Pork Belly and Who Are You Calling a Witch?

Sometimes distractions can be really fun.  Last Friday I hosted a lunch to meet distant cousins that I connected to through the DNA on Ancestry.  Which meant I needed to get our shared branch in order.  For me, that means going straight down the rabbit hole to find out more and more.  I completely lose track of time.  However, I’m really glad I did as I found a connection to the Salem Witch Trials.

A horrible time in history of hysteria which largely started because of a fungus on the rye grains.  I got my ancestry back to Esther Elwell neè Dutch and the trials suddenly popped up.  I found a deposition accusing her and two other women of pressing, choking, and squeezing a Mary Fitch who died.  A seventeen year old girl was witness to this.  I’m thinking holy moly.  Until I did more digging.  The witness had visions, Mary Fitch just had an illness.  The stroke of luck for my ancestor was that the court was dissolved a few weeks before her arrest because more and more “reputable” people were getting accused so the court finally thought, hey maybe we shouldn’t be using visions as evidence.  Esther wasn’t the only one I found, a Rachel Vinson neè Varney was also accused.  Scary times.  If they had been charged, it would have been a death sentence.

It made for a very interesting lunch!

Recently I’ve seen a few blogs using pork belly and I thought it was high time I took the pork belly out of the freezer and create something.  I’ve just added a WP Recipe Maker plugin to, hopefully, allow for a printable recipe below.  Please let me know what you think and if you have any issues.  I’m starting with the free version so I can’t include unit conversion but I should be adding that down the road.

Pork Belly How-To

Preheat the oven on convection/fan to 425F/220C.

It looks like a lot of mustard but it will not overpower the flavour.

In a roasting dish add the pork belly that has been scored, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, and rubbed down with brown mustard.  Roast for up to 30 minutes.  Keep an eye on this!  You want the skin crispy but not burnt.  Then turn the oven off of convection/fan and set the temperature to 300F/150C.  Bake for another hour or so.

Normally at the co-op the red onions are massive but suddenly they fit neatly in the palm of my hand and I have small hands.  In a skillet, take a couple of tablespoons of the drippings from the roasting pan, heat up the skillet.  Finely chop a small onion and two cloves of garlic.  Sauté on medium heat.  As the onions become more translucent chop up a mushroom or two.  Add them to the skillet and stir well.

When the mushrooms start to brown add 1/2 cup/4oz of vegetable bouillon along with 2 tablespoons of brandy.  Add a dollop of brown mustard.

Yes, more mustard! But it works. 🙂

Stir well and let simmer.  In the meantime cook up 1/2 cup of quinoa.

To serve, place a large handful of lettuce greens on the plate, add a few spoonfuls of quinoa then top with the pork belly and sauce.  It’s the kind of dish that straddles the hot and cool of the beginning of autumn.  Getting tired of salads but not quite ready for stick to your ribs food.

 

Pork Belly with a Mustard Garlic Sauce

A flavourful recipe by Our Growing Paynes that highlights the pork belly with a mustard garlic sauce.  

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb pork belly 227 grams
  • 1/3 cup brown mustard 3 oz
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 white button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup vegetable bouillon 4oz
  • 2 tbsp brandy 1oz
  • 2 pinches sea salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • lettuce
  • 3 tbsp pork belly drippings 1.5oz

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven on convection/fan to 425F/220C.

    Score the pork belly with a diamond pattern through the fat but not the meat.  Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.  Rub brown mustard all over the meat.  Place in a baking dish and roast uncovered for up to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it!  You want to crisp the skin but not burn it.

    Reduce the heat to 300F/150C on regular bake.  

  2. Take the pork belly drippings and add to the skillet.  Heat up.  Finely chop the small onion and sautè in the skillet.  Finely chop the garlic and add that to the skillet.  While the onion is becoming translucent chop up the mushrooms and sauté. 

  3. Once the mushrooms begin to brown add the bouillon, brandy and mustard.  Stir well and let simmer.  

  4. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions.

  5. Add lettuce greens to the plate, top with quinoa, pork belly, and the sauce.  

Basil Wine Sauce Over Grilled Salmon

It’s been a very interesting week getting the new business off the ground.  Aside from opening up the Etsy shop I also did a local art show called Art in the Park.  It was a great experience as I was able to get advice from fellow artists and everyone was so positive.  In addition to getting a few sales I also got great positive feedback which lets me know I’m not tilting at windmills.

I also upgraded this site to the business level and spent quality time with the “happiness engineers” to get a shop set up on my blog.  It took several hours as I seem to have a knack to ask for stuff that require special coding.  I still have a few more things to do but it’s all a go now!

Earlier this summer, when we were in Swanage, we took my in-laws out to dinner to thank them for putting us up and putting up with us.  We tried an Italian restaurant in town which wasn’t too bad.  The highlight of the meal was for my daughter and I as we ordered poached salmon with an amazing basil sauce.  She and I raved about it.  Once all the summer adventures were over I knew I needed to make this again as a treat.

I will admit, using fresh basil in it’s prime is best.  Our basil in the garden is a bit past it’s prime but the flavour was still there.

Prep the salmon first.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Slice a lemon to grill the salmon on.

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Pick a bunch, about three handfuls.  Wash and blend with a third a cup of dry white wine.

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In a saucepan melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter.  Add 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, along with the basil and wine.  Sauté on low to medium heat.  The goal is to have a hint of the white wine come through with the basil being the highlight.  If need be, add more butter to get the right balance.  Sometimes the wine can be a bit harsh.

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While this is cooking, grill up the salmon.  I also grilled chicken for my husband and son. Do up a fresh salad and top with the salmon and sauce.

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I was hoping this meal was the swan song of the summer but the summer just won’t quit!  My daughter enjoyed this and was happy I can recreate the dish for us.  I think the best trips down memory lane are food related.

Korean BBQ Steak Salad

I am on a serious Asian flavour kick lately.  With the sticky hot weather it is great to be able to lean on all the flavours but not be heavy.  It also helps me from getting thoroughly sick of salads!  But even with air conditioning, the suffocating heat and humidity the idea of pasta and such doesn’t appeal.

I had made this dish a few weeks ago when we had friends over for dinner and I knew our kids would love it so now that camp is over it was time to make it again.  Their summer adventures are over and school starts next week so we’re getting back into routine again.  Our daughter is applying to universities and our son has four more years left before he flies the coop.  It goes by so fast.

I have a Williams – Sonoma cookery book simply called Asian.  A lot of thought went into that, obviously.  I adapted it based on the ingredients I had on hand.

Korean BBQ 1 2018

I made the dipping sauce/dressing and the marinade at the same time.  I did this several hours prior to grilling.  We’re still working on our bedroom so I knew I also wanted a quick dinner where I do most of the work before we exhausted ourselves painting and installing flooring.

Now I’ve tried the technique that the book mentions twice but without success but I’ll go over it and then just say not to stress or worry about it because you will still get the flavours needed.  They say to make a paste of sugar and garlic with the back of your knife.  I’ve seen it be successful on shows but for the life of me I couldn’t get it to do as it was supposed to.

Korean BBQ 2 2018

Chop up 4-5 cloves of garlic and add a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Attempt to make it into a paste.  Swear a bit then say to the hell with it and add 2/3 of it to one bowl and the rest to a smaller bowl.

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Add 6 tablespoons of soy sauce in the larger bowl and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce in the smaller bowl.  A tablespoon of sesame oil in the large and a couple of teaspoons of the oil in the smaller.  A tablespoon of rice vinegar in each bowl.  A small handful of sliced scallions in each along with a tablespoon of water.   In the larger bowl grate an inch/2.5cm cube of fresh ginger.  Add a dollop or two of the Gochujang paste to the dipping sauce.

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Mix both well.  Set aside the dipping sauce for later.  I had a pound of steak tips so I cubed them to be about 2in/5cm in size.  Toss the meat in the marinade, make sure the meat is well coated and covered.

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Cover and chill until it’s time to grill.

Fire up the grill and put the meat onto skewers.

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Grill it until the desired doneness.  We prefer medium rare for our beef.

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Once it’s done, add it to the salad and use the dipping sauce as a dressing.

Korean BBQ 9 2018It is also great as part of an Asian tapas night or over rice.  But for now we’re keeping it light until the cooler weather finally arrives.  Hopefully that comes soon!

 

Pineapple Asian Chicken

I have a little vent before I get to my recipe.  Thursdays are my grocery shop day and I headed to our co-op.  They leave water out for the dogs which is great on hot days like this but the whole front is covered by concrete which gets quite hot.  When I pulled in I could hear a dog whinging.  There was a small dog tied up outside on the hot concrete.  It kept lifting its paws.  I took out one of my cloth bags and laid it down and the pup immediately sat down on it.  I sat on the bench to wait for the owner so the dog could keep it’s paws off the concrete.

I only waited a couple of minutes before the owner came out.  She was not happy with me at all!  I said the dog’s paws were too hot because of the concrete and she very dismissively said the dog was fine.  I didn’t leave right away and said if a dog keeps trying to lift all their paws, they aren’t all right.  She was a bit shirty with me but I didn’t care and then she noticed the cloth bag and asked if it was mine and tossed it to me.  Honestly, while I would never tie my dog outside somewhere, if I did and someone said the pup was distressed I wouldn’t be bitchy about it!  I really don’t understand people.

I hope I got my point across!

Last week while we were running errands I got peckish and grabbed some turkey jerky.  A very strange texture but the flavour was really good so I made note of the ingredients as I thought it would make a great marinade for some chicken wings I needed to use up.

Pineapple Asian Chicken 1 2018

Now I don’t get anything for “promoting” the ingredients in the picture, they just happen to be what we like to buy and use.  In a bowl or container add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice, a splash of lime juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  Finely chop 2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on their size, and grate 1in/2.5cm cube of fresh ginger.

Pineapple Asian Chicken 2 2018

Whisk until the ingredients are well blended.  Taste and adjust the flavours as you like.  Toss the chicken wings to coat well.

Pineapple Asian Chicken 3 2018

Marinate for at least an hour, I marinated for most of the day.  When it was time for dinner I fired up the grill and prepped the ingredients.  Out I go to grill the wings and find we ran out of gas.  Thank goodness for the stove top griddle so I got that heated up and began to grill the wings.

Pineapple Asian Chicken 4 2018

I also grilled some mushrooms and jalapeño as sides to the salad.  It’s much easier on the grill as the wings are surrounded by the heat.  When it is stovetop you have to keep turning and making sure nothing catches while you are trying to get it cooked through.

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Serve on top of a salad and enjoy.  A very easy meal to throw together if you have a crazy busy day.  🙂

Peach and Jalapeño Grilled Steak

While I’m not a fan of the heat of summer I do love the flavours of summer.  The shops are starting to have peaches and other stone fruits which means light delicious meals and desserts.

It’s been a busy week but I wanted to make a nice meal for my husband and myself last night.  Peaches sparked an idea and jalapeño is one of my husband’s favourite hot peppers.  A match is made!

Peach steak 1 2018

I prepped the corn by soaking the ears before grilling and dusted the steak with chili powder and cumin.

Peach steak 2 2018

Slice up a quarter red onion.  Begin to sweat them in a hot skillet with olive oil.  Slice the jalapeño.  I removed the seeds because sometimes the pepper can be very hot and I didn’t want to overwhelm the peach.  I also started with half a pepper.

Peach steak 3 2018

Sauté the pepper and onion for a few minutes.  I sliced up three small peaches.  You can tell it’s the beginning of the season as the peaches were quite small.  Add the peaches.  Cook for a few minutes.  Fire up the grill to start grilling the corn.  I grill the corn, unshucked, 5 minutes a side.  Season the peach with chili pepper and cumin.  Add a splash of lime juice.  After tasting I added the rest of the pepper as there wasn’t much heat.

Peach steak 4 2018

Grill the steak to the desired doneness.  We like ours on the rare side.  Once cooked, rest the steak for a few minutes then slice.  Shuck the corn.  Place the steak on salad greens and spoon the peach over the steak.

Peach steak 5 2018

Bring on summer flavours, just not the heat.  Unless it’s in the food.  🙂

 

Creamy Lemon Bacon Chicken Pasta

It was a rite of passage this past weekend for our daughter with the high school prom.  She’s been to friends proms in the past but this was the first for her high school.  I have to say, proms have come a long way since I last had to worry about prom.  It’s much more inclusive and more often than not, groups of students go as friends rather than missing out because a date couldn’t be found.  Way better!

My daughter had a few friends over to get ready before her date showed up.  I did my first ever updo.  It came out ok, phew!  It was lovely to see that all the girls dressed in elegant dresses, no hoochie mamas.  Some of the dresses I’ve seen in the past few years leave little to the imagination.  Thankfully that trend wasn’t to prevalent this time round.

Unfortunately the weather was very rainy so we just did photos round the house.  The weather did bring in some cooler weather which called for comfort food!  I saw a recipe calling for bacon and mushroom in a cream sauce.  That sparked an idea.  Lemon and grilled chicken would be a great addition.

I kept the marinade for the chicken very simple.  With a ratio of about 2:1 olive oil to lemon juice, whisk those together with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and marinate for a couple of hours.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 1 2018

When it’s time to cook up the dinner, grill the chicken and cook up the pasta.  Cut into small squares, 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon.  Start cooking the bacon in a large skillet.  Slice a few mushrooms and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic.  Sauté the ingredients with the bacon.  Add a handful of fresh thyme.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 2 2018

When the bacon is nearly cooked add 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  You want this to be really lemony at this point so the brightness isn’t lost in the cream and pasta.  Bring this to a simmer then add a 1/3 cup/3oz of heavy cream.  Cook on low until the chicken and pasta are done cooking.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 3 2018

Slice the chicken and add that and the pasta to the skillet and stir well.  Right before serving add a bunch of arugula or spinach and let wilt.

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Serve and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

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Comfort food with the lightness of lemon, great for a cool spring night.

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken

On Sunday, the day I made this meal, we were faced with how surreal life is.  It was a gorgeous day and we were tackling the hops (seriously never plant those!).  We were struck by how busy the fire and police departments were.  While we were planting some veg in the back we realised the current set of sirens didn’t go past our house.

Out of curiosity we wandered out front to see 5 cop cars, 2 ambulances, and various other vehicles.  Something was definitely up.  A few minutes later an ambulance went tearing up the road.  The initial report was someone shot himself by accident and he was belligerent which caused the cops to be called to hospital.  Unfortunately the real story was worse.  The man died and the guy who shot him is in jail for felony manslaughter.

It’s a bit shocking in our small town.  What made it all surreal for me was as they were putting up the crime tape I noticed how life continues on.  The next door neighbour to the crime scene was mowing the lawn, people were walking their dog and we’re were putting about in the garden.  I know it’s how life works but I found it jarring.

After all the work in the garden we wanted a light dinner.  I had seen a few recipes involving orange juice and mustard, orange juice and thyme or orange juice and garlic.  I thought I could come up with a recipe involving all of it.  Lots of flavour and still keeping it light.

In a bowl add equal parts orange juice and olive oil.  Finely chop a few cloves of garlic and add it to the bowl with a handful of fresh thyme.  Add a dash of lemon juice and a good heaping spoonful of stoneground mustard.

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Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add the chicken breast to marinate for a couple of hours.

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When it’s time for dinner fire up the grill.

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I did up a fresh salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber and carrot.  I do love salad season!

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 4 2018

Here’s hoping the upcoming weekend is a lot quieter for all.

Bacon Wrapped Steak Salad and They Really Should Teach Body Mechanics in PE

I was able to touch my toes today.  So what you say?  Well, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to do that!  I had to bend my knees a little but I got there.  Part of what helped was reading an article from NPR about the proper way to bend to pick up things.  Seems so basic but it really changed things for me.

I was speaking with my massage therapist today and casually mentioned I was discussing with my husband how they should teach body mechanics in Physical Education.  Perhaps if they did less of us wouldn’t find us feeling old as we hit our 30’s and 40’s.  She completely agreed as she definitely sees all sorts of body issues.  Just add it to the long list of things that kids should learn before heading out into the world!

Bacon Steak Salad 1 2018

Only five more shifts of tax season, not that I’m counting!  But the last few weeks mean I need to come up with simple dishes to cook on the days I’m home in the evening because my brain is fried!  I came across a dish with steak wrapped in streaky bacon with the usual Worcestershire sauce, which is tasty but I wanted to mix it up a bit with a fresh salad and Italian flavours.

Bacon Steak Salad 2 2018

At least an hour ahead of cooking marinate the steak.  In a bowl add two parts olive oil and one part balsamic vinegar.  Finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on size, and finely chop a small handful of fresh oregano and thyme.  Add a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Cube the steak.  I used steak tips as the co-op has a great local source, so good! Add the steak to the marinade.

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When it’s time to cook, wrap each cube in half a rasher of streaky bacon and place on a skewer.

Bacon Steak Salad 5 2018

If you remembered to get propane for the grill, use the grill but as I hadn’t done that I used the griddle on the cooktop.  Get it to medium high.  You don’t want it too hot because you don’t want to burn the bacon before the steak get’s cooked.

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Use the marinade to baste the bacon and turn frequently so, again, the bacon doesn’t burn.  While this is cooking put together a fresh salad with mozzarella cheese and fresh made balsamic vinaigrette.  Use 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar.

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I’m definitely ready for salad season.  Love the lightness and all the flavours.

Cheese and Onion Pie, a Treat for My Husband

“Oooh, I do like a bit of cheese” as Wallace likes to claim.  It’s a sentiment we agree with.  Maybe a bit too much but hey, we all have our vices!  One of my husband’s favourite crisp flavours is cheese and onion so I thought as a treat I would make a cheese and onion pie.  As I thought it was a treat from his childhood I wanted to get this right!

Cheese and onion pie 1 2018

This is not overly difficult but there are a lot of steps to this.  You’ll need a few hours to get this done.  I researched several recipes and decided to use this Foodie with Family recipe as a guide.  I did change a few things.

I had two very large onions which I sliced thinly.  Oh the tears!  In a skillet melt 4 tablespoons of butter to start with.  Add more butter as needed as the onions cook down.

Cheese and onion pie 2 2018

The onions will mound up in the skillet but after several minutes of slowly cooking the onions will soften and cook down.

As the onions cook, add 1/2 cup of veg bouillon and about 5 teaspoons of coleman’s mustard.  Feel free to add a bit more if you like the heat.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Simmer for a few minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

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Remove from the heat and let cool.  Grate 1 1/2 pounds/675oz of sharp cheddar cheese.  Yes, it’s a huge amount of cheese!  In a large bowl beat two eggs and add 1/2 cup/4oz double cream.  Add the onions.

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Mix in the cheese completely.

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Set that aside.  Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Next prepare the hot water pastry, though in this case it’s hot milk pastry.  In a mixing bowl sift together 3 cups/12 3/4 oz of all purpose flour and 3/4 tsp of kosher salt.  Make a well in the flour.

In a saucepan, melt a cup/1/2 pound of butter, 1/3 cup/2.5oz of whole milk and about 4 teaspoons of coleman’s mustard.

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Simmer but don’t boil.  Pour into the flour well.

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Mix well until the ingredients come together in a ball.

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On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for a couple of minutes to work the gluten.  This is a pastry where you don’t have to worry about overworking which is a nice change.

Line a 10″/25cm springform pan with parchment paper.  Divide the dough into two balls, roughly in a 60/40 ratio.  Now this dough is very fiddly!  There were some words spoken as I rolled it out and tried to get it into the pan.  Forget having it done in one piece!  Use your knuckles to press it into the pan and up the sides.

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Fill the pastry with the cheese and onion mixture.  Top with the remaining pastry.  As best you can pinch the seam of the top and bottom together.  Use a knife to cut vents in the top.  Beat an egg and add a tablespoon of the whole milk.  Brush this over the top of the pie.

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Bake 60-75 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

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Let it cool and allow the cheese to set a bit before serving.  I found I prefer it served cold but it’s good warm or cold.

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My husband loved this.  Turns out this was the first ever cheese and onion pie he had!  So instead of an old tradition it’s become a new one.  🙂

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Pork Loin with Mustard Garlic White Wine Sauce

With this week’s nor’easter we weren’t sure if the kids would be at school to participate in the national walkout to protest the mass shootings that keep happening in this country.  We had a snow day on Tuesday but only a delay yesterday.  Both kids at each of their schools joined in and I couldn’t be prouder.  It’s so important for people, kids in particular, to find a way to get their point across in a mindful way.  May they bring about the change that is so needed.

I’d love to say that this storm was the last but we’re not going to be that lucky.  Another one coming next week!  So over this winter.

I wanted to treat the family to a nice Saturday meal this past weekend that would have a side of Brussel sprouts as it’s a treat for my husband.  I was puttering about on the Pinterest site and I saw many recipes for mustard and garlic pork and then white wine garlic pork and I thought, why not do it all?

Mustard garlic pork 1 2018

A couple of hours before dinner I did up the marinade for the pork loin.  In a bowl that would fit the loin add a 1/3 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of white wine.  Finely chop 4-5 cloves of garlic and a healthy handful of fresh thyme.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

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Score the pork loin, season with sea salt and pepper and add it to the bowl and make sure the marinade coats the pork well.  Set aside in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When it was time to cook everything up I prepped the potatoes and parsnips for roasting.  I really like them cut into disks.  I find I get a lovely golden roast on the veg.  Brush them with olive oil and season, again!, with sea salt and pepper.

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Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Take the pork out of the fridge and put on a sheet to roast.  Mix 2 tablespoons each of brown sugar and brown mustard and brush it onto the pork.

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Pop it into the oven along with the potatoes and parsnips.  In a skillet add the remaining marinade and mustard mix.

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Bring to a low simmer and add a cup/8oz of chicken stock.  Simmer slowly while the the pork cooks.  As it reduces add more chicken stock if needed to balance out the flavours and to make sure you have enough sauce.  You don’t want a watery sauce but you want enough to go round!

As I mentioned my husband loves Brussel sprouts so I pan seared a bunch for him and our daughter.  Our son and I don’t like them so I did up some green beans for us.

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When the pork is done let it rest for several minutes then slice and layer over the potatoes.  Spoon the sauce over the pork and serve with veg and parsnips.

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This had so many delicious flavours that worked together.  We all really enjoyed this meal.