Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall Harvest

With the official arrival of Fall my thoughts always turn to harvests. Nothing says harvest like root vegetables, savory herbs, and farm fresh meats. So I decided to make a Tuscan Style Roast Loin of Pork and Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole. The sweet potato dish is a staple in my Fall and Winter cooking, but I wanted to try something different with the tenderloin this time. I was so pleased with how moist and tender the pork was; it will definitely be one of my turn-to recipes in the future. Enjoy!

Tuscan Style Roast Loin of Pork
(adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook: The Essential Recipe Collections for Today's Home Cook)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 Tbsp dried
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1 very large or 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil, or as needed
1 boneless pork loin roast, 2-4 lb, trimmed of excess fat

In a small bowl, make an herb paste by mixing together the thyme, sage, garlic and 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and enough oil to make a thick paste; you may need more or less than 2 Tbsp.

Score the top of the roast in 1 or 2 places. Rub the herb paste all over the meat and let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour before cooking (I let mine stand for 1 hour), or cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the roast to room temperature, if necessary, before cooking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a roasting pan just large enough to hold the pork. Place the pork in the pan, fat-side up , and roast 45 minutes, or longer if needed. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer or by cutting into the meat. Loin of pork should be removed from the heat when the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F or when the meat is slightly pink at the center. (This is key, I pulled my roast out of the oven just as it reached 150 degrees). Let rest, tented loosely with aluminum foil, for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole
(adapted from Noteworthy: A Collection of Recipes From the Ravinia Festival)

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 lb butter, melted, divided
1/3 C plus 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dry sherry
1/4 C dark corn syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced

Cook potatoes until tender. Cool slightly.

In mixer bowl or food processsor puree potatoes with 5 Tbsp butter, sugar, salt, sherry, corn syrup, and cinnamon. Spread half of the puress in a greased 9-inch baking dish (I use a round, clear baking dish so you can see the layers). Layer half of sliced apples over puree. Repeat both layers, ending with apples on top. Brush top layer of apples with remaining 3 Tbsp butter. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

May be assembled, covered, and refrigerated over night. To bake, bring to room temperature. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

This is fairly close to the original recipe (I changed the preparation of the potatoes before boiling them). When I made it with the tenderloin posted above I made additional alterations. In order to cut the sweetness I omitted the corn syrup and used Pink Lady instead of Granny Smith apples. I also cut out the sherry and reduced the amount of butter used by about half. It was perfect with the pork.