Umm, Umm good: Roasted pork lion, bread pudding

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 2010

The main course of my meal for eight on the 23rd consisted of a roasted pork loin stuffed with rosemary, bacon, and onions.

With the pork I served a savory leek bread pudding and some wilted greens from the garden.

Dessert was one of the trinity, floating islands: meringues, covered with a crème anglaise, or custard sauce.

This is one of my favorite desserts.

I prefer crème caramel of the trinity but my husband loves the isle flotante (floating islands).

I have used this recipe before in another column but I will repeat the custard part, since most people can do meringues.

You can really impress by doing caramel-thread decorations, but usually I am so tired at the end of the meal I just forget it!

It is just sugar caramelized and using the threads to decorate the meringues.

My friend Alice is more artsy than I am and does the caramelized threads well.

The main recipe you should have is the pork roast and savory leek bread pudding.

Most of you can cook some greens.

These greens can be anything from collards, mustard greens, or even use broccoli or green beans if you want something besides wilted greens.

These recipes are from my favorite Alabama chef, Frank Stitt, in his book, Southern Table.

Roast Pork Loin Stuffed with Rosemary, Bacon, and Onions

Serves 8

½ pound slab bacon, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 medium onions, cut into 1-inch dice

2 cups 1-inch cubes crustless day-old French bread

2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped

2 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and finely chopped

1 small bunch flat-leafed parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or chicken broth, if necessary

1 center-cut boneless pork loin roast (about 4 pounds)

Place the bacon and onions in a roasting pan and roast stirring once or twice, until the onions are slightly golden and the bacon in semi-crisp, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the onions and bacon, with all the drippings, to a bowl and set the pan aside. (Leave the oven on.)

Add the bread cubes, garlic, rosemary, and parsley to the bowl and season with salt and pepper.

You may need to moisten the mixture with a little olive oil or a splash of chicken broth. Let cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the pork: Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Insert a sharp boning knife or other long thin knife into the center of one end of the roast and turn it in a circular motion to create a hole, then insert a clean sharpening steel or the handle of a wooden spoon and push against the meat to create a larger space in the center of the pork loin.

Continue until you have created a 1½ -inch-diameter tunnel all the way through the pork.

Place the stuffing in a pastry bag without a tip and pipe the stuffing into the pork loin.

Tie the pork into an even roll with kitchen twine. Season with salt and pepper and place in the roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 325°F and continue roasting for another 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145° to 150°F on an instant-read thermometer.

Allow the pork to rest on a rack set over a platter for 5 to 10 minutes.

Slice the pork 1 inch thick and arrange a couple of slices on each plate.

Savory Leek Bread Pudding

Serves 6

1½ tablespoons melted butter

1 leek, trimmed, cleaned, and cut into ½ -inch pieces

1 onion, cut into ½ -inch dice

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 ½ cups ½-inch cubes day-old bread (crusts removed)

2 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 marjoram sprig, leaves removed and chopped

Tiny pinch of grated nutmeg

Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter six 6-ounce ramekins with ½ tablespoons of the butter.

In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat until the foam subsides. Add the leek and onion until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl, add the bread, and toss well.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat thoroughly. Whisk in the cream.

Add to the bread mixture, stirring to moisten.

Season with the marjoram, nutmeg, and salt and white pepper, mixing well.

Fill the ramekins with the bread mixture.

Arrange the ramekins in a shallow baking dish lined with a kitchen towel and pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Carefully place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake until the bread pudding tops are golden, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Crème Anglaise—Custard Sauce

For about 2 cups:

6 egg yolks

2/3 cups sugar

1 ½ cups hot milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

2 tablespoons Cognac or other liqueur, optional

Whisk the egg yolks in a saucepan, adding the sugar by fairly rapid spoonfuls—if it goes in all at once the yolks can turn grainy. Continue beating 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

By dribbles, stir in the hot milk—stirring not beating. Because you do not want the sauce to foam.

Set the saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring rather slowly with the wooden spoon, and reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan.

The sauce should come near to simmer.

You must be careful not to overheat it and scramble the yolks, but you must have the courage to heat it enough to thicken it.

The sauce is done when it coats the wooden spoon with a light creamy layer thick enough to hold when you draw your finger across it.

Beat in the vanilla, and the optional butter and rum. Serve warm, tepid, or cold.

After dinner we had a little of the Glenfiddich liqueur that we bought this past summer in Scotland—-we had been waiting for the special meal to serve this treat.

And have a Merry Christmas whatever or wherever you eat but do eat with family and friends.