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Archive for the ‘pork loin’ Category

A Match Made in Heaven

 617px-apricots_one_open.jpg If you peruse cookbooks and cooking magazines like I do, you undoubtedly have seen  a good deal of dishes pairing pork and apricots. Some use the fruit itself, and others use apricot jam or preserves or even apricot puree. I even use dried apricots alone or with other dried fruit as a stuffing for pork loin. 

With a pork loin in the frig and a busy day on tap, I wanted to prepare a relatively simple dinner, preferably one that required little last minute preparation. I remembered this recipe, first prepared in April, 1995.  Today is the first of April, 2008, so it seemed destined to be fixed this month. Why not today? 

The pork roast will sit all day in a garlicky marinade with dry sherry, soy sauce and other ingredients, then roasted. Some of the marinade is saved and boiled for a few minutes with more sherry and soy and a small jar of apricot preserves. This sauce can then be brushed over the finished roast and served alongside as a sauce.
The tangy, slightly sweet concoction goes well with the mild pork and calls for a distinctly tasty vegetable side dish, such as broccoli, asparagus or Brussels sprouts. Tonight it will be broccoli. 
Here’s the recipe. I hope you find time to try it and let me know if you like it!
PORK ROAST WITH APRICOT SAUCE
Marinade: 
2 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
1/2 c. dry sherry
1/2 c. soy sauce
2 T. dry mustard
2 t. thyme
1 t. powdered ginger  
3-4 lb. pork loin, boneless, tied 
Sauce: 
2 T. reserved marinade
2 T. dry sherry
10 oz. apricot preserves
1 T. soy
1. Mix marinade ingredients and place in food quality plastic bag with the pork. Marinate in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.
2. Open bag, reserve 2 T. of the marinade and set aside. Remove the pork and discard the rest of the marinade.
3. Preheat oven to 350 and roast pork in a shallow pan  approximately 1 1/2 hours or until thermometer inserted into the center of the roast reads 160 degrees. (This will result in the meat being slightly pink in the center. This is safe with today’s pork and is desirable with the meat remaining tender and juicy. Further cooking will dry the meat too much.) Remove the meat from the oven, tent it with foil, and set aside.
4. In a small saucepan, combine the reserved 2 T. marinade and the rest of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, boil for 4-5  minutes. Brush over the roast, slice it 1/4-inch thick, and serve with the remaining sauce.
Happy dining!

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Rather than roast a pork loin just seasoned with salt and pepper yesterday, I chose to add a fennel and onion stuffing. I got the idea from watching Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. I had everything on hand, except fennel bulbs and fresh bread crumbs.  Fortunately, I was able to get the fennel from the grocery.

I had a few hunks of leftover No Knead Bread in the freezer and with the aid of my trusty food processor, I had plenty of crumbs in just a few minutes. No-Knead Bread is so easy to make that I almost always have a least one new whole loaf on hand. We always start eating the newest loaf and leave the older one for toast, croutons, or bread crumbs. If there is a piece left, I bag it up and stick it in the freezer until I need it.

To make the pork roast, I first butterflied the pork loin lengthwise by slicing one third of the way down almost to the side. I opened it up like a book and then sliced another third of the way into the thicker side (you’re making a tri-fold, now cutting from the middle, not the opposite end from the first cut) and opened that up also. I now had a roast three times as wide as what I started with.  I pounded it out just a little to even it up and spread the stuffing over the roast, rolled it and tied it with string to keep it together while it roasted.

I hadn’t planned to make gravy, but at the last minute, I couldn’t stand to waste those good juices at the bottom of the roasting pan and quickly made up a gravy with some chicken stock and enhanced it with a tablespoon or so of heavy cream and a sprinkling of Julia Child’s pork seasoning.

The stuffing is simply sliced onion and fennel, sweated in olive oil and butter until tender, seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic and thyme, Pernod or white wine  (I used white wine), and mixed with bread crumbs. This is spread over the butterflied pork loin, which is rolled up and tied securely, roasted at 425 minutes for 30 minutes and 350 for another 30.  Let it rest for 10-15 minutes, slice it thickly and Bob’s-your-uncle. You can find the complete directions  below or here .

I try to use up leftovers as creatively as possible. Sometimes, it doesn’t work. (I tried making chili one time with leftover spaghetti sauce. Not good.) Other times, it works great.

We had leftovers last night. With lots of stuffed pork roast and gravy leftover (the little ones weren’t thrilled with the stuffing messing up the pork), we had the backbone of our meal. However,  I wanted to “kick up the gravy a notch” so I added a few tablespoons of currant jelly and stirred it in while the gravy heated up on the stove. It added a little bit of “sweet-tartness” to the gravy. Much better.

With the pork and leftover augratin potatoes, I fixed roasted butternut squash. I peeled the squash, removed the seeds and fibers from the cavity, and chopped the flesh into approximately 1″ cubes. I tossed the cubes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, laid them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for a half-hour or so, until a knife tip cut into a cube easily. They were pretty good, but a little dull. I tossed them with two tablespoons of maple syrup and then they were fine. We have lots of squash leftover. I may make a soup with what’s left. I’ll let you know if I do.

We even had leftover tossed salad from New Year’s Day. Yes, the lettuce was wilted. I added some more lettuce and a little bit of bottled blue cheese dressing. It was fine.

Blue cheese dressing can be too much for me sometimes. I often dilute it with homemade vinaigrette which I almost always have ready. This time, the vinaigrette on the wilted salad was also made from leftovers. For Christmas Eve, I made a beef tenderloin with a mustard-herb crust. I had some mustard/herb mixture from that still in the refrigerator. I added some vinegar and oil, salt, pepper and garlic, of course, and I had vinaigrette.

Try experimenting with leftovers. Just remember not to keep anything hanging around in the frig past the safe amount of time. Purge it the day before trash day and get rid of anything questionable at that time. Don’t leave stuff to grow moldy and yucky. Check way in the back. As George Carlin said, “Is it meat, or is it cake?” Throw it out.

INA GARTEN’S (BAREFOOT CONTESSA) PORK LOIN WITH FENNEL STUFFING

From Food Network

Good olive oil 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions) 
2 cups sliced fennel (1 large bulb) 
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 large cloves) 
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves 
1 tablespoon Pernod or white wine 
3 cups fresh bread crumbs 
1 (3 1/2-pound) loin of pork, butterflied
 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.For the stuffing, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. Add the onions and fennel with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low to medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and fennel are tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Pernod and cook for another minute, deglazing the pan. Cool slightly.

Add the bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon of salt to the stuffing mixture. Lay the pork on a board fat side down, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing evenly on the pork and roll up lengthwise, ending with the fat on the top of the roll. Tie with kitchen string, rub with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Place the rolled pork loin on a baking rack on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F and roast for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the interior of the pork is 137 degrees F. (If the thermometer hits stuffing rather than pork, it will register a higher temperature, so test the meat in several places.) Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the strings, slice thickly, and serve.

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Lee Bailey is the author of several cookbooks that I have read. Every recipe of his that I have tried, we have enjoyed very much. I furnished one of his recently, Honey Custard with Gingersnap Crumbs. Here is a tasty entree that would go well with that dessert. I would probably serve some type of potato casserole and broccoli with this.

This is a quick-fix dish, probably only takes fifteen to twenty minutes, if you practice “mis en place”, and have everything pre-cut and measured before actually starting to cook.

Pan-Fried Pork Medallions with Rosemary Scallion Sauce

Serves 6

1/2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper, white or black

2 lb. boneless pork loin, sliced in 1/4″ slices, and pounded slightly
2 T. olive oil, maybe a little more
1 1/4 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. white wine
1 T. white wine vinegar
2-3 med. scallions, thinly sliced
1 T. each, minced fresh parsley and rosemary
2 T. butter
1/2 t. pepper

1. Heat oil in large skillet. Mix the flour, salt and 1/4 t. pepper together in a shallow plate. Dredge the pork in the flour mixture. Fry meat in batches, 3 minutes per side, until the bottom edges begin to brown. Don’t overcrowd the skillet. Add oil by the teaspoon if necessary. Transfer pork to a platter.

2. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the broth and vinegar. Add scallions and herbs. Boil to reduce the sauce and thicken it slightly, about 5 minutes. Return the pork to the skillet to rewarm, about 3-5 minutes on medium heat.

3. Swirl the 2 T. butter into the sauce and stir in the remaining pepper.

4. Serve the pork with the sauce.

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Of all the canned goods I buy, I’ll wager that I buy more cans of chicken broth than any other. I sometimes make my own broth, if I am cooking lots of chicken parts for chicken salad, or another recipe calling for cooked chicken pieces. If I roast a chicken, which I do more in the winter than the summer, I will boil the carcass for broth. When I do, I usually make something that uses it all within the next day or two and rarely have any left to freeze. Therefore, I seldom have good homemade broth on hand when a recipe calls for a half-cup or more.

I usually buy Swansons, low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth, both in the 14 oz. can and the quart box. I have found, however, a brand called Pacific Natural Foods that makes a 4-pack of one cup packages, just right for those “add one cup broth” recipes. Although not particularly low in sodium, I can usually adjust for that by reducing the amount of salt called for in the rest of the ingredients. It is much better than using as 14-oz can and wasting the leftovers, usually by forgetting the remainder hiding in the back of the refrigerator. Somehow, I seldom remember to freeze that little bit of broth, or, if I do freeze it, it gets lost in the depths of the freezer, only to be confused later with that little baggie of lemon or lime juice I wanted to save. If I was a wise cook, and I never thought I was, I would roast an inexpensive chicken, once a week, get two meals from it right away, then make good broth with the remains, freeze or use it during the week in other recipes. sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me.

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I am visiting my daughter Lexy and her husband John for the week and we collaborated on a great dinner the other night.  When I was packing for the trip, I packed the most unusual item I’ve ever taken with me on a vacation, – three pounds of new potatoes.  I was afraid they would spoil while I was gone and hated to see them go to waste. She had a pork loin in the freezer and I was starting to get an idea.

I looked through her collection of recipes, some from the family, others from friends, and some that she had collected from a variety of sources.  I found a recipe that she had used and enjoyed that called for a pork loin to be roasted with garlic and rosemary.  Since one of my favorite ways to prepare new potatoes is to roast them, I suggested cooking them part of the time with the pork.  She agreed and so we had the basic menu planned.

After the pork thawed, she rubbed it with olive oil, patted it with three or four minced garlic cloves and some rosemary leaves, not too much rosemary because it is so pungent. She seasoned the pork with salt and pepper and put it in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. I washed the potatoes which were nice tiny ones that needed no cutting into pieces.  We rolled the potatoes in a little olive oil, salt and peppered them and, after the 30 minutes was up , we put the potatoes in with the pork.

At that point I started cooking  some “baby” carrots in a little water in a skillet. I stirred the potatoes after about 15 minutes in the pork drippings which added some garlic and rosemary flavor to the potatoes.  10 minutes later, we removed the pork from the pan, set it aside tented with foil. The potatoes stayed in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  When the carrots were tender, I poured off the little water remaining in the skillet, added 2 tablespoons of butter, 4 green onions, cut diagonally in 1 inch pieces, a tablespoon of honey and some salt and pepper.  I stirred this around for the remaining time the potatoes were in the oven until they were nicely glazed. 

Lexy had made some salad dressing earlier in the week and we had a nice green salad prepared in no time flat.

The meat was sliced into nice 1/2 inch slices and it was tender and juicy, deliciously flavored with the garlic and rosemary.  It was a pretty plate, as well with the shiny orange carrots, and the crispy browned potatoes and the dark green lettuce with radicchio.

With the meal, we enjoyed a bottle of Xplorador Chardonnay, a nicely priced Chilean wine that was available at their neighborhood wine shop.  At the same store, I bought another wine that I had tasted a few weeks ago at a restaurant that was a pleasant surprise. It was a grenache from down under called “Bitch”.  I was put off by the name, but having read a description of the wine, I was intrigued enough to try a bottle.  It was great and I was eager to find a bottle to buy for home.  Coincidentally, my daughter and her husband had tried a bottle of “Bitch” at about the same time and liked it as well.

I brought the bottle to my hotel glad that it had a screw top since I had forgotten to pack a wine bottle opener.  However, the metal cap was so tightly attached that I was unable to open it with my bare hands. I had no scissors, or knife with me to break the connecting metal tabs.  What I needed was a rubber type gasket to get a good purchase on the cap in order to break it away from the tabs. I searched through my purse and suitcase and found nothing of use except for a stretchy headband that had rubberized dots to keep it from sliding out of one’s hair.  I wrapped this around the cap and Presto! I had my glass of wine after all.

 Lesson learned.  Always pack a wine bottle opener, some scissors, and a small tool kit for such “emergencies.”

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