A Fragrant, Flavorful Christmas
The Christmas season often is associated with mouthwatering fragrances such as cinnamon, apples and cloves. But possibly the scent that rises above the rest is that of gingerbread. These recipes from CloverFields Farm & Kitchen’s Janine Washle feature the warm scent and tantalizing flavor of gingerbread, and incorporate products made in Kentucky or grown on local farms. Fragrant gingerbread meets up with local ingredients to create new holiday table traditions.
1 1/2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon bourbon smoked paprika
4 pounds pork loin, trimmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peeled, diced tart apple
1 1/2 cups day-old gingerbread crumbs*
¼ to 1/3 cup apple cider or water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup gingerbread crumbs*
2/3 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the dry rub first by grinding pickling spice in a spice grinder until it becomes a powder. Add sugar, salt and paprika to grinder. Pulse a few times to mix.
2. Place pork loin on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle dry rub over all the surfaces and rub in. Place in refrigerator until needed.
3. Prepare stuffing by heating oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery, onions and salt to pan. Sauté until carrots and celery are softened and onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add diced apple. Continue to sauté until apple is softened, about 4 minutes. Add gingerbread crumbs and combine with vegetables. Add apple cider little by little to moisten the mixture so it holds together when squeezed. Do not add too much liquid or it will become soupy.
4. Remove pork loin from refrigerator and cut halfway down the center lengthwise with a sharp knife to butterfly. Using palms of hands, press on cut area. Stop cutting once loin easily lays open like a book. Cover butterflied surface with stuffing mixture, leveling it. Use butcher’s twine to reshape and tie up loin. This will take about five pieces of twine.
5. Place pork loin in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Add wine and water. Bake in uncovered for 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Cover with foil halfway through roasting to prevent over-browning of stuffing. Remove from oven. Transfer pork loin to a serving platter. Loosely tent with foil and allow to rest while preparing gravy.
6. To prepare gravy, pour pan drippings into a large sauté pan. Add apple cider vinegar and sugar to pan. Sauté until sugar is dissolved and mixture is simmering. Add gingerbread crumbs and stir until crumbs have just about dissolved into mixture. Stir in cream or half-and-half. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
7. If a smoother gravy is desired, press mixture through a fine mesh sieve or chinois. Reheat. If too thick, add a little more half-and-half until desired consistency is reached. If too thin, simply add more gingerbread crumbs.
8. To serve: Remove butcher’s twine from pork loin. Pour gravy around loin. Serve remaining gravy on the side to pour over slices as desired.
* This is a good way to use up leftover bourbon gingerbread. Make crumbs by pulsing three-four squares of gingerbread in a food processor until the texture looks like fine breadcrumbs.