What Texan doesn’t immediately salivate at the thought of juicy pulled pork? Human nature could be the inspiration behind Chef Allison Jenkin’s pulled pork dish, but we’re sure her creation must have a more sophisticated origin than the desire to please a group of drooling bbq lovers! Thanks to Chef Allison Jenkins and Sommelier Vilma Mazaite, of laV Restuarant (currently under construction) and Say laV food truck in East Austin for pairing Chef Jenkin’s mouth watering version of a Texas classic with Duchman Family Winery’s award winning Vermentino for Texas Wine and Trail Magazine’s July Texas Two Taste.
A Texas native, Chef Allison Jenkins didn’t always know she wanted to cook. As a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, being a chef wasn’t high on Allison’s list of career choices, becoming a doctor was.
While taking an inspiring summer course at Le Cordon Bleu in London, she decided her education would go a different route and after graduating with a bachelor’s in English and art history, she enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America. In retrospect, her decision makes sense. Having grown up around her mother’s catering business in Texas, cooking was always in her blood.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Jenkins began working as a line cook at The Coach House on Martha’s Vineyard. Ultimately she was promoted to become the restaurant’s chef de cuisine. Following a brief stint at Fuego in the La Posada Hotel in Santa Fe and time at Little Nell in Aspen, Jenkins filled several roles from butcher to sous chef before landing at Ajax Tavern. As executive chef at Ajax, Jenkins offered distinctive bistro fare inspired by Colorado’s bounty of sustainably raised meats and locally-grown seasonal produce, while also paying homage to her Texas upbringing with the inclusion of dishes such as BBQ lamb, stewed collard greens and chicken fried rabbit.
Advanced Sommelier Vilma Mazaite’s passion for wine began at a very early age. She grew up in Lithuania, where no wine is made and beer is king, but her family was always fond of having a bottle of wine with dinner.
When Vilma moved to the US, she began working in restaurants and as luck would have it, landed a position as an assistant for Rajat Paar, who at the time was Wine Director for Michael Mina in Las Vegas. Learning from one of the best in the industry, Vilma’s knowledge about and passion for wine continued to grow, setting her up for great success.
Working with Rajat, she went on to help open the Wynn Resort, created a wine list for Steve Kalt at Corsa Cusina and worked with famed restaurateur Paul Bartolotta. Her link to Bartolotta and his Mediterranean-inflected, modern Italian menu ignited Vilma’s own love for Italy which led her to Manhattan. There she landed a position working for renowned chef Mario Batali at his famous Babbo restaurant. In 2009 she moved to Aspen, taking a position as Assistant Food and Beverage Director at the Little Nell hotel.
It’s with great excitement and anticipation for the food and wine loving community that Jenkins and Mazaite join together in Austin, Texas to help open laV, a sophisticated yet informal restaurant, bar and lounge, slated to open in East Austin next year. The new restaurant will embody the essence of French casual sophistication, Mediterranean style and American soul, set in the comfortable surroundings of an old country home. As the space is constructed, Jenkins helms the Say laV food truck located behind Volstead Bar in East Austin.
The Duchman Family Winery was founded in 2004 by Drs. Lisa and Stan Duchman in a quest to bring world-class winemaking to Central Texas and the Texas Hill Country. Their love of the unique Italian grape varieties as well as similar weather patterns to Texas inspired them to work with viticultural consultant Bobby Cox and growers in the Texas High Planes AVA to produce grapes that would allow their winemakers, Dave Reilly and Mark Penna, to experiment with making wines like Vermentino, Sangiovese, and Dolcetto.
As the winery grows, the Duchmans remain committed to their goal to produce food-friendly fine wine in Central Texas using Texas-grown fruit exclusively. Duchman Family Winery remains one of the top wine destinations in Texas!
Vilma Mazaite paired Chef Allison Jenkins pulled pork shoulder with Duchman Family Winery’s Vermentino, “Traditional Vermentino pairing has always been seafood since the wine has expressive citrus notes, green apple and pear aromas. We like to experiment and break rules a little. Allison’s pork is very clean and simple with slight sweetness and spice, so we thought why not Vermentino. It’s hot in Texas and anything crisp and fresh such as Duchmans Vermentino almost goes with anything.”
For the griddle cakes:
1 ½ c flour
1 c cornmeal
1 T salt
½ c sugar
2 T baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 stick butter, melted
2 c buttermilk
1 c fresh corn kernels
½ c scallions
Mix together all the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and let cool slightly. Stir together the dry and wet ingredients, adding a little water to thin the consistency if necessary. Fold in the corn and scallions and mix in the butter. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
For the pork shoulder:
4 boneless pork shoulder, cut in 2-3” chunks
1 yellow onion, 1” dice
1 qt chicken stock or water
4 T salt
4 T chili powder
2 T oregano
2 T black pepper
2 T dry mustard
Set the oven to 300 degrees.
Mix together the dry seasonings and salt. Season the pork pieces all over, coating liberally. You may not need all of the spice mix. Place the pork and onions in an oven proof pot or baking dish, or use a crock pot. Cover with liquid, then parchment paper and foil and place in the oven. Cook until completely tender, about 6 hours or overnight, and then cool in the liquid. Before using, shred the meat and discard any large pieces of fat.
For the green tomato relish:
2 small red onions, finely diced
6 large green tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
½ cup mustard seeds
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 T salt
Combine the mustard seeds, sugar, salt, water and vinegar in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Cool and reserve.
Slice the tomatoes 1/2 “ thick and toss with a little oil and salt. Grill the whole jalapeno until charred. Cool, then remove the stem and seeds. Dice finely. Grill the tomatoes on both sides, just long enough to soften them and put some grill marks on them. Remove and cool completely. Dice to ¼”.
Combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno and about ¼ of the pickled mustard seeds. Check the seasoning and adjust for acid and salt.
Heat a cast iron pan or griddle on medium low. Brush with a little oil and drop the batter on, about 2 tablespoons at a time. When the bubbles subside, flip and cook 1 minute more.
Remove and keep warm.
Heat the pork shoulder by crisping it in the same griddle pan. Toss with the green tomato relish and serve on top of the griddle cakes.
Photo credit of Say laV food truck to Mike Sutter, fedmanwalking.com