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Monday, October 3, 2011

Hearty Sunday Fare: Recipe

Can you believe how quickly Fall fell upon us?  One day we're all wearing flip flops and blasting the A/C and the next we're layering! Don't know about you, but this weather always makes me wander into the kitchen to create something.

Sunday dinner, to me, is one that means business - it's a meal that's too time-consuming to prepare during the middle of the week. Well, at least, that's how I see it.  So yesterday I braised a pork roast in Calvados (Apple Brandy) and coupled it with a butternut squash and prosciutto risotto. These are staples you may have seen on my blog before but they work - butternut squash is easy to prepare and has a mild flavor that even the little ones will enjoy (and everything tastes better with bacon...even if it's Italian-style!).

Braised Pork with Calvados
3 1/2 lb pork loin, center cut
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 tsp. Whole Cloves
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 oz. Calvados
1 leek, thinly sliced
4 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
8 oz. beef stock

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large dutch oven (or other pot that can go from stove-top to oven), melt the butter together with the oil over medium-high heat. Mix together the flour, salt and pepper on a plate and roll the pork in the mixture - fully covering the meat.  Place the meat into the hot oil and brown on all sides - about 10 minutes in total. Remove the meat to a plate and pour in the alcohol. *It will sizzle and steam at this point - lower the heat but be sure to use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of meat - about 1 minute in total. 

Next, add in the shallot and the onion and saute in the alcohol - on low-medium heat - for about 5 minutes, or until soft.  Next add in the vegetables and repeat.  Place the pork back into the pot and spoon the liquid and the veggies over the top.  Add in the whole cloves and gently pour the beef stock over the top.  Cover tightly and place inside middle of the oven. Cook meat about 1 hour, turn - gently - and again, spoon liquid and vegetables over the top. Recover and replace back into the oven for another hour and 15 minutes.  Remove the pot from the oven and keep it covered for about 10 minutes before removing and slicing.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Prosciutto
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 Tablespoon unsalted butter + 1 Tablespoon
4 oz. cubed prosciutto
1 cup Aborrio rice
8 oz. chicken stock
8 oz. chicken broth
3 oz. water
4 oz. Calvados
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

NOTE: Risotto is not for the faint at heart...if you don't like to stand in front of the stove and stir, this one is not for you.  It requires that you pay attention and an infusion of liquid each time the mixture of rice looks like it's about to burn or stick to the pan.  So therefore, you must pay close attention.

Peel the outer skin off the squash, seed, and cube - a total of about 2 cups of large pieces. Place in a medium microwave-proof bowl, pour 1/4 cup of water into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high about 6 minutes or until flesh is mushy soft. Pour as much of the excess water out as possible. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, mash completely.

In a medium saucepan, heat the stock, broth and water together over medium-high heat. In a large saute pan, melt the butter until foamy. Add in the onion and saute - medium heat - about 10 minutes - until clear and soft. Add in the prosciutto and again saute about 8 minutes, raising the temperature slightly - stirring constantly so as to avoid any burning. Add in the rice and coat the rice with the fat from the prosciutto and the onion mixture - stir until the rice looks a bit shiny. Add in the Calvados and stir consistently until rice is well soaked and beginning to absorb the liquid.  Then going forward, by the ladleful, add in the broth as necessary - ensuring that you stir regularly and allow the liquid to fully absorb into the rice before adding in the next ladleful. Repeat as many times as necessary - likely until all the liquid is gone and the rice is rich and creamy and no longer hard inside. When it's near complete, add in the mashed squash and mix well. Turn off the heat and add in the cheese and the remaining tablespoon of butter and mix well.

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