Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Apple Sweet Potato Bake

In my last posting, I made this yummy Stuffed Pork Roast.  I was surprised at how well it turned out!  I needed a side dish to go with it, so I pulled out this recipe.  When we were in Massachusetts over Thanksgiving, my mother in law had this Kraft magazine that had a bunch of recipes.  Many of them were FAR from paleo, but this one seemed promising.  By the time we had gotten back to Virginia, my sister in law, Tracee, had texted me saying that it was really good!  So here it is... with a few minor twists, of course!

Apple- Bacon Sweet Potato Bake

* 1 large onion, chopped
* 6 slices bacon, chopped
* 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
* 2 apples (I used Braeburn), peeled and chopped
* 1/2 cup apple cider (no sugar or anything added- just apples)
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans

This recipe was easy peasy.  First, preheat the oven to 350.  Then throw the chopped bacon into a pan on medium high heat and let it get nice and crispy.  Once it's crispy, turn the heat down to medium low and remove the bacon to a separate plate.  Keep the bacon fat in there because that's what you'll cook the onions in.  Make sure you let the fat cool down a bit because you don't want to fry the onions, just make them soft. So you throw the onions in there and cook until soft.  Then add the bacon back to the pan for another minute or two.

While all the bacon and onions were cooking, I took the time to chop up the apples and the sweet potatoes.  Then, in a baking dish, just throw the cubed sweet potatoes and the apples.  Mix them up so they are all combined nicely. 

Next, you'll add in the apple cider and cinnamon.  Then, you'll mix everything up so it's evenly distributed.  You could use a spoon to make sure it's evenly distributed, but I think using your hands is easier and faster... and why dirty a spoon when you don't need to, right?


Next, pour the bacon and onion mixture over the sweet potato and apple mixture.  Then, cover the dish with some aluminum foil and pop it in the oven.

It will bake for 40 minutes, then you pull it out and remove the aluminum foil.  Top it with the chopped pecan pieces, and then put it back in the oven, without the aluminum foil top.  You'll just bake it for another 10 minutes or so.  I baked mine a bit longer because I like it to the point that it is nicely browned.

So there you have it! Super simple and really really tasty.  It'd probably taste good as a side to anything, but I think it'd be best with a lighter meat like pork or chicken.  Hopefully you'll like it as much as I do!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paleo Stuffed Pork Loin - Harvest Style

Normally, I'm not a fan of pork.  I feel like it tends to get really dry or not flavorful.  Recently, though, I've been making more pork recipes.  There are a lot of recipes that look really good, but use bread as a stuffing... corn bread, brioche bread, even wheat bread.... blah to bread!  I needed to find something else to add some body to the stuffing.  This is one concoction that I just kinda threw together.  I had made pork loin a few weeks ago stuffed with raisins and apples and it was surprisingly good.  This week, I decided to try it again, but this time, with different "stuffing" things.  I had some dried apricots and figured that I could find a few things to complement the flavor... and I did!

Paleo Harvest Stuffed Pork Loin

* 3 lb boneless pork loin roast
* 1/2 cup of dried apricots (no sugar added)
* 1/4 cup of natural apple cider (apples should be the only ingredient!)
* 1/4 cup of chopped pecans
* 3 cloves of garlic
* 1/2 tbs rosemary
* 1 tsp bacon fat/butter/etc

First, I tried to cut the pork so that it would lay flat.  I'd done it before where you go in a circle and get 1 nice long, flat piece of pork.  This time,  I didn't have the patience and just cut the whole thing down the middle to butterfly it.  I also seasoned the whole thing with some salt and pepper.

 I chopped the garlic and added it to a saute pan with some of the bacon grease and the rosemary.  I let it cook for a little bit to get a bit of the sharpness out of the flavors.  I wanted them to mellow out and just taste really good together.  I also used dried rosemary, so I didn't want the little leaves to be all spiky and stuff.

While the garlic and rosemary were cooking, I chopped up the apricots into nice little bite sized pieces.  I hate it when you bit into something and this HUGE chunk comes out.  So, anyway, I cut them up and threw them into the pan to warm through.

After that, I added in the apple cider.  I'm not sure why I added it in there.  I just had some in the fridge and thought, what the heck, why not?!  So anyway, it did help to soften up the apricots and the pecans.  It also helped all of the flavors to really blend together.   I cooked it all, stirring continuously, until most of the apple cider had evaporated or had soaked into the other ingredients.  I then took it off the stove and let it cool until it was a good temperature for me to handle it.

I then placed all of the stuffing  in the middle of the pork loin.  I wanted to make sure it was spread evenly so that there was a lot of flavor in every bite.  No one wants to be stuck with that one end piece that doesn't have anything fun in it, right?!

Then, I folded the pork back up into its original round shape and I tied it up with some kitchen twine (which I have since misplaced and have gone CRAZY tearing up the kitchen looking for it!!!).  There are videos on youtube on how to tie up a roast.  Really, any way you can get it to stay together is good!  You really just don't want to throw it in the oven and have it open up so the stuffing can spill everywhere.  The stuffing adds so much flavor and makes it tender. 
 I threw it into the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes.  You want to keep an eye on it because the last thing you want is to burn it!  They've recently said that you can eat pork medium now (you don't have to cook it well done throughout like you used to).  So really, just cook it to your desired amount of doneness.  Just make sure that you let the roast rest for about 10 minutes when it comes out of the oven.  You want to give it time for the juices to redistribute.  The last thing you want is to cut it immediately and have all of the yummy flavor to slip out... that will cause you to lose flavor and also make it more dry.

Here is the finished result! It was delicious!   I really liked it! I think the rosemary added a nice little kick to the sweetness of the apricots.  The pecans also added some good flavor!  This is a great dish which I will definitely be making again!

It's pictured here, served with a sweet potato and apple bake.  The recipe will be coming soon because it paired up sooooo well with the dish.  Of course, you can add any veggies that you like.  I tend to think of harvest flavors and orange veggies - squash, carrots, sweet potatoes.   Enjoy!