first, i would like to start off by saying "IT'S SNOWING IN PORTLAND! IT'S SO EXCITING!"
eh, hem. sorry. you must all remember that i am from southern california and these types of weather occurences are non-exsistent in those parts.
ok, on to food!
to update, i went home for a few days (thanks for the ticket, bro!) and celebrated christmas with my family. nonetheless, i ended up cooking a little. i asked my mom what we were planning on eating for christmas and she said, "prime rib and chicken." (eyebrow raise) now, you must understand, when i normally ask my mom this question, a notepad with long list of very descript dishes are presented to me, along with drawn out plating diagrams and table set up with said plates on it. (seriously. i grew up cooking like this. and you all wonder where i got this from.) when my mom is that obscure, you know something is up. the conversation ensued:
"prime rib and chicken, huh?"
"what are you doing with the chicken?"
"frying it. karaage. you're dad said he wants to eat it."
"seriously? chicken karaage? that's all i eat at the restaurant. did you want me to cook some pork or something?"
"sure! you can do whatever you want! make a list and we'll go shopping tomorrow!"
oh i see...this was my mom's off hand way of having me cook but not actually asking me even though both she and i assumed that is what was going to happen from the start. haha.
so, i added to the mix a stuffed pork loin, roasted potatoes, a pear salad and a yuzu and persimmon milk custard for dessert. of course my mom had a warm shrimp and spinach salad, wafu cucumber and wakame salad and a japanese sweet potato mash up her sleave the whole time.
to say the least, it all turned out great. my mom's prime rib turned out great (as usual) and the chicken karaage didn't even end up on the table. i threw the pork loin recipe below to give you a taste of what kind of cooking was going on on christmas day. hope you all had some delicious eats!
fennel and mushroom stuffed pork loin:
1 pork loin, halved and cleaned/trimmed*
2 fennel bulbs, sliced (reserve fennel tops)
6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 king oyster mushrooms, sliced (same size as shiitake)
4 button mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1T fennel fronds chopped
butter/olive oil, as needed
salt and pepper, to taste
2 qts beef/veal stock
1 fennel top with fronds
2oz red wine
1/4 cup onion, diced
1T (.5oz) shallots, chopped
*for the pork:
after trimming and cleaning it up, butterfly it open. lay out a long piece of plastic wrap and place the pork on the top half. fold over the wrap on top (like a hotdog), leaving room along the edges for the meat to expand. find some type of make-shift meat mallet (obviously, you can use a meat mallet if you have one.) because we don't have such tools in the hashimawari household, we chose to use the heaviest saute pan we have to pound the pork loin. we also don't have industrial kitchen sized plastic wrap to hold the length of our giant pork loin, so we used a plastic trashbag instead. (my mom is a genius.)
go to town and pound the pork loin to about a half inch thickness. use this time to harness any power from holiday stress or to just release any of that pent up end of the year emotion. my mom certainly enjoyed this part way too much. it was defintely a site to see mom smashing a piece of meat wrapped up in a trash bag with a giant skillet.
but i digress.
preheat your oven to 375F.
add olive oil to a heated pan and saute the garlic and onion. add fennel, then mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes. add sake and reduce. adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. remove from pan and set aside to cool.
after the stuffing is cooled, salt and pepper both sides of the pork. i chopped up some of the fennel fronds and seasoned the the pork with that as well for some added aromatics (plus, it looks cool too!). place the stuffing on the inside and then roll the thing up into a log. tie it with some twine...you can try a roast tie, or if you would rather not, you can always cut 5 or 6 smaller pieces of twine and tie each section individually. once your stuffed loin is secured, heat a large pan and add oil to coat the bottom. over large heat, sear the loin on all sides till brown. remove from pan (reserve the pan!) and place on roasting rack or pan and throw it in the oven for about 30-45 minutes. (use a meat thermometer to check it about half an hour in. you want to take the loin out at about 140F. )
while that is cooking, heat the pan that you just seared the pork in. if there is a lot of fat in the pan, make sure to dump some of it out or your sauce will be greasy. saute the onions and shallots for a few minutes. add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any of those tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. add your stock and fennel tops and reduce down about 2/3. strain the sauce and return the liquid to the pan. you will probably have to reduce it a little more or until you get a consistency where the sauce just coats the back of a spoon. if it gets too thick, you can add some stock to loosen it up. taste! taste! taste! and adjust the seasonings. if it is on the bitter side, you may have to add a pinch of sugar. if it seems really rich, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice. after you think it's pretty darn tasty, remove it from the heat and throw in a pad of butter. swirl it in and you are done!
when the pork is ready, pull it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes. slice it up and serve with sauce!