National Pork Board Holiday 2011 promotion

Holiday promotion screen shot

For the National Pork Board’s Holiday 2011 promotion, I was their spokesperson, developing recipes inspired by six holiday food trends, doing media interviews, and being the face of their “Perfect Pairings for the Holidays” program.

TREND / Smitten with Small Plates
Buffalo Pork Skewers with Blue Cheese Sauce and Celery Sticks

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
Oil spray

Blue cheese sauce:*Buffalo Pork Skewers
2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk (low-fat or nonfat is okay)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Tabasco, divided
6 celery ribs, cut crosswise in halves or thirds, then lengthwise into sticks

Special equipment: 18 8-inch skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes if they’re wood or bamboo

Preheat broiler and arrange a rack 4 inches from the heat. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking oil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the blue cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, and milk. Season with salt. In a small bowl, combine the butter and 2 tablespoons of the hot sauce. Set both mixtures aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pork and remaining 2 tablespoons of hot sauce. Season generously with salt. Thread the pork onto skewers and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Broil for 4 minutes. Turn and broil until internal temperature of pork reaches 145 degrees F, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove pork from broiler and let rest at least 3 minutes. While pork is resting, brush both sides with the butter mixture.

Serve the skewers and celery sticks with the blue cheese sauce on the side.

* Instead of making the blue cheese sauce from scratch, you can purchase ready-made blue cheese dressing.

Yield: 6 servings

Serving suggestions:
While this crowd-pleasing appetizer is great for the holidays, it’s also perfect for football weekends, tailgating, and other entertaining year-round. If you’d like, you can use boneless loin chops instead of the tenderloin. And, while it wouldn’t be traditional, you can swap the celery for carrot sticks, or serve a combination of the two.

Bacon and Sweet Potato BiscuitsTREND / DYI 2.0
Bacon and Sweet Potato Biscuits with Smoky Honey Butter

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium or 2 small orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (14 to 16 ounces total), peeled
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and biscuit cutter
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1 cup buttermilk (low-fat is okay)

Honey butter:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey

Wrap the sweet potato with a damp paper towel and microwave on high until very soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, mash with a potato masher, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, then set aside to cool. Carefully set aside 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the skillet (discard the rest).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt, and allspice and pulse a few times. Add the cubed butter and pulse to make a coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and gently mix in the bacon, buttermilk, and 1 cup of the mashed sweet potato (save any remaining potato for another use).

Transfer mixture to a floured work surface and knead a few times to form a dough. Pat the dough to about 1 inch thick, then gently fold in half. Gently repeat 4 more times. Roll the dough out to 3/4-inch thick, then use a floured 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut dough into biscuits, arranging them on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps and repeat to make a total of 12 biscuits. Bake until the biscuits are browned and a tester comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the softened butter, honey, and reserved bacon fat, mixing until smooth. Add salt to taste.

Serve the biscuits with the honey butter on the side.

Yield: 12 biscuits

Serving suggestions:
If you’d like, you can substitute the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt, and butter for 3 cups biscuit mix. For another way to serve the biscuits, split them in half horizontally and add sliced ham to make a ham and biscuit sandwich.

Sausage and Deviled Egg Salad SlidersTREND / Flavor Flashbacks
Sausage and Deviled Egg Salad Sliders

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

8 breakfast sausage patties (about 12 ounces total), about 3 inches in diameter*
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chili sauce, such as Sriracha, or more to taste
2 cups cilantro sprigs (leaves and tender stems)
8 soft dinner rolls, split horizontally

Place the eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage patties until browned and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and cover loosely to keep warm

Drain the eggs and transfer to a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel and coarsely chop the eggs. In a large bowl, combine the chopped eggs, mayonnaise, chives, mustard, and chili sauce. Season with salt and, if desired, additional chili sauce and set aside.

Arrange the cilantro sprigs on the bottom halves of rolls. Top with the sausage patties, egg salad, and top halves of rolls and serve.

*If you can’t find ready-made patties, shape 12 ounces of loose breakfast sausage into 8 3-inch patties.

Yield: 8 servings

Serving suggestions:
This recipe combines the retro appeal of deviled eggs with the modern thrill of sliders, or mini-sandwiches. Enjoy them at your next brunch, lunch, or finger foods party. To mix things up, substitute halved slices of bacon, sliced ham, or Canadian bacon for the sausage. You can also use watercress or arugula in place of the cilantro sprigs.

Italian-Herbed Crown Roast of PorkTREND / Eating Global
Italian-Herbed Crown Roast of Pork with Pan Sauce and Sausage and Parmesan Dressing

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours 45 minutes

1 16-rib pork rib crown roast (about 8 pounds)
2 tablespoons dried Italian herb blend
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry red wine, preferably Italian
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
Sausage and Parmesan Dressing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the pork in a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with the herb blend and generously season with salt and pepper. Roast until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F (check towards interior of crown), about 2 1/4 hours (about 18 minutes per pound).

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain roasting pan and discard liquids; place pan on stovetop over medium-high heat. Add broth and wine. Bring to boil; cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid reduces to 2 cups, about 12 minutes. Reduce to simmer; add butter, stirring until butter melts. Whisk in cornstarch mixture; cook until sauce thickens, just a few seconds. Remove from heat; whisk until smooth. Strain if you like; season with salt and pepper.

Slice the roast. Serve with the pan sauce on the side.

Yield: 16 servings

Serving suggestions:
Feel free to change up the pan sauce by using white wine instead of red. You can also swap the Italian herbs for your favorite dried herb blend.

Sausage and Parmesan Dressing
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes

1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound crusty Italian or French bread, with crusts, cut or torn into 3/4-inch pieces (about 16 cups)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried Italian herb blend
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a very large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage, stirring occasionally and breaking up the pieces, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a large bowl.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the sausage. Add the bread, cheese, and herb blend to the bowl. Add the broth, gently stirring to evenly moisten. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the dressing into a buttered 2 1/2-quart casserole dish. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into pea-sized pieces and dot them over the top. Cover the dressing with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook dressing until heated through and top is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.

Yield: 16 servings

Serving suggestions:
Feel free to change or add to the vegetables in the dressing – diced fennel or chopped tomatoes would fit nicely with the Italian theme. You can also substitute 6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) crumbled gorgonzola for the Parmesan cheese.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled HamTREND / Stepped-Up Sides
Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts and Frizzled Ham

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

6 slices ham (about 3 ounces), cut in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 3/4 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed
1 large orange
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups thinly sliced shallots (8 to 10)
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Working in batches, place the Brussels sprouts in the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a thin slicing disk and slice. (If you don’t have a food processor with a thin slicing disk, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts by hand.) Zest the orange, then squeeze 1/4 cup of orange juice (save any remaining orange for another use). Set Brussels sprouts, orange zest, and orange juice aside.

In a large saucepan or small stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisped and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer ham to a plate and set aside.

Add the butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Stir in the Brussels sprouts. Stir in the orange zest and orange juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until Brussels sprouts are tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, top with the ham, and serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Serving suggestions:
This side dish, a refreshing twist on the usual steamed or roasted Brussels sprouts, would be delicious along side a holiday pork roast – but it’s just as nice with a weeknight pork chop. If you like, substitute bacon or sliced or shredded leftover pork for the ham.

Brunch Strata with Roast PorkTREND / Benefits of Brunch
Brunch Strata with Roast Pork, Green Chiles, and Goat Cheese

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

12 ounces cooked roast pork, shredded or cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 5 cups)
Oil spray
12 ounces crusty Italian or French bread, with crusts, cut or torn into 3/4-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
1 7-ounce can chopped green chiles
4 ounces chevre (spreadable goat cheese), crumbled (about 1 cup)*
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
7 large eggs
3 cups milk (low-fat is okay)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking oil. Arrange 1/3 of the bread in the dish. Top with 1/3 of the pork, 1/3 of the chiles, 1/3 of the cheese, and 1/3 of the sage. Repeat 2 times, making 3 layers. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over casserole and set aside for 20 minutes, pressing on the bread occasionally to help it absorb the liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake until browned and the center is set, about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

*Ideally, don’t use precrumbled cheese – it doesn’t melt as well.

Yield: 12 servings

Serving suggestions:
This recipe is wonderful for Christmas morning or New Years day because it takes advantage of the previous night’s leftover roast. You can substitute cooked sausage – breakfast or Italian – or even diced ham for the pork. On the side, serve a citrus and avocado salad and cinnamon-laced coffee.