The Joys Of A Gigantic Kitchen

21 Feb

I did the good daughter thing this weekend. I headed up the river and into the great white north where my mom was bored and stuck in the house with my ski-accident-ridden-step-father. I got her out of the house, took her shopping, but most importantly (to me), I took the burden of cooking off her shoulders! A huge, modern kitchen all to myself!

Saturday night was maple & apple braised pork tenderloin with braised garlicky kale and leftover Thanksgiving stuffing.
The pork was magnificent! The incredible crust and maple flavor came from allowing the pork to wallow in this amazing, local spice blend prior to braising in apple cider vinegar and some of the un-fermented stuff. (full recipes below)

Sunday night was the big night, with the whole family gathering at the old homestead to relax, watch curling, eat cheese (from the awesome local co-op) and drink tons and tons of wine (which, quite by chance just happened to be The Kitchen’s “wine of the week“!). Dinner was more pork. Mixed sausage & broccooli rabe with caramelized onions and mushrooms over whole wheat pasta. It was delicious, healthy, easy and got rave reviews all around!

Going home always seems so stressful at first, the train ride, the questioning parents, but in the end, it’s always lovely, relaxing and fun, especially when my mom lets me cook, or in the summer, join her in the gardening. But, enough of my musings, on to the recipes.

Maple & Apple Braised Pork Tenderloin
prep: 10mins ~ cooking time: at least 1 hour

  • 2lbs Pork Tenderloin
  • 2tbps Maple Garlic Kick (order here and don’t stop with just this one, they’re all tasty, salt free and downright useful)
  • 2tbsps Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 cups Good, Local Apple Cider (like the stuff from this orchard, available from time to time at the Union Square Farmer’s Market)

Set oven to 350 degree F.

Massage your pork with the olive oil, then pat the Maple Rub all over.
Allow your pork to wallow in the spice and oil mixture for about 10-15minutes.

Meantime, heat some of the oil in a large, heavy dutch oven. When oil is hot and pork is happy, brown the meat all over. When brown, caaaaaaarefully add the vinegar (it will foam and hiss and possibly let off a somewhat interesting odor, but trust me, it’s worth it!). When the vinegar has reduced slightly, add the apple cider. If your pork doesn’t look well bathed in the cider, add a little water so that at least half of the tenderloin is covered in the liquid.

Put the lid on, and pop the pork into the oven. Allow to braise for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Check after half an hour, the internal temperature should be around 160 degrees (with pork braised like this, the internal temp can go way above this, but will not dry out).

Once done, pull the pork out of the oven, and then out of the dutch oven, place on a plate, cover and allow to rest. While the meat is resting, place the dutch oven on a flame on the stove and reduce the cooking liquid. (and, if you’re like my mother and have not only frozen, leftover Thanksgiving stuffing, but also some leftover, frozen gravy, this may be added to the cooking liquid to thicken and enhance the flavor, but again, it’s not necessary).

When the gravy has reached your ideal consistency, pour into a gravy boat, slice the pork, and well, pig out! enjoy!

Garlicky Braised Kale
prep: at lest 1/2 hour ~ cooking time: about 30-45mins

  • 1 bunch Kale, washed but not dried, tough stems removed and sliced into 1/2 inch wide ribbons (if you can find it, use lacinato kale (aka cavolo nero or dinosaur kale, or black tuscan kale)
  • 1 large glug Olive Oil (exact amount depends on how big your pan is)
  • 1 large White Onion, sliced
  • 1/2 Sweet onion, diced
  • 8-10 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Dried Red Chile Pepper, sliced (in a pinch, use about 1-2tsps chili flakes, crushed to release the heat)
  • Water as needed
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

In a very large skillet (with a cover) begin to caramelize your onions over low to medium heat in a glug of olive oil. This process should take time (maybe 15-20 minutes). Do not hurry. the sweet, nutty, buttery texture is worth the patience required.

When the onions have taken on a golden brown color and appear to be melting into the pan, mix in the minced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes then add the kale on top. It is likely that all the kale will not fit into your pan on the first go, so just place the cover on top and allow the stuff on the bottom to cook down a bit, and keep adding the kale as room becomes available.

When all the kale is in the pan and has just begun to wilt, using tongs, toss the kale with the olive oil & onion mixture until every leaf is coated. If the residual water off the kale leaves does not seem enough to add a little steaming action to the cooking process, feel free to add a little water. Toss again, cover and turn your flame as low as it can go. Allow to cook covered, about 7-10 minutes. You should check in every few minutes, testing the leaves with thicker stems for tenderness (if the pan looks too dry, add more water or even some lemon juice).

The dish is done when the leaves have achieved a buttery, tender texture. Finish the dish with the chopped chiles, adjust the salt & pepper, turn into a large bowl and enjoy!!

this recipe is loosely based on Slow Cooked Cavolo Nero – thanks sara kate!

Mixed Sausage & Broccoli Rabe Pasta
prep: 45mins ~ cooking time: 45mins

  • 1/2 lb Sweet Italian Sausge
  • 1/2 lb Hot Italian Sausage
  • Loose ground sausage meat is preferable. If this cannot be found, patties broken apart or sausages removed from their casing will suffice.
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 1 package Crimini Mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and sliced thinly (these are often marketed as “Baby Bellas”, but ugh, i hate that name!)
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 large bunch Broccoli Rabe, washed (but not dried) and cut into bite size pieces
  • Olive Oil
  • Dry Vermouth
  • 1 Dried Spicy Red Chile, or an equivalent amount of chili flakes
  • 11 oz dried Whole Wheat Pasta (chose a fun shape, or, if you must, use linguine)

In the same large skillet you will eventually cook your sauce, brown off your sausage. When browned, remove with a slotted spoon, allow to drain and set the sausage aside in a bowl.

Start a large pot of salted water to boil (this dish takes a bit, so put it on low to medium and let it get happy slowly).

Place the same skillet in which you browned the meat over low to medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and begin to caramelize your onions. When they start to turn slightly translucent, add the mushrooms. Don’t be afraid when it looks like the mushrooms have soaked up all the oil, have a little faith! Not only will they release the oil, they will also eventually release much of the water inside them allowing them to get really soft and velvety smooth and adding richness and depth to the sauce.
When the onions have a nice color and the mushrooms a goregous sheen, add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with a reaaaally healthy glug (say, half a cup?) of the dry Vermouth (a nice white wine from Italy would work here too, just make sure it’s something you’d actually drink, b/c you don’t need much, so you’ll have to get rid of it somehow!)

When the Vermouth has boiled off a bit, add the sausage, mix, and then add the rabe, turn with tongs to coat in the onion-y oily mixture. If you have a lid for your skillet, you can cover the pan loosely to aid in the cooking of the rabe. If you don’t, keep an eye on it to make sure it hasn’t gone too dry, and if it has, add a little of the pasta water to aid the cooking.

Make sure your pasta water is at a hearty boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package’s directions. Keep an eye on everything, but have a drink too (you’ve earned it). A nice barbaresco would go lovely with this meal!

When the pasta is done, drain (but not too well) add to the skillet with the sauce, and toss to coat.
Turn out into a large bowl, drizzle with some excellent extra virgin olive oil and serve with plenty of your favorite hard cheese (personally, I think asiago would go best).



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