Thanksgiving is for Turkey, Christmas is for Fancy
A guest post by Libbie Summers – Culinary Producer, Food & Prop Stylist, Recipe Development, Writer
Even though my hog farming grandparents had a ham on the Thanksgiving table, the star of the show was always a turkey. The Thanksgiving meal was served in a casual way just as I thought the pilgrims may have shared a meal with the native Indians. I could see myself asking,“Chief, could you please pass me the sweet potato fluff.” And, as a kid, I always wondered if the Pilgrims hated Green Top Jello® Salad as much as I did. But Christmas, that’s a different story. My grandmother, Lula Mae, would dust off the poinsettia printed table cloths and the family silver (there were two pieces). She would choose a different entree each year. Entrees that are sought after in today’s restaurant world, but what landed on Lula Mae’s fancy Christmas table were delicacies she acquired with a .22 rifle shot from the screen door. Squirrel, rabbit, and coon. I remember it always tasting delicious and when placed on a silver platter (one of the two pieces) it somehow became “fancy”. I was young when I realized Christmas is for fancy, and even though my palette may have matured, Christmas dinner will always mean “fancy” to me.
Goat Stuffed Pig
(pear pan gravy) serves 4 to 6
- 1 (2 pounds) pork tenderloin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 ripe pears, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup chopped dried pears
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- 2 firm pears, thickly sliced (skin on)
- 1 1/2 cups pork stock, divided (can substitute chicken stock)
- 1/4 cup pear brandy (can substitute apple brandy)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 400º F.
To butterfly tenderloin, use a sharp knife and make a cut (lengthwise) down the center of the pork tenderloin to within 1/2 inch of the bottom. Open the cut meat and lay flat between two pieces of plastic wrap.
Pound the meat until it is of even thickness. Remove top sheet of plastic wrap. Lightly salt and pepper uncovered the side of tenderloin.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together diced ripe pears, dried pears, garlic, goat cheese, parsley, and pecans. Spread mixture over the top of the butterflied roast to within 1″ of the edges. Roll up the long side, removing plastic wrap. Tie with butcher’s twine every 2 inches to secure. Salt and pepper lightly.
Place tenderloin in a shallow roasting pan along with sliced pears and 1/2 cup pork stock. Roast until internal temperature reaches 155º F (approximately 12 to 18 minutes).
Remove from oven and allow tenderloin to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before removing butcher’s twine and slicing into thick slices. Serve warm with Pear Pan Gravy.
For Pear Pan Gravy: makes 2 cups
With a slotted spoon, transfer the pears in the roasting pan to a bowl and keep warm. Pour off any fat from the roasting pan, leaving the meat juices on the bottom. Put a pan over medium-high heat, add apple brandy and deglaze pan allowing the alcohol to burn off and being sure to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan (approximately 1 minute). Transfer mixture to a medium saucepan. Whisk in remaining stock, apple cider, and thyme. Increase heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. Stir in cream and simmer for another 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in butter and pears. Serve warm, poured over Goat Stuffed Pig.
About Libbie’s New Book:
If you would like more mouth watering pork recipes like this one, Libbie has written an entire book which includes chops, loin, shoulder, bacon and all that good stuff. You can buy her lovely book, The Whole Hog Cookbook, which is filled with inspirational photography, a photo list of the cuts of pork available and stories from Libbie herself who grew up on a hog farm in Missouri-even wrestling pigs as a kid at the state fair-and grew to become the culinary producer for Paula Deen, who instilled in her a Southerner’s affection for the pig. Most of her recipes have a down-home accent, but many reflect international influences too: Sweet Tea Brined Pork Shoulder, Pork Chops and Applesauce, Pork Belly Gyros, Pork Pies, and Jerk Roasted Tenderloin. Chapters are divided according to primal cuts, such as the shoulder, loin, bacon, and ribs. How-to sections show you how to make your own fresh sausage, tie up a crown roast, and cure bacon. In her writing, Summers takes up the cause of the much-maligned pig and reminds us that the best way to honor an animal is to appreciate every part, wasting nothing.