Thursday, October 21, 2010

In Honor of June Cleaver

My house growing up was full of people and activity, that is, if we were home. Both my parents worked, multiple jobs and they usually took us with them if we weren’t in school. Some of my favorite memories are of having chicken broth out of a vending machine at the YMCA or eating Apple Jacks in the back of my Dad’s Dodge Colt while he delivered newspapers early one morning.
That is not to say that we did not have family dinners. We just had ours a little differently. At a fairly young age, my mom had my sisters and I cooking at least once a week. This included planning the menu, adding it to the grocery list and then preparing and serving it. My go-to meal was frozen raviolis (it still is, I usually have a bag for when I just cannot cook anything that requires thinking). I do remember gathering around a table for meals and trying to get my sister to laugh so hard she shot milk out of her nose. I was on a role for a while until my mom threatened us with some unnamed horrible punishment if Jen’s milk went anywhere but down her throat.
Or a few years later setting the table complete with glasses of milk (I had given up trying to neti-pot my sister with milk by this time) then coming back to find our little dog standing on the table lapping the milk out of everyone’s glasses. We had and still have a lot of good times around the dinner table. And I understand how hard it must have been to ensure we always had some time set aside for family dinners.
Today, I am blessed with a job that lets me get out of work fairly early by normal standards. And when Joe is in season, I have even more time to get dinner on the table. I’m no June Cleaver (my apron has a swear word on it heehee) but I like to have dinner ready for when Joe comes home. Not every day, and I have previously mentioned how after a bad day I may in fact be on the couch in the dark 2 martinis in by the time Joe comes home (hence the frozen raviolis).
Not everyone has this much time to cook dinner, and I always like to look for recipes that can be done quickly and taste good. While visiting my ex-college roommate and her husband this past weekend, I got to thinking about how difficult it can be to prepare something healthy and varying week to week. So Neerali, this one is for you.

Pork Agrodolce
As adapted from Gourmet April 2008 and Cooking Light
This is a quick and dirty way to make agrodocle –but I really like it. Be warned however, it is very strong on the vinegar flavor, so if you don’t like that, this recipe is not for you. I typically make this sauce for pan seared salmon, but the store was completely out of wild salmon. If you want to use salmon follow the * for directions below. This pork version takes a little longer but the hands-on time is about the same.

For the Pork
1 pork tenderloin
Olive Oil
Fresh (or dried sage) optional
Dried mustard (or fresh) optional

1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges (if it is a gigantic onion cut it into 16 wedges)
2 Tb. Olive oil
2/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 Tb butter

Preheat the oven to 400°. Rub the pork with olive oil and spices. Place pork on a foiled baking sheet or roasting pan and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until cooked all the way through. (if you have a meat thermometer, the pork should register about 140° or longer if you want it less pink)

Once the pork has finished cooking, turn off the oven and let it rest. While the pork is resting, cook the agrodolce. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, and add red onion, some of your wedges will fall apart, but don’t worry. Cook onion for about 6-8 minutes until their color has lessened and they start to get a little brown. Then add sugar, salt and vinegar. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the vinegar is thick and syrupy. Add the butter to the sauce and stir until it is blended into the sauce. Spoon agrodolce onto plate and serve with sliced pork over top. This can be served with your favorite vegetable (roast broccoli) and potatoes or egg noodles (I have a weakness for egg noodles).

*For Salmon, take wild salmon and slice filets into single serve portions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pan, and cook salmon skin side UP for 8-12 minutes, until a nice golden crust forms on the salmon. Flip and cook for another few minutes. This version is much more quick then the pork, but both are fairly easy.

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