Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Recipe for a party of four

By Michele Scott

It's that time of year when I think many of us put on an extra few pounds. I know that I already have. There are always cookies and brownies and pomegranite martinis around. It's hard not to eat, drink and be merry.

I have a large family, so we make a huge meal, but I was talking to some friends who mentioned that it's only the three of them for Christmas (mom, dad, and kid), and the mom was telling me that soemtimes it's hard to do a smaller holiday meal. I'm not sure why that is, but I guess if you go the traditional route with a turkey or ham it might be, although you can always fix a turkey breast for smaller parties, and I have an answer for anyone who likes the other white meat. It's a recipe that's tasty, pretty and not too hard on the waistline.

I would love to hear back from everyone as to what you fix for a holiday meal, be it for a large or small group and if anyone would like to share a great recipe, I think we would all love it. I know I would. I love to cook and I definitely love to eat!

Happy Holidays!


Pork Loin with Pearl Onions and Grapes

If you would like to have a good bottle of wine with this recipe, I would suggest either a Pinot Noir or a Syrah.

Servings: Serves 4.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
10 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp red pepper flake
¼ cup red wine
3 tablespoons warm clarified butter (recipe follows)
1 pound small pearl onions
3 pound boneless pork loin
1 pound red seedless grapes (about 3 cups)
For clarified butter
unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

Prepare the pork loin by trimming off any excess fat except for about 1/8-inch layer on the outside. Salt and pepper pork on both sides. Combine vinegar, honey, garlic, red pepper and thyme in a small bowl. Marinate pork in ingredients for 4 hours up to overnight.

Clarify butter:
In a heavy saucepan melt butter over low heat. Remove pan from heat and let butter stand 3 minutes. Skim froth and strain butter through a sieve lined with a double thickness of rinsed and squeezed cheesecloth into a bowl, leaving milky solids in bottom of pan. Pour clarified butter into a jar or crock and chill, covered. Butter keeps, covered and chilled, indefinitely. When clarified, butter loses about one fourth its original volume.

When ready to cook pork drain marinade and add ¼ cup red wine into a small saucepan and boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about
5 minutes. Pour glaze through a fine sieve into a small bowl, discarding thyme, and reserve. In another small bowl stir together 2 tablespoons reserved glaze and 2 tablespoons clarified butter.
In a saucepan of boiling salted water blanch onions 3 minutes. Drain onions and peel.
Heat a flameproof roasting pan, 15 by 10 by 2 inches, in oven
10 minutes at 350. In heated pan toss onions with remaining tablespoon clarified butter, and salt and pepper to taste and roast in upper third of oven, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Take onions out.

While onions are roasting, prepare pork loin. Brush pork loin with about one third glaze-butter mixture.
Roast pork loin for 15 minutes at 350. Add grapes and onions to the roasting pan. Arrange pork loin, over onions and grapes and roast 15 minutes. Turn pork loin over and baste with about half of remaining glaze-butter mixture. Roast pork loin, basting with remaining glaze-butter mixture, 10 minutes more.

Transfer to a platter. Arrange grapes and onions around pork loin.
To pan add reserved glaze and on stovetop boil over high heat 5 minutes, or until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup. Season sauce with salt and pepper and drizzle over pork loin.