Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Harvest Day

Orchard dust still on them!
Every year since I was very little we would go to the same pumpkin patch and get all of our pumpkins for Halloween, our apples and pears for numerous treats yet to be made, and as much apple cider as we could stand, not to mention an incredible belly ache from all the caramel apples.  This particular pumpkin patch is located outside Portland Oregon in a little town called Hood River.  Now if you haven't heard of Hood River Oregon, it is a picturesque town snuggled right in between the Columbia River and Mount Hood, and well is known for producing some of the best fruit here in the states.  In particular, they are known for their pears, but the apples are fantastic too, in addition to wonderful peaches and cherries (I won't even go into the wine, it's amazing!).  The bulk of the fruit grown in this region is grown by a group of local farms congregated in a small area affectionately called the Fruit Loop by locals and for reasons I don't understand, provides all the necessary ingredients to grow everything from raspberries to walnuts.  This area is nessled between Hood River and Mount Hood, and continues to this day to be a ever increasing cornicopia of locally grown produce....a modern day garden of eden, and for these reasons among others I have to say this is one of the most beautiful places on earth, although I am biased since this is where I grew up.  But enough of this, on with the story......

Marina di Chioggia.........perfect for gnocchi!
So for the sake of tradition, when I had my daughter it was already pre determined that I would take her to this very same place (oh, if I didn't mention the name it is Rasmunssen Farms) to get her pumpkins, much to the chagrin of my husband, who thinks an hour drive to get pumpkins is kind of ridiculous, especially since there are several amazing farms much closer to us.  But for me this place is just one of those memory invoking places....a place to relive childhood.  We all have those, and that is something to be treasured and shared with the ones we love most in life.  So we set out, on a mission to find the perfect pumpkin, coffee in hand, driving through the Columbia Gorge on an October day that reminded me of why this is my favorite month of the year.  A fair bit later we reach the farm, and once again everyone else that day decided "lets get pumpkins today, because we all know who's gonna be there." 

Once we navigated through the sea of IDIOTS (sorry, an occasional emotional outburst may occur) we parked our car and headed for the pumpkin patch.  I have to say, luckily, that it didn't take us long to find our future Halloween carving candidates, but I seem to always forget the gloves, so our hands were full of little pumpkin thorns.  Oh, and if you plan on some pumpkin patch time of your own, don't leave your wagon unattended, some teenage punk WILL steal it and you will have to spend eternity trying to find another f&$#@!* me.......I know.  After we had picked out our pumpkins we headed off to collect all the apples and pears we could carry.  I entered the barn where the apples and pears were all displayed in large wooden orchard bins, when I noticed it, the line that stretched from here to China.  Feeling rather defeated I figured I would load up and hopefully by the time I had selected all my fruit the line would have shrunk.......ya, not so much.......I still haven't regained full feeling in my right arm....stupid apples..stupid people.   Now that I am done pouting, we packed up all of our treasures and headed off in search of apple cider.  We stopped at  Draper Girls Country Farm, a favorite of mine, which has amazing apple cider, fresh fruit all year, and locally raised lamb. 
Cider in hand, toddler asleep in the back, we had accomplished our mission, and driving away from this place I was reminded how wonderful this corner of the world is, and how lucky I am to be in it.

Oh, I need to do a recipe for this post don't I!  So taking from the bounty of our harvest day this is what I came up with, and of course it was delicious!

Stuffed Pork Loin with Apple Cider Sauce

4 cups day old cubed cornbread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4lb sausage
1 yellow onion diced
1 apple peeled and diced
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
(you can use Sage as well, I'm just not a big fan)
1/4 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

4lb boneless pork loin roast butterflied
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
8-10 Cippolini Onions peeled
2 fresh sprigs of rosemary
1/2 cup apple cider
Kitchen twine

2 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot minced
1 apple peeled and diced
3 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add the sausage and cook until browned and crumbly, remove from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan melt the butter and then add the onions and apple and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the cranberries, rosemary, and the reserved sausage and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl combine the onion mixture with the cornbread, tossing gently to prevent breaking up the cornbread too much.  Add the cider and the salt and pepper and toss again, set the stuffing aside while you prepare the pork.  To prepare the pork use half the salt and pepper and sprinkle in on one side of the pork.  Spoon the stuffing along the middle of the pork then roll up like a jelly roll.  Don't over stuff the pork, if you have some left over stuffing that's ok, just bake it up and use it as a side dish if people want a little extra stuffing.  Once the pork is rolled up tie the pork with the kitchen twine to ensure it doesn't fall apart while cooking.  Sprinkle the outside of the pork with the remaining salt and pepper and the fresh rosemary.  Place roast in a small roasting pan along with the onions and the fresh rosemary sprigs.  Add the cider and roast the pork for about 2 hours, basting it about every 1/2 hour.  Make sure the pork has reached an internal temperature of about 175 degrees.  When the pork is done remove it from the roasting pan, cover, and allow to rest while you prepare the sauce.  Remove the onions from the roasting pan and set those aside, and discard the rosemary sprigs.  For the sauce, using the roasting pan containing all the juices from the pork, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and diced apple and cook until the shallots are translucent, again about 5 minutes.  Add the cider and maple syrup and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.  Remove the kitchen twine from pork loin and slice.  Place the sliced pork on a serving platter along with the reserved Cippolini onions.  Pour the apple cider sauce over the pork and serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment