Southwest Stuffed Pork ... behind the scenes at Sunflower Living Magazine, spring 2014 edition

Behind the scenes at the spring edition of Sunflower Living's Chef's Table with Vangie and Steve Henry includes a look at Vangie's entire tablescape + some words of advice from the swine expert. These are both things that did not make it into the magazine. But, what did make it is Vangie's delicious recipe and Larry Harwood's fantastic photos. Check them out at Dish Harmony, Sunflower Living Magazine, spring, 2013, pp. 22-27. 
Here's a photo (taken by Vangie on day of the photo shoot) of her finished
Southwest Stuffed Pork.
SOUTHWEST STUFFED PORK
PREPARATION TIME: 80 minutes, including baking & resting
FEEDS: 4

ABOUT THIS RECIPE:
Vangie’s version of Southwest Stuffed Pork came about after experimenting with a range of spices and other additions. She refers to it as a savory, succulent pork dish. “It’s a much requested entrée for weddings and one that friends and family also enjoy year round,” she reveals.


Rub:
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 1 ½ pounds pork loin

1.     Mix all ingredients until well blended
2.     Rub over pork and set aside.

Stuffing:
Salt and pepper          
⅓ cup chopped dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Trim excess fat from pork.
3.  Create a pocket in the loin by cutting down the center lengthwise, about ¾ of the way deep but leaving ends intact.
4.  Season the inside of the pocket lightly with salt and pepper.
5.  Fill the pocket with the cranberries, press them down to compact; then add and compact the cilantro and pecans.
6.  Use cotton twine to tightly tie the pork.
7.  Heat oil and then place pork, cut side down in hot skillet, and sear on all sides.
8.  After searing place the pork, cut side up, in a greased pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the pork reaches an internal temp of at least 145 degrees, up to 160 degrees. 
9.  Remove roast from oven, tent with foil and let rest 15 to 20 minutes.
10. Remove string and then slice.
11. Serve with Cranberry Compote.
Variation: Vangie sometime adds Pico de Gallo to the stuffing and eliminate the pecans.

CRANBERRY COMPOTE 
Because the cranberries need to soak for at least 20 minutes, Vangie starts the compote before beginning the pork preparation, allowing her to dovetail tasks. The recipe repeats some of the flavors found in both the rub and stuffing, and adds the finishing touch to her meat dish.

2 cups dried cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
½ cup Cointreau or any orange flavored liqueur
1 cup orange juice
½ cup cup chopped shallots
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped jalapeños
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1.  Place cranberries, orange peel, liqueur, and juice in a medium bowl, cover and microwave for 30 seconds. Let set for at least 20 minutes while preparing pork.
2.   Pour the berries into a medium saucepan, add the remaining ingredients and stir until blended. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until most, but not all, of the liquid is absorbed.
3.  Serve with Southwest Stuffed Pork.

EXTRAS:

Vangie's pig-themed tablescape:




WORDS OF WISDOM FROM THE SWINE EXPERT—Dr. Henry offers a few words:
  • Many pork cuts are now as lean or leaner than chicken (USDA), a result of genetic and nutritional improvements.
  • Roasted pork tenderloin is Heart Healthy (American Heart Association) and delicious to boot!
  • Pork cooking temperatures have changed. Pork is very lean and overcooking rapidly makes it dry and tough. The recommended temperature is 145°.
  • For a temperature chart on various pork cuts see http://www.porkbeinspired.com/Basics_PorkCookingTimeChart.aspx
  • For awesome recipes go to www.porkbeinspired.com

Salami-stuffed Bread - 2 ways

   

     A recent trip to Lawrence, KS included a stop at World Market where we bought salami, specialty cheeses and a jar of pepperoncini peppers! 
     Upon arrival at home, I made mini loaves of sourdough French bread, pulled basil pesto out of the freezer, dried tomato pesto from the fridge and created a sliced and stuffed, meat and cheese filled bread. We loved the way it tasted and looked but must admit it was a bit messy to eat. So, the next day, I used another mini loaf of bread to create a more conventional sandwich. Both versions are included below.
     Of course there is no cooking involved, just assembling. And, the ingredients can be varied to your tastes or just use what you have on hand.

Salami Stuffed Bread — sliced vertically and stuffed
1 loaf of French bread
Basil Pesto
Dried Tomato Pesto (we used a commercial product but I’ve blended dried tomatoes, a little garlic, a little Parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil in the food processor to create my own version)
Salami, thinly sliced
Smoked Cheddar Cheese, thinly sliced
Mozzarella Cheese, thinly slices
Pepperoncini Peppers, sliced
  1. Slit bread vertically almost to the bottom of the loaf, creating little pockets that can be stuffed. (I made the cuts close together to maximize the proportion of meat & cheese to bread. When I do this again, I’ll made the bread cuts a little wider as the loaf was so full that by I got to the last half I had a hard time getting all the ingredients added.
  2. Spread basil pesto on one piece of bread, dried tomato pesto on the next. Continue, alternating as you proceed.
  3. Stuff each pocket with a folded slice of salami, a piece of cheese and pepperoncini pepper slices.  I alternated the cheeses as I moved down the loaf.
  4. Place sandwich in the oven (350°) for 5 to 8 minutes, just long enough for cheese to begin to melt.
    Ready to eat!
Salami Stuffed Bread — conventional style
1 loaf of French bread
Basil Pesto
Dried Tomato Pesto (we used a commercial product but I’ve blended dried tomatoes, a little garlic, a little Parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil in the food processor to create my own version)
Salami, thinly sliced
Smoked Cheddar Cheese, thinly sliced
Mozzarella Cheese, thinly slices
Pepperoncini Peppers, sliced
  1. Slit bread horizontally.
  2. Spread basil pesto on one size of  the bread, dried tomato pesto on the other.
  3. Added sliced salami, cheeses and pepperoncini pepper slices to the bottom section of bread. Add top portion.
  4. Place sandwich in the oven (350°) for 5 to 8 minutes, just long enough for cheese to begin to melt. 

Recipes without photos . . .
Salami Stuffed Bread — sliced vertically and stuffed
1 loaf of French bread
Basil Pesto
Dried Tomato Pesto (we used a commercial product but I’ve blended dried tomatoes, a little garlic, a little Parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil in the food processor to create my own version)
Salami, thinly sliced
Smoked Cheddar Cheese, thinly sliced
Mozzarella Cheese, thinly slices
Pepperoncini Peppers, sliced
  1. Slit bread vertically almost to the bottom of the loaf, creating little pockets that can be stuffed. (I made the cuts close together to maximize the proportion of meat & cheese to bread. When I do this again, I’ll made the bread cuts a little wider as the loaf was so full that by I got to the last half I had a hard time getting all the ingredients added.
  2. Spread basil pesto on one piece of bread, dried tomato pesto on the next. Continue, alternating as you proceed.
  3. Stuff each pocket with a folded slice of salami, a piece of cheese and pepperoncini pepper slices.  I alternated the cheeses as I moved down the loaf.
  4. Place sandwich in the oven (350°) for 5 to 8 minutes, just long enough for cheese to begin to melt.

Salami Stuffed Bread — conventional style
1 loaf of French bread
Basil Pesto
Dried Tomato Pesto (we used a commercial product but I’ve blended dried tomatoes, a little garlic, a little Parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil in the food processor to create my own version)
Salami, thinly sliced
Smoked Cheddar Cheese, thinly sliced
Mozzarella Cheese, thinly slices
Pepperoncini Peppers, sliced
  1. Slit bread horizontally.
  2. Spread basil pesto on one size of  the bread, dried tomato pesto on the other.
  3. Added sliced salami, cheeses and pepperoncini pepper slices to the bottom section of bread. Add top portion.
  4. Place sandwich in the oven (350°) for 5 to 8 minutes, just long enough for cheese to begin to melt. 

Cooking for Two — Deluxe Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

     Leftover ham prompted Deluxe Scalloped Potatoes for two. My recipe starts with a seasoned Basic White Sauce to which I added sautéed onion and mushrooms, Cheddar cheese and ham. I simply added the sauce to layers of thinly sliced russet potatoes.
     This makes enough for seconds or a leftover portion for the next day.

Deluxe Scalloped Potatoes & Ham
3 tablespoons butter
½ of a onion, finely chopped
3 button mushroom, sliced thin
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
Liberal dash of black pepper
Light sprinkling of cayenne pepper
½ to ¾ cups grated Cheddar cheese (more or less to your taste)
About 1 cup (more or less) of chopped ham
2 to 3 russet potatoes, peeled & sliced thin
Paprika
  1. White Sauce: Over low heat in saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and sauté, then add mushrooms and cook a couple of minutes. Stir in flour and cook 3 to 5 minutes to avoid a raw flour taste. Add milk, and stir until smooth and thick. Add salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cheese and ham as it cooks.
    Sauce is cooking but not yet thickened.
  2. Spray casserole dish with pan release. Add a layer of white sauce mixture, then a layer of potatoes and sprinkle with paprika; repeat, ending with a layer of sauce and another sprinkling of paprika.
    First layer of potatoes have been added to the deluxe white sauce.
    A layer of the deluxe white sauce covers a layer of potatoes.
    Layered sauce and potatoes is ready to go into the oven.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 350° oven with lid on for first 15 to 20 minutes; then remove lid and bake until potatoes are fork tender and top is nicely browned and mixture is bubbly.
    Scalloped potatoes and ham ready to go into our small Breville oven. By the way, the casserole is a hand thrown Barry's Original!
    Out of the oven, and ready to serve.
    I portioned our Deluxe Scalloped Potatoes & Ham and served Aunt Waunita's Broccoli Salad on the side.
Recipe without photos . . .
Deluxe Scalloped Potatoes & Ham
3 tablespoons butter
½ of a onion, finely chopped
3 button mushroom, sliced thin
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
Liberal dash of black pepper
Light sprinkling of cayenne pepper
½ to ¾ cups grated Cheddar cheese (more or less to your taste)
About 1 cup (more or less) of chopped ham
2 to 3 russet potatoes, peeled & sliced thin
Paprika
  1. White Sauce: Over low heat in saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and sauté, then add mushrooms and cook a couple of minutes. Stir in flour and cook 3 to 5 minutes to avoid a raw flour taste. Add milk, and stir until smooth and thick. Add salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cheese and ham as it cooks.
  2. Spray casserole dish with pan release. Add a layer of white sauce mixture, then a layer of potatoes and sprinkle with paprika; repeat, ending with a layer of sauce and another sprinkling of paprika.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 350° oven with lid on for first 15 to 20 minutes; then remove lid and bake until potatoes are fork tender and top is nicely browned and mixture is bubbly.

Asian-inspired Salad & Dressing — it's all abut the dressing

Bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, shredded carrots, Napa cabbage, hard cooked eggs, poached chicken, a sprinkling of toasted almonds and even sesame seeds – this salad (arranged Cobb-style) is definitely filled with Asian-inspired ingredients. But, it’s the dressing that really makes this salad; it is definitely a friend of the ingredients!

Q: What did the salad say to the dressing?
A: Lettuce be friends!

Asian-inspired Salad & Dressing
Vary amounts based on the number being served; ingredients may also be varied. Other nice additions might be celery, peppers, water chestnuts, etc. Or, leave out the chicken and turn this salad into a side dish.

Napa cabbage, cut into thin slices
Shredded carrots
Bean sprouts, rinsed
Cooked chicken (I used poached thighs because we like the flavor; or use leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken )
Hard cooked eggs, chopped (I used one per person)
Toasted almonds slices
Toasted sesame seeds
Dressing — recipe follows
  1. To arrange Cobb-style: line up rows of the various ingredients next to one another. There is no exact order but my guideline is to make it attractive and colorful.
  2. Sprinkle with almonds and sesame seeds and drizzle lightly with dressing. Serve with extra dressing on the side. 
Dressing:
4 tablespoons rice vinegar (it’s lighter and sweeter than regular vinegar)
1 tablespoon soy sauce, lower-sodium variety
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼  teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable (canola) oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  1. In small bowl whisk vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper until dissolved.
  2. Add oils and whisk until well blended.
  3. Whisk in toasted sesame seeds.
We even have what we think is the perfect dessert to go with our Asian-inspired Salad . . .
Spice Island Ginger Cookies
Fresh fruit slices: Kiwi & Blood Oranges
Recipes without photos . . .
Asian-inspired Salad & Dressing
Vary amounts based on the number being served; ingredients may also be varied. Other nice additions might be celery, peppers, water chestnuts, etc. Or, leave out the chicken and turn this salad into a side dish.

Napa cabbage, cut into thin slices
Shredded carrots
Bean sprouts, rinsed
Cooked chicken (I used poached thighs because we like the flavor; or use leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken )
Hard cooked eggs, chopped (I used one per person)
Toasted almonds slices
Toasted sesame seeds
Dressing — recipe follows
  1. To arrange Cobb-style: line up rows of the various ingredients next to one another. There is no exact order but my guideline is to make it attractive and colorful.
  2. Sprinkle with almonds and sesame seeds and drizzle lightly with dressing. Serve with extra dressing on the side. 
Dressing:
4 tablespoons rice vinegar (it’s lighter and sweeter than regular vinegar)
1 tablespoon soy sauce, lower-sodium variety
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼  teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable (canola) oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  1. In small bowl whisk vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper until dissolved.
  2. Add oils and whisk until well blended.
  3. Whisk in toasted sesame seeds.

Risotto Cakes — using leftover risotto

Risotto Cake garnished with fresh chives.
  The idea for these Risotto Cakes came from Kelsey Nixon, Kelsey’s Essential on the Cooking Channel.  However, rather than cooking my own risotto, I used what was leftover from a meal that Barry prepared (I asked him to make extra). This recipe, is indeed, a GREAT way to use leftover risotto and we’ll certainly prepare these cakes again!
     I am providing the link to Kelsey’s original recipe that starts with preparation of the risotto (below), but here’s my version of her idea . . .

Risotto Cakes using leftover risotto
Lefover prepare risotto, cooled and chilled
Frozen peas (I used about ½ to ¾ cup per 2 cups of risotto)
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped chives (our chives are up and I couldn’t resist)
Grated Parmesan (I used about ½ cup per 2 cups of risotto)
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste
About ½ to ¾ cup seasoned all-purpose flour, for dredging (I added just a little salt & pepper & a liberal sprinkling of paprika)
1 egg, beaten
About 1 cup panko breadcrumbs + 1 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Olive oil, for frying
  1. Add peas, chives, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to prepared risotto. Form the mixture into burger-size patties, about 1-inch thick. 
    I used a scoop to portion the risotto into balls before flattening.
  2. Set up a dredging station with the seasoned flour in one dish, beaten eggs in another and panko breadcrumbs in another.
  3. Dip the rice patties into the flour, then into the eggs and finally coat them in the panko breadcrumbs. 


    Risotto cakes in their final dredging station where the panko is added.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 1/2-inch olive oil over medium heat until a pinch of panko sizzles when dropped in the oil.
  5. Working in batches of 2 to 3, fry the risotto cakes until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

  6. Transfer to a wire rack, which will help them stay crispy.
Recipe without photos . . .
Risotto Cakes using leftover risotto
Lefover prepare risotto, cooled and chilled
Frozen peas (I used about ½ to ¾ cup per 2 cups of risotto)
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped chives (our chives are up and I couldn’t resist)
Grated Parmesan (I used about ½ cup per 2 cups of risotto)
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste
About ½ to ¾ cup seasoned all-purpose flour, for dredging (I added just a little salt & pepper & a liberal sprinkling of paprika)
1 egg, beaten
About 1 cup panko breadcrumbs + 1 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Olive oil, for frying
  1. Add peas, chives, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to prepared risotto. Form the mixture into burger-size patties, about 1-inch thick.
  2. Set up a dredging station with the seasoned flour in one dish, beaten eggs in another and panko breadcrumbs in another.
  3. Dip the rice patties into the flour, then into the eggs and finally coat them in the panko breadcrumbs. 


  4. In a large skillet, heat 1/2-inch olive oil over medium heat until a pinch of panko sizzles when dropped in the oil.
  5. Working in batches of 2 to 3, fry the risotto cakes until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack, which will help them stay crispy.
Related Recipes on our blog include:

Total Time: 1 hr 30 min /Prep: 20 min /Inactive Prep: 30 min / Cook: 40 min
Level: Intermediate
Yield: 6 large cakes
INGREDIENTS
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup Arborio rice
3/4 cups dry white wine
5 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 ounces low-moisture shredded mozzarella
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS
For the risotto: In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth to a simmer. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots to the butter, cooking until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and lightly toast, stirring to coat in the butter and shallots. Add the white wine, continuing to cook while stirring until the wine is absorbed. You should be able to run your spoon through the risotto and have the indentation stay. 

Using a ladle, add enough of the warm chicken broth to cover the rice, stirring constantly over medium heat until the broth is completely absorbed. Repeat the process 3 more times, adding the broth in stages while continuing to stir. Once all of the chicken broth has been added and the rice is tender, add the peas, lemon juice and lemon zest and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, mozzarella and season with salt and pepper. Cool the risotto by spreading it evenly over a sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes. Once the risotto is cooled, form the mixture into burger-size patties, about 1-inch thick. Set up a dredging station with the flour in one dish, beaten eggs in another and panko breadcrumbs in another. Dip the rice patties into the flour, then into the eggs and finally coat them in the panko breadcrumbs. 

In a large skillet, heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil over medium heat until a pinch of panko sizzles when dropped in the oil. Working in batches of 2 to 3, fry the risotto cakes until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side (use a fish spatula under the cake and the back of a fork on top to help stabilize while flipping). Transfer to a wire rack, which will help them stay crispy. Season with salt and they are ready to serve. 



Cook's Note: This is a great way to use up leftover risotto.

Here are a few photos of the process that Barry used when making his risotto . . .
Chopped onions were sautéed in olive oil and then the risotto was added to lightly brown.
As onions and rice cook, Barry heats a pot of chicken broth.
After initially adding some white wine, Barry begins the process of adding hot broth to the rice, letting it absorb and then repeating until rice is tender. 

He added Kosher salt and white pepper to taste as the rice cooked.
To finish, Barry adds grated Parmesan and a pat of butter.