The pomegranate is an odd beast, unusual looking and challenging to eat. Cultivated by the ancients and woven into their religions and stories, the fruit is enjoying a renaissance due to a truly modern preoccupation with antioxidants. Traditional cuisines have long embraced it, and American chefs are just beginning to experiment with its complex sweet-tart flavors.
As we entered the peak of pomegranate season, it seemed a perfect time to let one of our local chefs give the fruit a try, and when we called Susan Yurish at Hanna’s Specialty Foods to give her the pomegranate as her secret ingredient, we could tell she was intrigued.
Twenty-four hours later, a mouth-watering braised pork sandwich with pomegranate-chipotle glaze was set before us. The baguette overflowed with glistening chunks of braised pork, smooth slices of ripe avocado and a crispy bed of leeks.
“I thought we were going to do a salad,” Yurish said, “but the sudden blast of cold weather we had was an inspiration to do something a little more hardy.”
Layered thickly on a fresh six-inch baguette, the pork, braised in port wine and chipotle, glistened with its special sauce. The glaze consists of pomegranate juice, honey, port wine and chipotle, resulting in a complex bouquet of flavors.
Yurish told us that she struggled to get the sauce just right in such a truncated time period; in her first attempt, the chipotle was too bold, overshadowing the flavors of the pomegranate. But by the time we tasted it, the balance seemed just right, with the sweet and tart notes of the fruit up front, and the smoky heat of the chile starting a slow burn the longer you savored it.
Adorning the sandwich were thin fillets of avocado and a bed of leeks, which had been blanched and shocked, then dried to a papery crispness for a “lettuce effect.” Unusual but completely addictive, the leeks imparted a mild onion flavor that complemented the sweet and tangy flavor of the sauce perfectly.
Yurish’s passion is good food, as evidenced by the deli case filled with specials like braised short ribs, carrot ragout and cold salads. Her deli meats are either prepared in house—fresh roast turkey and homemade roast beef—or imported. She told us she “wanted a place where you get food you can’t get anywhere else.”
The braised pork sandwich is certainly something you won’t find anywhere else, and as soon as you taste it, you won’t want to look any further.
Look for the braised pork sandwich with pomegranate-chipotle glaze at Hanna’s Specialty Foods, 802 S. Public Rd., Lafayette, 303.664.0200. Visit hannasfood.com.