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A Fall Feast!

People, it's fall. Finally! I think I've mentioned before that I love fall, but, just in case I didn't make it clear, I LOVE fall. The weather is awesome and the leaves turn pretty colors. Here in Nashville it rains a lot in fall, so we get these great cuddle-time thunderstorms. Starbucks releases their first seasonal drinks of the year in the fall too.

Funny story: Heather and I both love us some Pumpkin Spice Lattes (PSLs), and I swear I was told that the PSL came out on September 5th this year, so I went to Starbucks on that day and ordered one. They told me that it didn't actually come out until the next day *moment of fear!*, but that they could make me one anyway. Yes, please! Heather tried ordering one a day early too. Guess what she got told? NO! PSL winner 2011 right here, baby! Also, try that delectable drink with an extra shot of caramel. Heavenly! Anyhoo, back to the subject at hand...

Right, so another great thing about fall is that the best food comes out then. Um, hello, why do you think Thanksgiving is in November? Because it would have sucked at any other time of year. :-) Just kidding! But the harvest season is just chock full of great, amazing flavors. I've kind of gone into cooking overdrive lately. So much so Mike had to remind me that we do actually have a food budget that needs to be considered...oops. Oh well, there are worse things to splurge on. Anyway, I made a fall feast one day recently that I just couldn't wait to share with you all. Get ready for some recipe overload!

Pork Roast with Hard Cider Gravy

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon cold
2 1/2 pound pork loin roast, trimmed and tied
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced
1 bottle, (12 ounces) hard cider, plus more as necessary

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper, to taste, and sear on all sides in the hot pan until golden brown; set aside. Add the onions and apples and season again with salt and pepper. Cook until they begin to caramelize, then pour in the hard cider and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and nestle the browned pork roast back into the pan. Cover with a lid and put in the oven to braise until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the pork roast from the pot and transfer to a carving board; tent with foil to keep warm. Transfer the contents of the pot to a food processor or blender and puree, then return the puree to the pan. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, then reduce the heat to low and add more cider if gravy is too thick. Add the remaining tablespoon of cold butter, whisking constantly as it melts. Remove from heat when the gravy is smooth and shiny and the butter is completely melted.

Slice pork loin roast and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with sauce and enjoy!

Parsnip-Potato Mash

2 1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 lb parsnips (ab 8 small), peeled and chopped
Kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped chives, for garnish, optional

Put the potatoes and parsnips in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, cover with cold water and salt it generously. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Put the butter and half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot.

Drain the potatoes and parsnips well and return them to the hot pan. Stir the vegetables in the pan to dry them out a bit. Add the hot butter mixture and season with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped chives.

I love when my kitchen looks like this. It's just a tableau of good things to come. You may also recognize some of my baking things out in this picture. I made this the same night as I made my chewy chocolate chip cookies, so we even had dessert after our feast!

I wasn't really planning on making this dish in particular when I went shopping. I just knew I wanted root vegetables, so I had gotten a variety of potatoes, parsnips, and carrots. As you can see, I ended up augmenting my parsnips with their more colorful cousins, which ended up working out really well.

Here's my seared up pork. By the way, I didn't have any pork roast, but I did have these great inch-thick pork chops, so I use those babies instead. Such a good choice! And the smell of those onions caramelizing was just heavenly!

Back in the pool--I mean pot. I wish I could convey the sense of joyous expectation I was feeling at this moment. Everything was beginning to come together and smell amazing. I think it must be similar to what someone who plays sports must feel when they're having a really good game...or something like that. It's a really good feeling! Trust me.

Let us go back and check on our mash before and after draining. If it looks like that's a lot of food, it is. Hence the bonus recipe at the bottom!

Now it's time for some sauce! Holy cow, let me tell you that this sauce is worth it! It is sweet and flavorful and just fan-dang-tabulous. Now, I know the recipe calls for the sauce to be blended smooth, but I was kinda digging the rustic, chunky look, so I didn't do that.

Aw, snap! That is some handsome looking food! And, yes, it tastes as good as it looks.

You cannot go wrong with these recipes, I guarantee. The mash has so much extra zip from the parsnips, and the pork! OMG, the pork! Sweet and savory and just the perfect thing for a cool, autumn night. This is comfort food at its best. Plus, it's so easy to do! Treat yourself and your family to this great fall feast and see what I mean. You will not regret it.

Ham and Cheese Croquettes

1 cup leftover potatoes from Parsnip-Potato Mash recipe or plain mashed potatoes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese, about 1-ounce
1/2 cup very finely diced cooked ham or country ham, about 2 ounces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying

In a bowl, mix the potatoes, 1/4 cup flour, cheese, and ham with a large rubber spatula until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and divide the mixture into 8 equal portions. Rub your hands with a small amount of flour and form the portions into small flat disks about 1/2-inch thick. Use just enough flour to keep the potatoes from sticking to your hands, but do not coat them completely.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Shallow-fry the croquettes, turning once, until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Let the croquettes cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Cook's Note: This recipe doubles easily if you have enough leftover potatoes.

Creamy, decadent, and rich, these little disks of goodness are amazing! And they were the perfect accompaniment to next week's recipe! Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. So you're going to come to my house and make me dinner right? :)