On to the main course! I decided to make a big expensive cut of meat stuffed with a delicious stuffing as my showstopper. When I read the recipe for Spinach, mushroom, and ground meat stuffing (p. 538), it reminded me of my grandmother's ravioli recipe and sounded amazing (My Nonni makes the best ravioli in the world).
I cooked spinach, onions, and a lot of onions in butter--a perfect start to any recipe:
I mixed ground pork, fine bread crumbs, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and two large eggs in a bowl with the mushroom mixture. Note: Mix the eggs in before adding the spinach mixture (which is hot), otherwise you have to work really fast because the egg starts to cook.
I could barely stir the mixture--it was extremely stiff. Mom got to work:
The hole in the crown roast was really small, so we baked most of the stuffing in a bowl.
The stuffing was amazing! It was so delicious. It wasn't a bread-heavy typical stuffing but it had an amazing flavor and was really flavorful. I liked the combination of the pork, mushrooms, and spinach--this won't replace the cornbread stuffing at Thanksgiving, but I really enjoyed it.
The main part of the whole meal was the beautiful crown roast that we bought at a local butcher shop. (As an aside, their staff could use some more training--the man who sold it to us told us that he knew it was going to be good because it was pale. That is totally wrong information. Thankfully, he was incorrect and it was acceptable quality).
I've been very intimidated by recipes such as Crown roast of pork (p. 498) for two reasons. First, it's an expensive piece of meat. Second, it makes a HUGE amount of food and we are only a two-person household. So a special family weekend is the perfect time to roll a recipe like this one out.
I rubbed the pork with a mixture of olive oil, thyme, allspice, salt, and pepper, which looked distinctly like sludge.
I roasted it for fifteen minutes at a high heat, then reduced the heat to very low for about an hour. When it was an hour along, we stuffed it.
TJOC says to cook the pork roast until it's 155 degrees but my father, an expert in the field, recommended I remove it at 145 degrees, which is what I did. As it rested, it cooked until about 160 degrees, which is perfectly done for pork. Please, please, please don't ruin a piece of meat like this by cooking it until it's shoe leather.
Dad in action, with his granddog hopefully looking on:
The pork was amazing! It was tender and flavorful and the rub was perfection. The rub is more like a combination for a baked good but it was really good and not too strong. The roast easily fed nine, with leftovers. Most importantly, it was striking and perfect for a holiday.
For some reason, I thought that it would be perfect to have a nice sauce to pour over the pork. I'm not entirely sure why I wanted to add one more dish to the litany. I thought Spicy apricot sauce (p. 217) would taste delicious with pork. I had a vision of a beautiful bright orange sauce covering the pork and stuffing.
Canned apricots were surprisingly difficult to find at our grocery store! There was only one brand and I'm not totally confident that it was the full amount that TJOC required.
I combined a sweet onion, jalapeno peppers, and garlic in vegetable oil and cooked it until tender:
I then added the apricots, water, brown sugar, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and soy sauce and cooked it until the sauce had thickened:
I pureed it, added salt and red pepper, and it was finished!
Where is that beautiful orange color I was hoping for? The picture is actually a more attractive picture than the sauce actually was--it was a very strange yellow/orange. It didn't have a very strong apricot flavor but it was fruity and spicy. It was a popular dish and did spice up the meal (Ha! Spice up!). I never make a sauce to go along with meat but I think it's a great idea in general.