Chef Chris Aerni and his wife Graziella searched all of Canada for a place to set up shop. They’ve now been the owners and operators of the hotel, restaurant and bar of the Rossmount Inn, just outside of St. Andrews for 20 years now.
They’ve developed quite the reputation in that time.
“It’s the beauty of the land, and the bounty of incredibly high-quality products, which kind of brought us here,” Aerni said.
With over 30 years in the food and hospitality business, the Swiss-born-and-trained chef has worked on three continents, and chose New Brunswick as his home.
He knows the pool, the mountain, and the area are big draws for his guests. But he’s pretty sure most people visit because of the warm hospitality and mostly, the great food. And he has fully embraced regional farm products and tries to reflect them in his menus.
“It’s very important to have a variety of local products,” he said. “So we could identify ourselves with those products.”
And, of course, that includes maple syrup.
Whether the abundance of seafood, foraged mushrooms and sea parsley, or products from small organic farmers, selecting the proper ingredients is clearly a part of the lifestyle that appeals to Aerni.
For us, Aerni prepared a pork belly dish, paired with barrel-aged maple syrup from Wabanaki. He said he was delighted to discover Wabanaki’s products, and the nuances in maple flavour the barrel-aged process brings out.
This recipe is for maple glazed pork belly, apple cilantro slaw, and sweet potato puree.
The pork belly is prepared in a slow cooking method with a sous vide process and can be stored for several days in a refrigerated area before serving.
The sweet potato puree and apple cilantro slaw are prepared just before serving the dish.
Also, makes a great appetizer.
- 450 gram (1 lbs) pork belly uncooked
- 15 grams freshly chopped ginger
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 piece star anis
- Salt to season
- White pepper
- 1 oz. Wabanaki maple syrup
Sweet Potato Puree
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 oz butter.
- ½ jalapeno
Apple Cilantro Slaw
- 1 large honey crisp apple
- ½ oz apple cider vinegar
- Fresh cilantro
- 1oz maple syrup
- ½ oz soy sauce (mild)
- Season the pork belly with salt and the white pepper ( twice the amount you would use for a steak)
- Crush the star anis and rub onto the pork belly with the fresh thyme and ginger.
- Place the pork belly into a food sealer or vacuum pack bag, add the maple syrup and seal the bag.
- Cook immersed in water (sous vide) at 72 degrees Celsius for 24 hours. Remove and let cool down without removing it from the bag. (The pork belly can be stored for several days in a refrigerated area).
Sweet Potato Puree
- Wash the unpeeled sweet potato, wrap in tin foil and bake in an oven at 375 degrees Celsius until it has a soft squeeze to the touch and/or you can smell caramelization.
- Remove foil and skin and smash in a bowl adding the hot melted butter and season with salt and the finely chopped jalapeno.
Apple Cilantro Slaw
- Combine the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and soya sauce in a bowl with a whisk.
- Cut the apple into fine stripes (julienne) , chop the cilantro and add to the dressing.
To finish the dish remove the pork belly from the vacuum bag. Clean off all access fats and juices and dry with a kitchen towel. Cut into 6 equal sized pieces.
Sear in a non stick pan on both sides until golden brown. To make sure it is hot to the center, finish in the oven for 5 minutes.
To serve: Place a couple of soup spoons of the sweet potato puree on a plate. Place the pork belly on top of the puree. Garnish with the apple salad. Drizzle some of the dressing across the dish.
Chef Chris Aerni, owner of the Rossmount Inn
Chris Aerni is the owner and chef of the Rossmount Inn. A hotel, restaurant and bar just outside of St. Andrews. He brings over three decades of experience to the kitchen, and is passionate about the quality of local ingredients he can use from New Brunswick on his menus.