Christmas went by way too quickly....probably because I only had the weekend off and then had to get back to work. I loved our tree this year, with all the presents under the tree, the fireplace and decorations our house was very festive.
We spent Christmas at home in Seattle, which was fitting because it will be our last one in Seattle.
On the day before Christmas Eve we went out to eat at a restaurant called Sea Star, which as of that dinner is my favorite seafood restaurant in Seattle. Lets add that to the list of things I'll miss about Seattle - the seafood. Anyway, everyone was impressed.
On Christmas Eve, we hung around the house finishing wrapping, cooking and relaxing. In the evening we went to see the gingerbread house displays and some of the big decorated trees in down town Seattle. For dinner I wanted to try a sort of Italian theme. On the menu was Fettucini Alfredo with peas and fresh Dungeness Crab, Eggplant gratin and a Chopped Salad with dried cranberries and pears. For dessert we had an mocha ice box cake, which was my replacement for Tiramisu. Kenneth make the Fettucini from memory and I make the gratin and ice box cake both recipes from Ina Garten. Have I mentioned that I love her? It was a lovely evening with amazing food. I would do it the same way again.
We woke up on Christmas morning and Kenneth made a Pithivier with ham and swiss cheese. It was like a crossiant..perfect with a hot cup of coffee. We opened presents throughout the day, taking breaks to open Finleys extensive pile. She needed a nap break. It was extremely entertaining to watch her open. She took her time tearing off each tiny piece one at a time and putting them in the garbage can. She got lots of great gifts - clothes, a new coat, building & stacking toys, and lots of books. The highlights of the other gifts were a Roomba for Ben and a canvas designed by our friend Amy of a recent photoshoot with Finley for Frances.
We had a nice walk with the dogs to get some fresh air and enjoy the lack of people at the school yard.
Our Christmas dinner was another really good meal. It took us awhile to decide which type of meat to cook. It was between a lamb crown roast, a rack of pork roast or prime rib. We decide to go with the pork. This was the best pork I've ever had. I can't wait to make it again. Despite my hatred of the words tender and moist, they are the best words to describe this pork. We also had carmelized onion sweet potatoes and roasted green beans with shallots and hazelnuts. I planned a carrot cake for dessert, but we all agreed that this would have been too much with plenty of chocolate around the house and left over ice box cake.
Brined Roast Rack of Pork with Apple Chutney and Sour Mash Sauce
- 6 cups water
- 1 container apple juice concentrate, thawed
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 10 black peppercorns
- 10 mustard
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (3 to 4-pound) center cut rack of pork, Frenched and fat removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups whiskey (recommended: Jack Daniels)
- 5 cups homemade chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley plus parsley sprigs for garnish
- Apple-Ginger Chutney, recipe follows
Bring the water, apple juice concentrate, salt, sugar, onion, peppercorns, mustard seeds, thyme and bay leaves to a simmer in a large stock pot and cook until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool completely. Submerge the roast in the brine by placing a plate on top, then cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Season the pork all over with salt and pepper and cook on both sides until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven until cooked to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes.
While the pork is roasting, add the whiskey to the saute pan that the pork was cooked in, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and cook until almost completely reduced. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to a sauce consistency. Whisk in the butter, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley.
Cut pork into chops, top each chop with some of the Apple-Ginger Chutney, and drizzle a little of the sauce around the pork and over the chutney.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, then add the orange juice, brown sugar, and honey and bring to a simmer. Stir in the apples, allspice and salt and pepper, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the apples are soft and the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Serve with the pork.
By Bobby Flay