Thursday, October 16, 2008

Roast Pork Loin in Beer Sauce

Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings
Inactive Prep: 9 hr 0 min
Cook: 1 hr 30 min
Total: 10 hr 30 min

2 tablespoons butter
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 (12 ounce) bottles beer (not dark)
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 (3 1/2) pound boneless pork loin, tied
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, cinnamon and allspice and stir 1 minute. Add beer, mustard and honey and bring to boil (sauce will foam). Remove from heat. Puree in batches in blender until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Pour into baking dish.

In a large heavy resealable plastic bag combine pork, turn to coat, and marinade and seal bag, pressing our any excess air. Put bag in a baking pan and marinate pork, chilled, turning bag once or twice, at least 8 hours and up to 24. Let pork in marinade come to room temperature, about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove pork from marinade; pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Reserve marinade. In a flameproof roasting pan heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork on all sides. Transfer to baking sheet with rim. Roast in oven for about 1 hour or until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 155 degrees F.

Transfer pork to a work surface/cutting board, reserving juices in roasting pan and discarding string, and let stand, covered loosely with foil, about 15 minutes. While pork is standing, skim and discard fat from pan and add remaining marinade. Deglaze roasting pan over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits.

Combine pan juices and marinade in saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Mix butter and flour in small bowl until smooth paste forms. Whisk this beurre manie in, bit by bit, until sauce is combined well and thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut pork into slices and pour sauce over pork.

Personal Note: Um. This is delicious and easy! ...Just takes time. Pork loin was on sale this week, so viva fall loin! Ha. Eat it with smashed Yukon Gold potatoes--they're ideal for the tangy sauce.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Stalk or so of celery, chopped (optional)
Handful kalamata olives, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp capers
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 or 2 tbsp tomato paste
1 or 2 eggplant, peeled, cubed, dried
Salt, pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes, fresh basil and/or oregano to taste (optional)
Toasted pine nuts (optional)

Dry eggplant thoroughly by salting cubes, tossing, and letting drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Squeeze and press excess moisture out with paper towel.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and fry the dried eggplant cubes.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in another, non-reactive pan. Caramelize onions with celery for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat; add garlic in the last 1-2 minutes of caramelization. Add olives, capers, sugar and stir for another minute or so. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and vinegar; stir over heat until thickened. Add fried eggplant, combine well. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and fresh herbs. Top with toasted pine nuts.

Personal Note: Made this because Robert spied some eggplant at the grocery store and oohed and aahed; it was an impulse purchase (plus, it replaced the okra I wanted to make but isn't in season now for the fancy vegetable of the week). I have never made caponata before, but this looks and smells pretty good. I doubt it will be as delicious as the roasted eggplant and orzo dish I made last month, though...

This is an amalgam of the bevy of recipes I found scouring the internet, which explains why much of it is worded clumsily and has rough estimates for measures. It's interesting how wild the variations on this are...sometime I might try it with some anchovy, green pepper, or who knows what else. There's even a version with octopus!

I want to send it to my mom because she loves eggplant but dad hates it, so she never gets to eat it. People online claim caponata is a dish even people who dislike eggplant like. Here's hoping!

I don't really know how to eat's sort of relish-y, but also like bruschetti topping. And it seems like it'd be tasty topping and stuffing a baked pasta dish, or maybe even on top of penne. Hmm...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Carbonnade a la Flamande: Belgian Beef and Beer Stew

When the cold season begins, so does the season for hearty stews. Known as Carbonnade a la Flamande, this Belgian Beef stew is made with dark beer and lots of onions. We found this recipe in Cook's Illustrated magazine, which is filled with great tips and explanations for the aspiring cook. Of note, the editors highly recommend using a dark beer or stout with this recipe, as is typical of European beers. Lighter beers just don't quite cut it with this stew. The recommended beers? Chimay Peres Trappistes Ale-Premiere, Newcastle Brown Ale, and Anchor Steam.

Serves 6.

* 3 1/2 lbs top blade steaks, 1 inch thick, trimmed of gristle and fat and cut into 1-inch pieces. (Can use any chuck roast if blade steaks are not available.)
* Table salt and ground black pepper
* 3 Tbsp olive oil
* 2 lbs yellow onions (about 3 medium sized), halved and sliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 8 cups)
* 1 Tbsp tomato paste
* 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp)
* 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
* 3/4 cup low-sodum beef broth
* 1 1/2 cups (12 oz bottle) dark ale or stout beer
* 4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 Tbsp cider vinegar

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle postion; preheat oven to 300°F. Dry beef thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper. On the stove top, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; add 1/3 of the beef to the pot. Cook without moving the pieces until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes; using tongs, turn each piece and continue cooking until second side is well browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer browned beef to a separate bowl. Repeat with second third of the beef and an additional 2 teaspoons of oil. (If the drippings in the bottom of the pot are very dark, add half a cup of the chicken or beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits; pour liquid into the bowl with the browned beef and continue.) Repeat again with 2 more teaspoons of oil and the remaining beef. Remove beef from the dutch oven.

2. Add 1 Tbsp oil to dutch oven; reduce heat to medium low. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and tomato paste; cook, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until onions have released some moisture, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and stir until onions are evenly coated and flour is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in broths, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits; stir in beer, thyme, bay, vinegar, browned beef with any of the accumulated juices, and salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a full simmer, stirring occasionally; cover partially, then place pot in oven. Cook until fork inserted into beef meets little resistance, about 2 hours.

3. Discard thyme and bay. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Can serve plain or over egg noodles, rice, or potatoes.

Personal Note: This goes well with par-cooked and then fried egg noodles with lots of fresh cracked black pepper, or really hearty, crusty bread. I also made honey glazed carrots, which went extremely well with the flavors in the stew. For dessert, serve some rustic apple dish that bubbles in a ramekin--Brown Betty or Pandowdy or Apple Butter n' Bread Pudding. A perfect hearty fall dish to make you rub your sweatered tummy. I love fall!