Mustard-glazed Pork Loin

When you host friends for dinner as often as we do you sometimes run low on inspiration. Luckily there are a host of websites, TV programs, cookbooks and magazines aimed at helping you find something to try. I believe the inspiration for this came from an copy of Food Network Magazine that I thumbed through while at my doctor’s office.

I used pork loin “roast” for this recipe. A pork tenderloin would also work however the cooking time would be less.

Mustard-glazed Pork Loin
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • a 2 lb. pork loin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • heaping Tbsp. Dijon
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Pat the pork loin dry and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the mustards, vinegar and maple syrup together and set aside.
  4. Add the oil to a oven-safe heavy bottomed skillet and heat on high until the oil shimmers. Sear the pork on all sides until nicely browned.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and brush the pork with about 1/2 the glaze. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Brush on the remainder of the glaze, rotate the skillet 180°’s and roast another 15 minutes.
  6. Check the temperature of your pork roast. If it hasn’t reached 145°F on an instant-read thermometer then roast in 5 minute increments until it reaches that temp. If it has reached that temp then remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the roasts to a cutting board. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes:
I thought this paired very well with Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potatoes that I served that night. The savory glaze, with a hint of sweetness matched the earthy sweetness of the side dish really nicely.

Crown Roast of Pork

[Crown Roast of Pork]

Crown Roast of Pork with Wild Rice, Apple and Dried Cranberry Stuffing.

This year we splurged on our Christmas Eve main course and had a local market put together a crown roast of pork. Their minimum size was larger than we needed however it made for an impressive center piece on our holiday table.

The crown roast is formed from two regular bone-in pork loins. The butcher removed the chine bone, cleans up the tips of the ribs and formed the crown with butcher twine. I chose to roast it without stuffing, adding a separately baked stuffing once the roast was sitting on the serving platter.

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Pork Tenderloin Wellington

I made this for Christmas Eve dinner with friends and it came out lovely. I wanted a pork based version of the classic Beef Wellington; surprisingly I didn’t find any clear examples of a Pork Wellington that used a traditional duxelle in my searches. So I combined a bit of this and a smidge from that for something that came out looking impressive and was really flavorful to boot.

[Pork Wellington]

Pork Wellington with roasted potatoes and cinnamon braised carrots.

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Shaved Carrot Salad with Spiced Pork

Our favorite winter farmer’s market has returned and with it a bounty of root vegetables. One of our favorites is rainbow carrots. They come in purple, yellow, white and the usual orange. They are a wee bit of color in the otherwise drabness of winter.

This recipe is inspired by one we saw Jamie Oliver make on Food Network (or maybe it was Cooking Channel).

Shaved Carrot Salad with Spiced Pork

Shaved Carrot Salad with Spiced Pork

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Chorizo, Chickpeas and Rice

When after work energy is low and we want to stay in I reach for staples always have on hand plus whatever is sitting in the produce drawer. Tonight the produce drawer of wonder yielded a poblano pepper.

Chorizo, Chickpeas and Rice
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chorizo, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 sm. yellow onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 poblano pepper, cut lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/4″ strips
  • 1 lg. clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 15.5 oz. can low-sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1.5 cups white rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • kosher salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed dutch oven over high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and heat until it shimmers. Add the chopped chorizo. Stir to coat with oil and cook for about 5 minutes to render a bit of the delicious red fat. Transfer chorizo to a dish and cover with foil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Check how much fat you have in the pan; if it is less than 1 Tbsp. then add a bit. Add the onions and poblano along with a pinch of kosher salt. Stir and cook until the onions become a bit translucent; about 3 minutes. Add the garlic; stir until aromatic. Add the paprika and stir into the onion, peppers and garlic.
  3. Add another tablespoon of oil and the rice. Stir the rice into the mixture in the pot. Allow the rice to toast for about 1 minute, give it a good stir and toast the rice again for 1 minute. Do this a couple of more times until the rice starts to turn from white to slightly brown.
  4. Add the chickpeas and chicken broth. Stir, scrape rice from the sides of the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Check the rice for tenderness. It should be soft and not at all chewy. Cook it a minute or two longer if necessary.
  6. Return the cooked chorizo to the pan. Stir to combine; season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.

Note:
Chorizo is a Portuguese sausage made with paprika. It goes by a variety of spellings – chorizo, chourico, chourizo and variations there of. It can range from mild to hot to blow your ears off. I grew up eating the stuff at my grandmother’s house.

Turkey-Pork-Spinach Meatballs

We don’t eat much red meat. While it is tasty it also isn’t the healthiest thing. Turkey meatballs are OK however they lack a certain meatiness. Adding some ground pork and a Parmesan added some additional flavor. The spinach is just sneak a vegetable in where no vegetable really belongs. 🙂

These won the praise of adults and children alike this past Saturday night.

Turkey-Pork-Spinach Meatballs
Servings: 30-35 meatballs
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of all liquid
  • 2 pkg. ground turkey (~40 oz. total)
  • 1 pkg ground pork (~16 oz. total)
  • 3 slices hearty white bread, converted to fresh bread crumbs (see Notes)
  • 4 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • cracked black pepper
  • 2 large egg, beaten with a fork
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place thawed spinach in a clean dish towel. Take up the four corners of the towel in one hand and twist the “ball” of the cloth (holding the spinach) to squeeze out excess liquid. Marvel at how much liquid is trapped in the frozen spinach. When you’ve released as much of the water as you can transfer the spinach to a large bowl. Break apart the ball of spinach with your fingers.
  2. To the bowl add the turkey and pork, about two-thirds of the bread crumbs, the parsely, Parmesan and black pepper. Using your hands mix everything in the bowl until it is a well combined mixture. Pour the beaten eggs over the mixture and incorporate into the mix.
  3. Make a test meatball with about a ¼ cup of the mixture. Time for a judgment call; is it too wet? If you think so add about half of the remaining bread crumbs, mix to combine and make another test meatball. If it is still seems too wet then add the remaining bread crumbs, mix and continue. If they seem fine then save the bread crumbs for another time and move on to the next step.
  4. Using a disher that holds approx. ¼ cup, scoop up the mixture and place them on a half sheet pan. Once all the meatballs have been scooped pick up each meatball pucks and form them into balls. Once all the meatballs have been formed placed the sheet pan in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
  5. When you are ready to cook heat a dutch oven or non-stick skillet over low heat. Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat up. When oil is hot about a ¼ of the meatballs to the pan. Cook on low, turning periodically so that all side get browned. When all the sides are brown check the temp with an instant read thermometer. Once you hit 150°F transfer the meatballs to a dish lined with paper towels. Cook the remaining the meatballs following the same method.
  6. Once you’ve started the next batch of meatballs you can transfer the ones resting on a paper towel to a dutch oven with a bit of tomato sauce in it. Allow the meatballs to simmer on super-low while you cook the remaining meatballs.

Notes:
For fresh bread crumbs tear the bread into pieces, crust and all, and place it in a food processor fitted with the whirling blades of destruction. Put in the cover and pulse 6 or 7 times until you get a small crumb of bread.

Guinness-braised Pork Shoulder

After searching the Internet for recipes and/or inspiration I came up with this recipe for a braised pork shoulder. There’s nothing fancy here however it came out quite tasty and was a hit.

One key, to any braise, is a pot large enough to hold your meat on which the lid will sit properly. This traps the liquid in the pot and helps cook the meat in a moist environment. I have a Calphalon dutch oven I picked up a decade ago that works well, especially for larger pieces of meat like this pork shoulder. We also have a Le Creuset that works great.

Guinness-braised Pork Shoulder
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 3.5 hours

Ingredients:

  • 7.5 lbs. bone-in pork shoulder
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 bottle Guinness or other stout (12 oz.)
  • 12 oz. water (just use the Guinness bottle)
  • 1 onion, skin removed and halved top-to-root
  • 2 carrots, topped and cut into 3″ pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 3″ pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 Tbsp. black peppercorns, crushed
  • 6 juniper berries, crushed

Directions:

  1. Remove all racks from the oven except one and place it in the lowest rack location. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Pat the pork shoulder dry and trim off any excess fat. Rub it with a generous amount of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place the pork shoulder in the dutch oven, searing each side of the meat. This took me 15-20 minutes total.
  4. Transfer the pork to a plate and add the Guinness to the pan. Scrap up any bits of meat that have stuck to the bottom of the dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients. Return the pork to the dutch oven and nestle it among the vegetables. The liquid will probably only come about 1/2 way up the meat; don’t sweat it.
  5. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the dutch oven and move it to the oven. Cook for around 3 hours, turning the meat over every hour.
  6. Other than turning the meat just ignore it. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk. At around 2.5 hours check the temperature of the pork, making sure to avoid the bone. You want the internal temp. to hit around 160°F. Check a few spot to make sure the pork is fully cooked.
  7. Remove the pork from the oven and place the pan on a heat-safe surface like a cooking rack. Transfer the pork to a cutting board to rest for at least 15 minutes; cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  8. Taste the cooking liquid. If it is flavorful and not overly salty you can serve it with the meat. Remove the vegetables; they’ve given their all and really aren’t worth serving with the meat. Strain the cooking liquid to remove the spices. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.
  9. When the meat has rested you can try slicing the meat. That didn’t work for me so I just pulled chunks of meat off the bone. I cut the bigger chunks into slices. Arrange the meat on a platter; pour a little of the cooking liquid over the top if you decided to use it. Enjoy.

Notes:
One frustration I have when following a recipe is that you can never find the same size piece of meat the author recommends. So ignore the size and try to get the same type. In this case you want a medium size bone-in pork shoulder. If the one you get is much less than 6 lbs. then you’ll probably need less liquid. Have a bit of the Guinness (or I suppose you could leave out some of the water).

You can go with a boneless pork shoulder if you want however I don’t think the end product will be quite so tasty. Bones provide a lot of flavor, even in a moist cooking method like this.

I think I’ve sung the praises of the Oxo Fat Separator before. If you like to cook braises and you don’t have one I think you are working too hard. The built in strainer catches the odds and ends of spices. Let it sit a few minutes and the fat rises to the top. So much easier than skimming fat off with a spoon.

Final note… in an ideal world I could have made this the day before, let it cool and refrigerated it overnight. I then could have easily sliced it and reheated it with the strained cooking liquid. I’ve never managed to find the time to do that however it sounds lovely. 🙂