It was quite a coincidence when Andrew came back from his trip to Dallas with not one but two dishes his sister Lauren served him while he was there. And that same day, my dear friend Kristi, sent along an original recipe of her own. So I thought this week we’d salute our Texas friends and family with these great dishes, which are just perfect for any fall table. Lauren is a superb cook and her recipes have appeared here before…her Roast Chicken is the best I’ve ever eaten http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2011/03/laurens-roast-chicken-and-side-of.html and talk about Texan…her Blueberry Jalapeno sauce has hundreds of hits. http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/06/lauren-readys-pork-loin-with-blueberry.html. So when Lauren writes “We love this!” on a recipe, I sit up and take notice.
|Country Gardens last weekend|
Pork seems to lend itself to cooking with fruit of all kinds. How many times have you seen applesauce served on the side with a grilled pork chop? This is a far more sophisticated pairing, a stuffing made of apples and pecans and scallions soaked in honey and stuffed into pork tenderloin. And it couldn’t be more seasonal. It’s high Apple season in Bridgehampton where the Farm Stand was loaded with local varieties that have just been harvested. In this dish, the tart and tangy Granny Smith is used, a perfect counterbalance to the crunch of the pecans and sweetness of the honey. I confess to having been intimidated with the task of carefully carving a pocket for the stuffing. But I managed with the use of a sharp 10-inch knife, which I carefully slipped into the meat and ran down the length of the tenderloin stopping at one inch from the end. I needn’t have been so anxious: I prepped this dinner out in Bridgehampton, brought it into town and asked Andrew if it looked like his sister’s. Hers, he informed me, was butterflied, the stuffing laid into the crease of the meat and then tied with twine in multiple places. The stuffing oozed out the top and, he said, looked perfectly fine. She’d also made an ideal side dish with the pork—a Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms. An old Texas favorite? Quite the contrary, it’s a Minnesota specialty that highlights their locally grown rice. Given our recent “Arsenic in Rice” and that Texas rice is high on that list, the Minnesota connection came as a relief.
Lauren’s recipe for the Roast Pork Tenderloin came from an article by James Villas published in Fine Cooking. The cookbook it came from “Pig: King of the Southern Table” (James Wiley and Sons 2010) is well worth owning. As I have an eternal love for pork, it’s in my kitchen and how I missed this particular recipe is slightly beyond me. And in another coincidence, James Villas has a house in Easthampton, the next town over from us. I first became acquainted with James through his 1994 cookbook “My Mother’s Southern Kitchen”. His mother, Martha Pearl, gets co-authorship credit on that one. Apparently her kitchen was extremely portable as she trekked to Easthampton from the Villa’s native North Carolina every summer. While out here, she canned virtually everything that ever saw the inside of a Ball Jar. What she didn’t can, she made fresh. And she made it Southern. James’s somewhat daunting job in all this was to “translate” his Mother’s somewhat sketchy recipes into something that anyone else could read and understand. Martha Pearl was one of those innately talented cooks who did most things by feel and her recipe cards were mainly memory joggers. James fleshed these out despite the obvious rivalry between Mother and Son which crops up again and again in the book. Her son had widely travelled and studied the world’s cuisines. He was the Food Editor at Town and Country magazine for years. Miz Martha had a lot to live up to. And she held her own. Judging from the comments, the book is something of a bible in a lot of Southern kitchens. Martha Pearl Villas died at 93 in 2009.
|Wild Rice Paddies in Minnesota|
The next recipe from Lauren features Wild Rice. Now if are a regular reader of Chewing the Fat, you know we’ve been inundated with bad news about rice both brown and white. To make it snappy, rice grown on former cotton plantations is contaminated with arsenic from years of pesticides used to control boll weevils. Virtually all Southern rice is involved. And it will be years before the arsenic disappears from the soil. Asian, Californian and Missouri rice are safe. Wild Rice most certainly is. Minnesota is its great producer. So you can eat all the wild rice you’d like. Wild Rice is a great accompaniment to any roast. It brings an earthy goodness to the table. The Wild Rice Pilaf that Lauren sent along with her pork recipe was full of flavor. The mushrooms are a great textural contrast to the crisp rice. The rice itself picks up flavor from the Chicken stock it’s cooked in. Don’t be tempted to leave the stock out as it adds tremendously to the taste. The original recipe called for poultry seasoning. We grow Sage and Marjoram and Oregano so rather than use that I used the fresh herbs. With the bright green of the parsley, they add both color and flavor to the dish.
On Thursday, we’ll be back with Kristi’s soup and our continuing salute to Texas. Meanwhile, here are the recipes:
Roasted Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Honeyed Apples and Pecans adapted from James Villas “Pig: King of the Southern Table”
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled cored, and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 scallions (part of green tops included), finely chopped
3 Tbs. honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Two 1lb. pork tenderloins
3 Tbs. peanut oil
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine the apples, pecans, scallions, honey, and salt and pepper, stir till well blended, and set aside.
3. Rub the tenderloins well with the oil and place on a work surface. With a sharp knife, cut a pocket lengthwise in each tenderloin to within about 1/2 inch of the other side, fill the pockets with equal amounts of the apple and pecan mixture, tie the tenderloins with butcher’s twine to close the pockets securely, and season both with salt ad pepper.
4. Transfer the tenderloins to a large, heavy rimmed baking pan or cast iron skillet and roast till tender, about 30 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven, discard the twine, and let stand for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Recipe for Wild Rice Pilaf
1 1/4 cups water
2 (16-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked wild rice
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Bring water and broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add wild rice; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until tender. Drain.
Preheat oven to 325
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion; sauté 6 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in parsley and next 4 ingredients (parsley through pepper).
Combine rice and mushroom mixture in a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 325° for 25 minutes.