Part of my summertime routine is morning livestock care. Water must be freshened, food pans filled, general health and happiness assessed. Some people don't understand how we can so lovingly, and ethically raise animals we intend to harvest for our family's yearly meat needs. I suppose that's another topic for another day, but suffice to say, I believe we're doing things as they should be done; the way food has always been grown, since humans first became an agrarian society.
Just please, don't call me a Pig Mama...
Pasture-raised pork is wonderful. Much less fatty, more flavorful, and ostensibly healthier- our pigs receive no unnecessary antibiotics and growth hormones, so common in factory hog operations. I feel good knowing I gave the animal a clean, stress-free life, under open skies, with freedom to wander; and not one of my U.S. dollars goes into the pockets of the commodity farming machine.
Today's recipe calls for one pork product wrapped in another pork product. Twice the flavor, twice the fun, this simple dish comes from Martha Stewart Living, February 2003. I'm not sure how 1 1/2 pounds of pork loin can feed 4 people, but feel free to source a larger petite loin, if desired.
Cooking and baking are what keep me sane. Food fuels the creative turbine in my soul with inspiration and incentive to keep renewing myself day after day. Regardless of drama, pig maladies, duplicitous politicians, or bad coffee.
Well, maybe not bad coffee. I have my limits, after all.
My coffee tastes especially good this morning.
It's one of those mornings. The village is quiet, skies are overcast; damp breeze heralding approaching rain. My husband's long since left for work, eldest son catching the bus to his summer job, and my morning off from summer school carpooling. Even the dogs are relaxed. Humming fans push warm air around the house, adding comforting white noise to an already peaceful home.
Reluctant to listen to the president's early morning speech on the "historic nuclear deal with Iran", I switch over to the only other channel available, but end up muting The Donna Reed Show. It's not that I'm not grateful for the work of worldwide heads of state, and the potential for fewer nukes in the world is certainly a relief; but at my age, I've already heard so many of these bureaucratic homilies; the majority are simply verbal fluff peppered with facts. I'm skeptical of most politicians and their ability to stick to any deal, no matter which country they hail from. Besides, sitting here in my tiny rural valley, pecking away at my laptop, what power do I have to shake global saber-rattlers by the shoulders and scream, "Hey! knock it off, will you? We live on the same planet! Let's just get along, K?"
I doubt any international big-wig would listen. In fact, they would probably snap their mighty fingers at nearby security details, who would come clamoring, removing me from the presence of greatness, like the annoying gnat I would seem.
That's just too much drama.
1 pork loin (1 1/2 pounds)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus several sprigs
1/4 pound pancetta (Italian bacon) or bacon, thinly sliced
8 to 10 cipollini or small white onions, unpeeled
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1. Preheat oven to 375. Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Sear pork on all sides until browned, about 10 minutes total. Remove from heat.
2. Rub pork with chopped rosemary; wrap with pancetta, overlapping strips slightly. Lay rosemary sprig on top; tie pork with kitchen twine. Scatter onions and rosemary springs around pork. Toast in oven, basting occasionally with cooking juices, until internal temperature is 145 on a meat thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer pork and onions to a platter; cover with foil.
3. Make pan sauce: In a small bowl, combine butter and flour. Pour off fat from skillet; place over medium heat. Add stock, scraping bottom of skillet to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce liquid slightly, about 2 minutes. Whisk in butter mixture; cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with pork and onions.