Recap: Swine and Dine at RGE RD
This past week, Edmonton’s RGE RD played host to not one, but two nights of back-to-back RGE RD Swine and Dine dinners. While regular service was taking place in the main restaurant, twenty plus diners each evening were treated to whole hog menu introduced course by course by owner and chef Blair Lebsack in The Butchery that featured Nature’s Green Acres Alberta pork from table snacks through to dessert.
Chef Blair Lebsack has built the RGE RD brand on introducing diners to nose-to-tail cuisine, so it was no surprise to see a wide representation of piggy parts in his Swine and Dine menu. The restaurant’s nightly Questionable Bits plate is described as utilizing whole animal cooking, and often features off-cuts and offal. For their Swine and Dine menu, chef Lebsack and chef-de-cuisine Davina Moraiko were sure to include some house favourites.
In fact, the challenge for chefs Lebsack and Moraiko was narrowing down their all-pork menu – they had too many ideas. While some people may seem challenged to incorporate Alberta pork into each course, chef Moraiko told me pork is so versatile, she could have created an entire menu with just pork liver.
The menu the duo shared included pig skin, pork liver, smoked jowl, pig face (headcheese), belly, cotecchino sausage, loin wrapped in more belly (porchetta), lard (pig fat) and even pig blood – proving that Alberta pork farmers have so much more to offer than just pork chops and tenderloin.
SWINE AND DINE MENU
Spicy Chicharrones | Smoked Corn Dogs | Pork Liver Mousse Donuts
Smoked Pork Jowl | Smoked Charred Aioli | Pickled
Cayenne | Pickled Apple | Crackling
Last month, chef Moraiko created this dish, but on a bao for a collaboration event at Baijiu. For Swine and Dine, chef Moraiko and the RGE RD culinary team swapped the bao out for naan bread. The sliced smoked pork jowl was incredibly flavourful, especially paired with the tart pickled apple; the smoked charred aioli should be bottled and sold at the RGE RD monthly Butchery off – sales. After introducing the dish, chef Lebsack gave strict instructions this dish was to be eaten with our hands.
Deep Fried Headcheese
Rhubarb | Radish | Greens | Chimichurri
Chef Lebsack explained that people coming to RGE RD, particularly for a Swine and Dine dinner, need to try their headcheese. The pig-face terrine was then breaded and deep fried and served alongside rhubarb, radishes, greens and chimichurri.
Pork Belly & Potato Perogies
Cotecchino | Carmelized Onion | Beurre Blanc |
Creme Fraiche | Fermented Ramp
Chef Moraiko is Ukrainian, and she certainly brought some of heritage and upbringing to the plate for our third course. While she upgraded the potato filling with pork belly, she decided to serve her perogies classic by boiling and then giving them the RGE RD upgrade by bathing them in beurre blanc. While the restaurant normally serves perogies pan fried, that was the leftover way of eating perogies in her home growing up.
The dish was elevated from the homestyle variety with slices of cotecchino, a sausage chef Lebsack explained is made in house by first boiling the skin of pig. They grind it and add to sausage, which adds a silky texture. The sausage is then dry cured, which helps it develops all the flavours of dry curing, but then slowly poached, which helps firm up the sausage before serving.
Wood Roasted Porchetta
Nigella Seeds | Compressed Pear | Fiddleheads |
Asparagus | Hollandaise
You won’t find porchetta on the regular menu at RGE RD, chef Lebsack explained that they only share their pork loin wrapped in crackling topped pork belly for large group special events. Our dish was served with seasonal aspargus and fiddleheads, compressed pears, and bright yellow Hollandaise sauce. The nigella seeds were served table side by Chef Lebsack.
Pork Blood Ice Cream
Pork Lard Pastry Gallette | Saskatoon Berry
Chef Lebsack wanted his Swine and Diner to try a little bit of the whole pig, so they served a chocolate pork blood ice cream for dessert. Chef Moraiko explained that it was not that scary – and the chocolate ice cream was flavoured with lovely spices. The ice cream topped a Saskatoon berry pork lard pasty gallette. There were a few nervous people at my table, but after a few hesitant bites, many of the dessert plates were licked clean.
A special thanks to RGE RD owners Cailtin Fulton and chef Blair Lebsack for hosting back-to-back Swine and Dine dinners, to chef Lebsack and chef Moraiko for sharing their passion for pork, and the staff for serving up our Swine and Dine feast.
Whole-hog dishes featuring Nature’s Green Acres Alberta pork will always have a prominent place on the menu at RGE RD. While this Swine and Dine menu is no longer available, many of the bites and dishes will continue to make an appearance on the regular menu or on nightly specials. Try the nightly kitchen board, questionable bits, or experience the RGE RD Road Trip – a multi-course dining experience like Swine and Dine – ideal for those who want to take a hands off approach to dinner.
RGE RD – Eat off the beaten path
10643 – 123 Street
OPEN MON – SAT: 5PM TILL LATE