Our Grocery Manager, Eddie Dick, has recently added some fun new products; some familiar, others novel. Entirely new to us: banana vinegar from Rancho-Gordo. Mildly fruity, slightly tropical and unique, this vinegar is a product of the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project. The project consist of two companies helping small farmers in Mexico to continue to grow their indigenous crops. There is concern that international trade policies seem to discourage genetic diversity and local food traditions which can be dispiriting to many farmers of heirloom strains. The Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project brings vitality to those farmers and to our cooking at home.
How can we use it? Rancho Gordo has some suggestions on its website that have been fun to consider. Our Chef, Curtis Wright, did some of his own experimentation and found that it works well both as a salad dressing and with venison. This tangy vinegar is not what you might expect from banana, it is bright and not cloying. The banana flavor really comes through when a sweetener such as honey or agave is added.
The following dressing can be made for use with salad (Cucumber Salad shown below) as well as with meat (shown here with venison). Mint was a perfect complement to the bright tartness of the banana vinegar, which we added to both the salad and the finished venison.
BANANA VINEGAR DRESSING
1/4 Cup Banana Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Honey
1/2 teaspoon toasted/ground Coriander
1/4 teaspoon toasted/ground Cumin Seed
1 teaspoon Salt (+/- to taste)
2-3 Tablespoons EVOO
3/4 Cup Carrots (thin bias chop)
1 1/2 Cups Cucumbers (halved, sliced thin)
1/2 Cup Red Spring Onion, or Green Onion (thin chop)
1 small Jalapeno or Serrano Pepper (halved, sliced thin)
2 Tablespoons Mint (rough chop)
2 Tablespoons Cilantro (rough chop)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 teaspoons toasted/ground coriander
2 teaspoons toasted/ground cumin seed
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
Dry rub both sides of your steak or venison with the ingredients at least 15 minutes before cooking. Heat a cast iron skillet with 2 Tablespoons high smoking point oil (grape seed oil preferably). Once oil is smoking, put steak in the pan and sear until crispy and brown. Flip and cook other side, depending on thickness of steak, lower temperature and cook until desired wellness. Drizzle with the banana vinegar dressing and add fresh mint before serving.
Try some of Rancho Gordos suggested recipes here: