Sorghum Steak and Texas Chocolates with Johnny Football
By Doc Lawrence
FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS—The great Johnny Cash was from Arkansas. The state has produced Hollywood stars Mary Steenburger and Billy Bob Thornton, novelist John Grisham, president Bill Clinton, and Country music greats Iris Dement and Conway Twitty. Football and tailgating brought me here, reminding me that Arkansas was the birthplace of college football legend Bear Bryant.
It’s game day in Fayetteville, showcasing the swagger of Texas A&M’s Johnny “Football” Manziel storming into town to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Tailgating today had some added gusto.
The tents, SUV’s, customized buses and RV’s are resplendent in the university’s color, a rich red. There are statues of mascot razorbacks, honoring the ferocious hog that is equipped with more intelligence than most mammals and is fearless, often vicious if provoked. Also, it makes some great barbecue and pork roast. Wild game trumps bland industrialized counterparts every time.
Arkansas has its own venerable winemaking tradition and many of the wineries are outstanding. Post Familie Vineyards produces highly regarded wines and I was served some of them by friendly, generous denizens along with grilled chicken, roasted quall, fried catfish and other delights indigenous to the state. Locally sourced from recent harvests, the Post Vineyards Chambourcin is an easy-drinking smooth red with complex flavors that go just as well with gourmet chocolate as venison tenderloin. The exceptional dry white Seyval (2012) is reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc, and I enjoyed generous pours from Dan Palmer and his friends calling themselves a “Band of Hogs.”
Local dining shouldn’t be overlooked in Fayetteville. College towns are by nature exciting and the culinary offerings are can be adventures. Emelia’s in the historic district enjoys a solid local following. Established by an Armenian family, the cuisine is Mediterranean/Middle Eastern and the baked Feta, lamb meatballs, Armenian tabouleh and kababs are representative of Old World traditions with some American flair. Stickybeak Syrah, an edgy but balanced Syrah from Napa was a smooth accompaniment with the spice and aromas of the exotic dishes at Emelia’s.
Arkansas is Deep South with culinary influences from Texas and the Southwest. Our Chocolate Diva Lecia Duke selected one of her productions as a finale for a great day in Fayetteville. “Since Texas A&M was playing,” she said, “a Texas Bourbon chocolate is just perfect. Garrison Brothers Bourbon is the first bourbon distillery built since prohibition
and it is located in the Texas Hill Country town of Hye. Dan Garrison found that his bold bourbon in our fine chocolate produces a true Texas-made ‘shot.’ A great little package for toasting the tailgate finale before going home.”
It’s not all pork here in Arkansas. Enjoy this special recipe from our chef's acclaimed kitchen:
Beef Tenderloin with Razorback Sorghum Sauce
By Chef Lara Lyn Carter
3lb. filet of beef tenderloin
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Remove the beef from the refrigerator and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Pat the beef dry with paper towels. Place the beef on a baking sheet and brush the whole filet with the olive oil. Sprinkle the beef with the salt and pepper. Roast the beef in a 275 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the beef from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of sweet onion finely diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 cups ketchup
1 cup sorghum syrup
1 cup Jack Daniel’s whiskey
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
|Chef Lara Lyn Carter|
¼ tsp. ground cloves
In a heavy skillet over medium heat, combine the olive oil and onion. Cook the onions about 10 minutes, until they are tender. Add the garlic to the onions and continue to cook additional 3 minutes. Add the ketchup, sorghum, whiskey, sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and cloves. Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring often, until it starts a low boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook additional 20 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Pour the sauce into a blender and puree the sauce for 30 seconds. Serve the sauce warm with the beef.