Q&A with Matthew Fritz, Executive Chef of Rainbow Ranch Lodge

Wine Enthusiast tapped Matthew Fritz, executive chef of Rainbow Ranch Lodge in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, to talk about his innovative efforts in the kitchen and beyond.


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At this rustic Montana restaurant, meats are cured, breads are baked from scratch and specialty cocktails are aged in barrels in-house. The wine list offers some 200 labels with a strong focus on the Northwestern U.S. Wine Enthusiast tapped Matthew Fritz, executive chef of Rainbow Ranch Lodge, in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, to talk about his innovative efforts and get the recipe for his Wild Boar Terrine, a guest favorite.

Wine Enthusiast: You’re an avid outdoorsman, fisherman and bicyclist. How have these activities inspired your cooking?
Matthew Fritz:
I can’t say that any one activity has really influenced my cooking, in particular. Hunting has made me realize how things used to be before there were grocery store chains and other food-service providers. People cooked what was in season, local and readily available. They bought whole animals and used every bit of the animal in different ways versus just the specific cuts that interested them. I try and apply these practices in my cooking. It’s not always possible due to timing, seasonality, available space, etc., but in general, if I can, I will do so. Getting outdoors frees my mind from the daily routine and helps to get the creative juices flowing. I’ve come up with some of my best ideas while enjoying the outdoors.

W.E.: In your opinion, what creates a perfect wine and food pairing, and how do you achieve this at Rainbow Ranch?
MF:
Any good wine and food pairing is one that is well balanced. I like to have different influences present throughout the menu; spicy house-made bison kielbasa for the California Cabernet and perfectly prepared duck breast for the delicate, floral Pinot Noir.

W.E.: Your menu is driven by local, seasonal ingredients. Which season’s bounty do you enjoy most for its ingredients and wine-pairing possibilities?
MF:
I would say that summer and fall are my favorite seasons to enjoy the bounty of local ingredients. The growing season out here typically starts in April and runs until October/November. I can usually count on having a variety of fresh local options available by June, and by July, a good percentage of the products I’m using are coming from local sources and this continues through October. The timing works well for The Restaurant because July through September are some of our busiest months and guests can really experience local, seasonal Montana fare.

W.E.: Which wines on the Rainbow Ranch’s wine list do your guests typically prefer?
MF:
California blends like Orin Swift Cellar’s Papillon or Ken Wright Cellars’ vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs.

W.E.: Rainbow Ranch is known for its barrel-aged cocktails. What dishes pair best with these mixed drinks?
MF:
Any grilled meat or wild game will pair nicely with our barrel-aged cocktails. We have a wood-fired grill at the restaurant, and we primarily use mesquite for the fire. The barrels used for aging the cocktail are old whiskey barrels from a local distiller that have been charred on the inside, which adds a layer of depth to the aging process. The mesquite/smoke flavor from the grill and the richness of wild game and grilled meats blend nicely with the barrel aging and the complexity of the cocktail itself.

Wild Boar Terrine with Port and Northwest Cherries

Recipe courtesy Matthew Fritz, executive chef of Rainbow Ranch Lodge, Gallatin Gateway, MT

1½ pounds lean, boneless wild boar leg or shoulder, cut into 1-inch dice
8 ounces pork fat back, cut into 1-inch dice
1 ounce kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 grams pink salt (optional)
1 cup dried tart cherries, soaked overnight in 1½ cups Port
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
10 paper-thin slices prosciutto

Preheat an oven 300°F.

Combine diced boar meat, fat back, salt, white pepper and pink salt in a bowl and place on sheet tray. Place in freezer for 30 minutes until partially frozen.

Drain cherries, reserving Port liquid and dice cherries. Take reserved Port liquid, place into saucepan and reduce by half, cool mixture and reserve.

Grind the meat and fat mixture through a ½-inch die into a bowl set in ice. Add reserved Port reduction, shallots, rosemary, thyme and cherries and combine well. Make a small patty out of the mixture and cook in a sauté pan to check seasoning, adjust if necessary.

Line a traditional 1.5-liter terrine mold with plastic wrap, making sure to leave enough overhanging plastic wrap to fold over the top of the terrine. Line the mold with the thinly sliced prosciutto, hanging the prosciutto over the side on top of overhanging plastic wrap. Fill the mold with the terrine mixture, making sure to avoid any air pockets. Fold over the prosciutto and the plastic wrap over the top of the mold and cover with the terrine lid or aluminum foil.

Place the terrine in a hot water bath, in a preheated 300°F degree oven and bake until an internal temperature of 150°F degrees is reached. Remove terrine from water bath, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. Serves 8.

Read more about Rainbow Ranch Lodge.

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