Happy Holiday Week! That’s right…Week. Being a teacher has its perks: I may get vomited on once or twice a year, and have 5-year olds tapping my rib cage on a daily basis, but I get these periodic week-long breaks throughout the year. I’ll take it. This week’s been filled with family, pajamas, lots of cooking, and cleaning out my spare room closet (balm for my Type-A soul).
One of the bright spots of our week was getting to see our good friends Ben and Anika, visiting from Georgia. As we caught up over gigantic pieces of cake from Cafe Latte´, we started talking about holiday traditions and how you start them for yourself.
Ben shared this family tradition, which I’m still laughing about: One year, in his large family, all of the older siblings got up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to build gigantic snowmen right outside of the windows of all the little kids’ bedrooms, so that when the younger kids woke up, they got a surprise greeting from Frosty as he peered into their windows Christmas morning…this continued for years until there were no more littles around in his family. I love it. It’s hard to start traditions when you’re always visiting family for the holidays, but Eric and I have managed to start one of our own in the past couple of years. Sometime around Christmas, whether a couple of days before or after, we cook a really nice meal for ourselves. Usually this involves some expensive cut of meat that we would never normally buy. We try some fancy-dancy recipe, then savor each bite with a slow meal over candles and Christmas lights. Then, we build a fire and exchange gifts. Not surprisingly, our one tradition involves good eating and lots of dishes. But it’s our tradition, and I’ve come to love it.
This year as I combed through my recipe books, I kept being drawn to pork roasts. Pork with cider. Pork with apricots. Pork stuffed with cheese and spinach. After a few days of hemming and hawing, I settled on this rhubarb-glazed pork. Eric and I can think of no better combination then fruit with meat, so I knew this would be a winner.
And a winner it was…”a table-slapper” proclaimed Eric as we took our initial bites. This roast is everything a festive roast should be: pretty, with unique flavors, and some wow factor. The saltiness of the slow-roasted pork paired with the balanced sweet-tartness of the rhubarb glaze was cause for rejoicing. We enjoyed this pork with twice-baked potatoes, a simple side of broccoli, a glass of wine, and a simple dessert of thawed blueberries with cream and sugar. If you’re not sure how to ring in the New Year, make this roast a part of it, and you’ll be sure to kick off 2012 right.
(from The Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook)
(yields 6-8 servings)
I didn't do much to adapt this recipe because cooking large pieces of meat makes me nervous. But the next time, I would alter the glaze a little bit...by adding less honey (thus the 1/4-1/3 suggestion in the ingredients). At times, I thought the glaze was a little too sweet, so taste as you go and sweeten accordingly. I also think this glaze would be fantastic with a little bit of rosemary cooked into. Play with it and make it yours.
One 2-3 pound boneless pork top loin roast (single loin)
4 cups fresh or frozen sliced rhubarb (I used frozen)
1/2 of a 12-ounce can (so 6 oz.) frozen cranberry apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cold water
1/4-1/3 c. honey
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 325*.
Place roast on a rack, fat side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Roast in the oven for about an hour or until a meat thermometer reads 155*. (See note)
While meat is roasting, prepare the glaze. In a 2-qt. saucepan, combine the juice concentrate and rhubarb pieces. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until rhubarb is very tender. Strain mixture into a 2-cup liquid measure, pressing as much liquid out of the rhubarb pulp as possible. Discard pulp. You want 1 1/4 c. of liquid, so add a little water if you're a little short.
In the same saucepan, combine the cornstarch and cold water until cornstarch is dissolved. Pour in the rhubarb/juice liquid. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in the honey, mustard, and vinegar. Heat through, then set aside.
Once the meat has reached 155*, take out of the oven and brush some of the glaze onto the meat. Roast for 30 additional minutes. Remove meat from oven and cover with foil. Let it stand for 15 minutes. The temperature after it stands should be 160*. Reheat remaining glaze, serve with meat.
(Note: I used a 3-lb. roast, and it took me about 90 minutes to reach 155* so be sure to allow enough time, depending on how large your roast is. Remember, you're roasting this meat in 2 segments: long enough for it to get to 155* then an ADDITIONAL 30 minutes with the glaze. The recipe I used was not clear on this, and it made me gravely insecure. Now you don't have to be like me.)