Baby it’s Warm Outside: Roast Pork and Canadian-Floridian Braised Cabbage

While my friends and family back in Canada look out the window at that storm, I’m sitting in balmy warmth remembering childhood holidays filled with waves upon a tropical shore. The white blanketed images that I’ve seen posted on Facebook (it’s up to your knees out there!) make me want to cook something warm and comforting while listening to the fireplace roar. But in this Central Florida November heat, do I really want to be near a fire, or even worse, slaving away in a hot kitchen? The answer is no.

This roast pork recipe is exactly what I’ll need for a comfy but simple Sunday dinner this weekend. It’s hearty but is brightened by the oranges from my backyard tree, now heavy with fruit. The ingredients are prepped and then cooked in one roasting pan in the oven, thus reducing the amount of time I’ll have to spend in a hot kitchen.

Do steps #1 and #2 the night before, the morning of, or just before cooking the roast.

1) Combine these ingredients in a small bowl:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed (I use a mortar and pestle but you can use a clean coffee grinder or place the seeds on a cutting board and use the side of a large knife to break them up)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage (8-10 leaves) or 1 tbsp dried if necessary
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley (a nice handful of leaves chopped up will give about 2 tbsp)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

2) Place a 3-4 lb pork roast (either a boneless loin, bone in loin or a rib roast) on a plate and smooth the above mixture onto all sides. If you’re pre-doing this step, cover it in plastic wrap and put it into the fridge until 20 minutes before you’re ready to pre-heat the oven and get dinner going.

3) Preheat the oven to 350F.

4) Into a large roasting pan combine the following:

  • a 3-4 lb red cabbage, cored and then thinly sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • the segments from 4 small-medium oranges (here’s how to segment an orange)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (you will get more than enough juice dripping off the oranges into a bowl as you segment, especially if you give any remaining parts of the orange a good squeeze before discarding)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 ounces Canadian back bacon, sliced into thin strips

5) Transfer the pork roast from the plate onto the bed of cabbage, skin side up. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of roast (not touching bone) is at 155F (it will rise to 160F upon standing afterward), approximately 25-30 minutes per pound of roast. Stir the cabbage mixture once or twice throughout the cooking time. Other than that, there’s nothing to do until the roast is ready!

6) Why not put some records on while I pour some wine?

7) Remove the roast to a carving board to rest for at least 10 minutes. Put the roaster of cabbage back into the oven to stay warm. Serve slices of roast topped with the orange-braised cabbage.

I like to serve this fragrant white rice alongside the pork and cabbage:

To each cup of uncooked rice add 1/4 tsp salt, 2tsp butter, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 bay leaf. Then cook the rice according to the directions on the package or follow instructions found here. I would use the Conventional Oven Method (remember to use boiling water) in this case because the oven is at 350F for the roast already. Once you take the rice out of the oven, keep it covered and it will stay warm for quite awhile.

Please let me know what you think of this recipe. Well, only let me know if you like it. If you don’t like it, what’s the sense in hurtin’ my pride?

Note: There are lyrics sprinkled throughout this post from the song Baby it’s Cold Outside. A truly wonderful version of the song can be found here. Interesting details about the song are given in the first few seconds of the video.

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