Sage – The Wise Herb
Sage is a wonderfully aromatic silvery-gray broad-leafed herb characterized by a blend of sweet, bitter and sour flavors, such as a woodsy piney flavor. Its name is derived from the Latin word meaning “health” or “healing powers.” Often found in Greek, Italian and European cuisines, it is frequently used to season sausages, poultry and fish. Here in the U.S., we sometimes add sage in dry rubs as it lends a strong earthy note to those BBQ flavors we cherish in the U.S.
Most dried sage sold in the U.S. is “rubbed Sage” which is lightly ground then forced through a coarse sieve, resulting in a downy, almost feather-like product, unlike most ground herbs, which when ground are in powder or chopped leaf form. Less frequently found is “cut sage” where the sage leaves are simply cut or chopped, rather than being ground into smaller pieces. Use this form of sage when you want the consumer to actually see the sage the dish. Fresh sage is typically available in the produce section of most of the larger grocery stores. You will typically use twice as much fresh as you will the dried product as dried versions are concentrated due to dehydration.
Always use cooked (never raw), adding it near the end of the cooking process. If cooked too long, much of the flavor will cook off, unlike many other herbs, which are typically added near the beginning of the cooking process to extract flavors from the leaves.
Sage + marjoram + thyme
Sage + parsley + rosemary + thyme
Sage + pasta + walnuts
Sate + stuffing + turkey + walnuts
Sage is grown in the late spring-early summer but frequently used around the Fall and Winter holiday season to bring life to poultry and pork dishes. Here is a very quick and delicious gluten-free pork dish bringing together sage, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. This recipe works as well with pork chops.
Sage and Maple Syrup Pork Tenderloin/Pork Chop (GF)
1 whole pork tenderloin
3 teaspoons fresh sage, finely minced
A pinch of salt
Pepper to taste (but on the heavy side)
1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chicken stock (or low-sodium broth, or low-sodium vegetable stock)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons coarse grain Dijon mustard
Fresh sage for garnish
1. Mix together sage, salt and pepper.
2. Slice pork tenderloin into 1/3-inch thick slices.
3. Sprinkle with tenderloin cutlets with the seasoning.
4. Melt butter in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the cutlets until golden brown in both sides, about 1-1/2 minutes per side, or medium-rare.
5. Transfer pork to plate, leaving “fond” in skillet.
6. Deglaze the skillet with the chicken stock, getting all the fond off the bottom of the pan and into solution. Add maple syrup, mustard, and remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons sage to the pan. Reduce until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Reduce heat to low.
7. Return pork (and any accumulated juices) to skillet and warm until just heated through, about 1 minute. Serve pork with sauce. Garnish with fresh sage.
Enjoy this dish with a lightly dressed hearty salad with strong bitter greens and a side of sautéed crooked neck squash for a balanced contrast to the pork.
Until next time, enjoy life and each other.
Chef David Hall