Friday, October 23, 2009

Perfect fall supper

Tonight's Menu

  • cider-braised pork with onions
  • baked sweet potatoes
  • warm apple-pear sauce
Hot damn, I love me some fall food, y'all. I don't know why I associate pork with fall -- maybe because it goes so well with apples? Whatever, this dinner definitely put me in a fall mood!

My sucky supermarket has pork loin on special for $1/pound from time to time, and when they do I buy a HUGE one and portion it out to freeze for later. So, this was a pork loin roast, cut down from a huge loin. Here's a recipe of sorts, based on what I did to it:

1 boneless pork loin roast (about 2-3 lbs.)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 to 1.5 cups apple cider (I didn't measure it)
1 sprig fresh sage
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Season the roast with salt and pepper and, in large pot or dutch oven, brown it on all sides in olive oil. Remove pork from pan and add onion, sauteing until it barely starts to go translucent. Add pork and any accumulated drippings back to pan, along with apple cider. Tie the herbs into a bundle with kitchen twine and tuck them into the pan alongside the pork. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours, turning the pork halfway through cooking time.

When pork is done, remove from pan and tent with foil. Remove herb bundle, turn heat to medium high and cook cider-onion mixture until reduced by at least half (watch so it doesn't burn). Slice pork and serve with cider-onion sauce.

The sweet potatoes were just baked in the microwave, then topped with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Or scooped up plain, if you're the boy child. He says they taste like candy even without the added sugar. What is WRONG with this kid? Heh.

The apple-pear sauce was SUPER easy. The hardest part was peeling the pears and apples and cutting them into chunks. I used some teensy pears ("sugar pears", I think they were called?) that I bought at Sam's the other day. They are SO sweet and delicious and almost at the point of being overripe now, so I wanted to use them up. I peeled and chunked maybe six of them (again, they were TINY -- the size of small plums!) along with two small-ish Granny Smith apples. I just plopped them into a pan with a little bit of water and let them simmer, covered, for about an hour. Then I went at them with my immersion blender to break them down just a bit (I left them a little bit chunky but you could do a totally smooth sauce by pushing them through a sieve). I tasted to see how sweet they were and added sugar as needed. And that's it!

I don't have a timeline for you per se, but I can tell you that I started the pork first since it had to cook for two hours. After it had been going for half an hour, I started prepping the apples and pears and I put those on for the last hour of the pork's cooking time. Since the sweet potatoes were cooked in the microwave, I put them in about half an hour before everything else was done and then wrapped them in foil and let them sit until serving time.

You all know I love to grill, but I'm so excited that fall is here and I can starting braising and stewing and roasting again. Yay, fall!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Soup weather

Tonight's Menu

  • Portuguese soup w/sausage, cabbage and potatoes
It's been really damp and chilly the past few days here -- perfect soup weather! This is one of my favorite soups for fall and winter. It's not heavy but it really warms you up and is very satisfying. The original recipe made a TON and included kidney beans, which I love but DH and the girl are allergic to. So here's my version:

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound kielbasa or smoked beef sausage, sliced into half-moons
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
about 6 red-skinned new potatoes, cut in chunks
4 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in some olive oil over medium heat until softened and translucent. Add sausage and brown it just a bit. Add cabbage, potatoes, broth, water, ketchup and vinegar to the pot and bring it to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Really yummy and even better the second day!