Friday, April 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Dinner Party Pork Roast

Each year, for the past four years since I graduated from college, my New Year’s resolution has always been to cook more. As a result of this blog, for the first time ever in my life, I may actually keep a New Year’s resolution.

Dinner Party Pork Roast

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Mid-crisis, I realized Nicko wasn't going to be able to make it and I was going to have to take the photo!! Turned out alirght in the end, but Nicko will be back next week!

Each year, for the past four years since I graduated from college, my New Year’s resolution has always been to cook more. As a result of this blog, for the first time ever in my life, I may actually keep a New Year’s resolution.

My friend Catherine is a very good cook. Ever since starting the blog, she'd been asking about coming over and cooking with me. I've been pretty nervous about this, as I'm new to the cooking scene. But I figured-- it's a New Year-- what the heck? So, we started 2012 off right with a dinner party with good friends!

My mom picked out the Roast Pork Loin recipe and promised me I could handle it. (Even though I’ve been cooking for three months now, I still get stressed out at the idea of having people over and cooking for them). But in the end, (I say begrudgingly), my momma was right.

This recipe is great for beginners like me, who want to host an affordable (yet delicious) dinner for friends.  I stopped at whole foods on my way home from work at picked up a 2.8 pound pork loin, and the rest of the ingredients I didn’t have in my apartment.

When I got home, I preheated the oven to 425. Then, I fell into a slight panic. I realized I didn't have a mortar and pestle to make the rub for the meat AND more importantly, I didn't have a roasting pan to roast the pork! I called my mom in a panic and of course she was on deadline and away from her phone. Luckily, my friend Sadie got me a glass of red wine and told me to relax. I took a deep breath and realized if there is one thing I've learned, it's that cooking is about improvising. I had a big copper pot that could go in the oven and hold all the veggies and the meat-- it was going to have to do.

I sipped the wine, and got to work. First thing I needed was to get the rub on the meat, then I could get to work slicing and dicing the veggies while the meat sat for 30 min. I diced the garlic and thyme and  ground it together with the salt the small food processor. I added the dijon mustard, mixed it together, and rubbed it on the meat.

Once that was done, Catherine arrived at my apartment. She reassured me, the big copper pot I had would be fine for roasting the pork. Whew! Crisis averted. Catherine had also brought over some flour to make some homemade egg noodles to go with our pork roast, veggies and salad. (That recipe to follow). I got her an apron and we got to work in the kitchen. I was on to the veggies, peeling the carrots, chopping the fennel and potatoes. I threw them into the pot with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, I added the pork to the pot and let it all cook together for another 40 min. As the 40 minutes drew to an end, everyone was getting pretty hungry. I grabbed the meat thermometer, inserted into the middle of the pork, and it stayed in the red "raw" zone. Oh boy, I set the timer for 20 more min. Checked again. Not quite done. Finally after 15 more min, the meat thermometer read 138 at the thickest part. (So that was about 25 minutes longer than the recipe said it would take to cook the pork. I do think our oven temperature is off, but I was so glad I had a meat thermometer!)  I pulled the meat out of the oven, and got the salad ready as Catherine finished up her noodles.

At 9 p.m., when we finally sat down to dinner, I realized this why it's good to cook for good friends-- you can enjoy each others company as the meat roasts and roasts in the oven. And when we finally did sit down to eat, the food was delicious! I got an email the next day, "That was the best pork I ever had!!"

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About this blog

Maureen Fitzgerald, Inquirer food editor, has been cooking for 30 years. Her blog started with her daughter, but has been continuing for the past year with school children, this spring with fifth graders at Henry Lawton Elementary in Philadelphia. The program has expanded to 10 schools, with 20 volunteers working with a total of 50 urban children. The program is partnering with the Vetri Foundation for Children and Brown’s Shop Rite is providing the food.

Reach My Daughter's at mfitzgerald@phillynews.com.

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