Fall into Autumn (Roasted Pork Loin with Fennel, Creamed Swiss Chard, and Pumpkin Rice Pudding with Rum Raisin Mascarpone)

29 Oct

With the cooling weather, I felt like cooking something with seasonal flavor.  These recipes work well for a dinner party because the dessert can be almost completely prepared the night before, the loin takes care of itself after you put it in the oven for the hour to roast, and the Swiss chard is an easy, almost instant, last minute prep.  The host/hostess is left with plenty of time to deal with setting the table, last minute primping, etc.  That being said, this is no easy 30 minute meal, it does require a little planning. 

Roasted Pork Loin with Fennel

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2 to 2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
1/2 lb small onions, such as Cipollini or pearl
1 lb small red potatoes, quartered
2 firm pears (such as Bartlett), cored and cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Crush the fennel seeds.  You can either use the back of a heavy pan, the side of a meat tenderizing mallet, or a mortar and pestle set.  Combine the crushed fennel seeds, garlic, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper in a small bowl.  Place the pork loin(s) in a roasting pan and then coat the loin(s) with the fennel/oil mixture.

In a large bowl, combine onions, potatoes, and pear cubes with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, coating each piece with olive oil.  Scatter the onions, potatoes, and pear cubes around the pork loin.  Roast the whole thing in the oven until the pork loin is cooked through, about 60 to 70 minutes (pork loin internal temperature should be around 160 degrees). 

When serving, remove the pork loin to a cutting board to slice.  Drizzle some of the pan juices over the sliced pork loin and the roasted produce.

Serves 5 to 6.

I served the pork loin with a bottle of Windy Hill Winery’s Red Sunset, a dry red that has a peppery first note with a fruity finish.

The creamed Swiss chard and pumpkin rice pudding recipes are from Tyler Florence’s Thanksgiving recipe collection featured in the November 2007 issue of InStyle.

Creamed Swiss Chard

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It’s like creamed spinach but less boring and much more colorful!

2 lbs Swiss chard
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper

Roughly chop Swiss chard into manageable pieces.  If you lay the entire bunch down, 4 to 5 cuts width-wise should do it.  Separate the stems and leaves.

Bring 6 cups of salted water (about 2 tsp of salt) to boil in large saucepan.  Add chard stems and simmer about 4 minutes.  Add in chard leaves and simmer 2 minutes more.  Drain chard stems and leaves, squeezing out any excess water.  Set aside.

In large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  Stir in flour and continue stirring until mixture forms a paste.  Slowly add cream, garlic, thyme, and nutmeg, whisking constantly until mixture thickens.  Add in drained Swiss chard and stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 5-6

Pumpkin Rice Pudding with Raisin Rum Mascarpone

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For the Pumpkin Rice Pudding:

2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup risotto (arborio rice)
1 cup pumpkin puree

In medium sauce pan, combine milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, salt, and nutmeg.  Bring mixture to a simmer.  Add in arborio rice and stir constantly until mixture returns to a simmer.  Let simmer 40-45 more minutes, stirring often so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan, until rice is tender.

Remove from heat and fold in pumpkin puree until mixture is evenly golden colored throughout.  Transfer to a casserole/baking dish and cover with plastic wrap.  Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Rum Raisin Mascarpone:

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
2 tbsp sugar
8 oz container mascarpone cheese

In small microwave safe bowl, combine raisins, rum, and sugar.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high heat for 30 seconds.  Drain the raisins (yes I know you’re pouring out the rum and some would consider that alcohol abuse).

In a medium bowl, incorporate the rum raisins into the mascarpone cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Final Prep/Assembly:

1 casserole dish pumpkin rice pudding
1/4 cup sugar
1 bowl of rum raisin mascarpone

Preheat oven to broil.  Sprinkle the pumpkin rice pudding with 1/4 cup sugar.  Place rice pudding under the broiler to caramelize the sugar on top (about 3-5 minutes).  This does almost the same thing as torching (as in creme brulee application) for those of us not equipped with a cook’s torch.  Unfortunately, my gas oven did not appear to cook evenly.

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One corner seemed to caramelizing faster than the rest, but nonetheless the caramelized sugar topping was nice and crisp for all of the pudding.

Top each serving of caramelized pumpkin rice pudding with a small scoop of rum raisin mascarpone.

Serves 8-10.

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