Christmas Divided by Seahorses Equals Flamingoes

November 8, 2006

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These are the kind of high-brow thoughts this dish inspire!

Hmmm….perhaps I did put a *bit* too much wine in the sauce! *smile*

Last night I made the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Wine-Braised Pork Loin from Bon Appetit. The smell of this gets me every time! Once I take it out of the oven and lift the lid–it is as if they took the smell of the classic street-fair sausage-and-peppers and elevated it to indoor, on-a-plate, actually-use-silverware status. It literally cries out (or is that me moaning…?) for bread to be dipped in and sampled. Immediately.

I made only a few changes (basically increasing the garlic and liquid components), these are reflected below:

Wine Braised Pork Loin

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 bay leaf, crumbled
3 garlic cloves, minced
Very generous pinch of ground allspice
1 3-to-4-pound boned center-cut pork loin roast, rolled, tied

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 red bell peppers, cut lengthwise into strips, halved crosswise
2 cup dry white wine
2 cup canned crushed tomatoes with added puree
2 cup canned beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried marjoram, crumbled

Combine first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Pat pork dry; rub with salt mixture. Cover and chill 6 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wipe pork dry. (Be sure to wipe off all those bits of bay leaves, otherwise you’ll find yourself spitting them out at the table!)

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy Dutch oven or casserole over high heat. Add pork; brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to plate. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to Dutch oven.

Add onions and sauté until very tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and peppers and sauté until peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, broth, bay leaves and marjoram. Add pork, fat side up, and drippings on plate. Bring to boil. Cover; bake until tender, about 1 hour. (Though I tend to cook it even longer, more like an hour and a half, as I like it to be very tender.)

Transfer pork to platter and let stand 15 minutes. If the sauce is too loose for your liking, boil until reduced to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Slice roast into 1/2-inch thick slices, and serve with sauce.

Serves 8.

If preparing in advance, I keep the roast whole, surround it with the sauce, cover and chill.

When ready to reheat and eat, I slice the roast and layer it with the sauce into a casserole dish. The place the covered dish in 350°F. oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.

Oh. Ok. For those of you who are wondering just what-in-the-hell that title was about……here’s a brief synopsis: During dinner talk turned to my penchant for ‘theme decorations”. I expounded on the fact that I like my parties to have a theme. Why? Well, what is a party: a gathering of people, food, drink, and music. Every party has these same elements, so to my way of thinking, the way to make each one special is to have a theme and have each of those components reflect that theme. Keeps things interesting.

Just as I finish explaining all this to TG (who has never hosted a party in his life!), Carolyn looks slyly over at me, eyes lowered over the edge of her wine-glass, turns to TG and says: “Oh yes! The quest for ‘theme’ knows no boundaries—be it bringing in styrofoam coolers all the way from Tennessee (don’t ask!), or making me spend a whole day creating Chinese New Year Fortune Wheels (again, don’t ask!)….she stops at nothing! Go ahead–tell him about the biggest “price” we had to pay due to your theme decorations.”

Do you remember those sticky spiders that you throw up against a wall and they “climb down”? (Ok granted, my memories of these are mostly from doing that in the pizza parlor after my 7th grade dance, so if any of you don’t remember them these days, I certainly understand! *smile* I couldn’t find the spider crawlers to link to, but these may help jog your memory….)

A couple of years ago Carolyn and I threw a Hawaiian themed cocktail party, and I ordered about a 100 sticky seahorses (similar to these sticky fish), and stuck them all over the walls of our living room. (And no, considering we had a parrot hanging in the corner of our bathroom for the event, this was not an over-the-top decision! *smile*) They looked fantastic on the walls! So colorful and festive–they really transformed the living room to the extent that you expected to look out our windows and see the deep blue sea…rather than the thoroughfare that is Broadway. And they stuck really, really well. Not-a-one came down during the course of the party. In fact, they were all still perfectly stuck the next morning when we set about de-island-ing the place.

I know you think you know where this is going: that they stuck too well and that we had to chisel them off the walls–along with a good amount of the paint and plaster as well. I can see how you’d think that. But you’re wrong. They had stuck really well, but as soon as you gave their tail a tug, they peeled off like a dream. What they left behind, however, was a perfect, fully colored imprint of their bodies. Woo-hoo! Which were slightly greasy and sticky. Double woo-hoo! Once they were all off the walls, it was like being surrounded by the subdued ghosts of seahorses past.

So even though it still looked kind of cool–we had to repaint. They didn’t quite match our usual decor—and it is NYC, so that sticky residue would soon be black from the soot in the air. Might as well repaint right away. So we cleaned the sticky off as best we could, touched up over the seahorse-shadows and repainted. But the bodies came through! So we re-touched and repainted again….yup, still could see them. And again. And again. I swear by the time we were done, we had lost a square inch to the dimension of the room. And Carolyn is *never* going to let me forget it. (As well she shouldn’t, I begrudgingly admit…*smile*)

Oh, right, I still haven’t explained the title. (Even after that “brief” synopsis!) TG is not a native English speaker, so I was afraid he might not know the word “seahorse”. So I said I would draw one for him later, and then I had a flash of inspiration, “Wait, no need! You can just go look at our shower curtain, there are seahorses on that.” Feeling rather pleased with myself that I had remembered that and that we had a ‘seahorse’ on hand to show him.

Carolyn laughs and says “What are you talking about? Those are flamingoes!”

Oh yeah, right, they are! Big pink, foot-tall flamingoes. Oops. We all start laughing…..

“How did you come up with seahorses?!” she asked.

“I don’t know…I was thinking about showing him a seahorse, and then I thought about Christmas and how it’s time to swap out the shower curtain from the summer to the winter one…”

“So, what— Christmas divided by seahorses equals flamingoes???!!!”



Filed Under: Mains, Recipe, Savory

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