. Brush on or drizzle with more glaze and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Lay the nasturtium leaves and chile threads on the plate to garnish.
- 2 oz. Nolet's gin spiced with Ibérico ham, coriander seeds & molasses
- 1 oz. fresh orange juice
- 2 dashes Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Spanish bitters
- 1 oz. house-made acorn/apricot tonic
- 2 oz. cava
- wedge of pineapple, 1/2” thick, 2” long (for garnish)
- ground clove (for garnish)
Add all ingredients except cava to a shaker with ice; shake vigorously; strain into Gin & Tonic glass with hand-cut ice; top with cava; stir. Garnish with wedge of pineapple dusted with clove.
Nolet's gin spiced with Ibérico ham, coriander seeds & molasses:
- 6 cups Nolet's gin
- 1 tsp. molasses
- 1 cup coriander seeds, toasted
- 1 cup Ibérico ham, diced into 1/2” cubes
Combine all ingredients; infuse for 4 days; strain, discard solids; reserve at room temperature.
Chef's Note: Do not store in refrigerator.
House acorn/apricot tonic:
- 8 cups water
- 1 Tbsp. quinine
- 2 oz. lime juice
- 2 lime peels, 1” wide, 2” long
- 2 lemon peels, 1” wide, 2” long
- 2 orange peels, 1” wide, 2” long
- 1/2 cup acorns, cracked in a grocery bag with a hammer
- 2 cups dried apricots
- 4 dashes orange oil
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt
- 1 cup citric acid
- 5 cups granulated sugar
Over low heat, simmer all ingredients except salt, citric acid and sugar for 45 minutes; remove from heat; strain, discard solids; add salt, citric acid, and sugar; stir until dissolved. Let cool; carefully strain to remove sediment; reserve.
Chef's note: This will keep refrigerated for 30 days.