Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Porking My Way Back to You, Dears


As some of you doubtless know, 2011 (damn those odd numbers, never good) was not one of my better years.  It had its moments, though, including waking up in the ghost town that was Chadwick Beach on the morning of Hurricane Irene's arrival.  (Why were we the last?  As we told the very nice firemen, were well into happy/grilling hour and had no intention of packing up our hamburgers and hitting the road.  Also that hitting said road at sunset with vodka coursing through one's bloodstream is, I've heard, a bad idea.)

So, here we are in an even-numbered year, and I'm ready to throw myself back into the kitchen, and this blog.  Note to self: Remember that you do not mean throw literally; you are barely healed from the CD rack incident.

By my lights, the NY Times Magazine's food articles had reached a nadir several years ago, with the dreadful woo-and-coo barf fest offered up by Amanda Hesser. I think it was followed by some guy trying to feed his kid, but I never stopped to check on my way to the crossword puzzle.  Perhaps it was Mr. Latte.  However, I've been truly inspired by  the mag's new approach to the weekly food article, conceived and written by Mark Bittman.  The stories often careen into Mad Hatter charts, allowing you to map your way to any number of astonishing combinations for, say, canapes.   Bittman offers both recipes and jumping-off points, and is sometimes deliberately vague, leaving you to find your own way, which is the best way of all. 

This week, Mark features pork and apples, a classic combination from Normandy to Nova Scotia.  I was instantly drawn to Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Moroccan Spices.  However, there was a problem:  The recipe serves six to eight people, as do all others on the page.  Either Mark knows a lot of large families, or NYT readers give dinner parties at a mad clip

So, following directions, I sauteed the onions and apples, using the full amount, which I was going to attempt to stuff into a pint-sized (1 1/2 pound) pork loin.  I figured that if it was yummy, I could use the remainder later.  Or eat it directly out of the pan.  If you look at the picture of the finished dish in the Times, you can see that the suggested stuffing cavity is rather small and elegant.  Yet Bittman said, "...make the hole as wide as you can."  So I did, first using the spoon, then stuffing my fist into the little sucker. Far less tasteful, but far more tasty.

Stuffing hot onions and, worse still, hot apples, into the hole made for an X-rated vocabulary in the kitchen.  In the end, though, it was well worth it: juicy, succulent, and full of complex flavors.

For better or for worse, I'm back again.  You can consider that while I go slice myself a hunk of fruit-filled pork.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.