In the fall, I find myself with a big stack of magazines...all about Thanksgiving and Christmas. (I’m keener on the Thanksgiving batch.) You may harbor the exact same addiction. Each issue sports a great big turkey or chocolate cake with white curls and candy canes on the front. I keep them from year to year so I can go through them just for fun. In fact, I buy magazines in November and December that I never buy the rest of the year. This may be changing a bit as lots of publications that appear to be magazines are actually small cookbooks for ten or twelve bucks lately. Wow.
For instance: I do not read SOUTHERN LIVING. Now I have nothing against it, except that I don’t live in the south and the food feels weighted to the way, way buttery caloric side, witness a preponderance of pork ribs, sweet potato pies, and pecan recipes. Ok, really; I could be wrong. I’m just saying how I feel. But at holiday time, SOUTHERN LIVING magically and happily appears on my coffee table, as does MIDWEST LIVING and GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, sitting right beside my more typical pile of Saveur, Fine Cooking, Food and Wine, and SUNSET–I do, after all, live in the west. This November’s issue of SOUTHERN LIVING, I’m bowled over by the “10 Must-Try Pies” button on the front cover, which leads me to Nancie McDermott’s beautiful, entertaining, and educational article, “Lost Pies of the South.” I’m a real Nancie McDermott fan, and this is readable, livable writing with drop dead gorgeous photographs by Victor Protasio. I am a pie-baking fool, you might know, and right now I’m actually considering a subscription.
With just enough southerner in my background to be all caught up in this kind of thing, I’ll admit that, for the record, I have yet to bake Peanut or Cushaw Pie. But I might. Thanksgiving’s coming. By the way, cushaw is a large winter squash, of which I have none–see below.
Order seed for your own cushaw squashes from rare seeds dot com. (Photo courtesy Rare Seeds.)
Another objective is for me to keep up with what’s new in various publications or for the holidays. I take notes, turn corners down, add stickies with notes, and sometimes make lists about what simply looks good. Otherwise these magazines can sort of come and go at my house with the exception of the true keepers. I find the new ones arrive and I haven’t even really read the old ones. If I’m intentional about it, I see things like a stellar recipe for Pork and Potato Curry in the November issue of FOOD AND WINE. I usually mark these and sometimes make a copy that goes in a folder marked, “To cook.” Not this time. I went to the store, bought ingredients and began to throw this together, albeit with a number of healthy and personal changes. A large pork shoulder turned into much leaner, less caloric and smaller pork loin; lite coconut milk took the place of regular. (Cut 280 calories and 16 grams of saturated fat per cup.) Out went white potatoes and in came sweet potatoes, while brown rice subbed for white. I dialed the heat way back for our milder palates, though I left a kick we could endure pleasurably. The integrity of the dish was kept, but the changes enabled us to eat more than one bowl with continual smiles on our faces. Bonus: compared to a typical 3 hours-on-the-stove-American-type stew, this was quick–especially if you use the noted short cuts like sliced boneless pork loin chops and microwavable or quick brown rice. During a week when I spent most of the time coordinating meals for homeless families for Inter-Faith Hospitality Network (part of Family Promise)–something I do 3 or 4 times a year, I appreciated the faster meal.
I hope the chef, Katianna Hong at The Charter Oak restaurant in St. Helena, California forgives us for changing this up, as we so enjoyed the new rendition and will watch for more from her. Try this:
PORK AND SWEET POTATO CURRY
To save time, I threw the shallots, jalapeño, garlic, and ginger in the food processor and chopped them there. My recipe calls to serve the curry with hot brown rice. As it takes 45 minutes to cook, you might want to begin with that.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander*
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin*
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric*
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
- 6 limes: Cut 2 into fourths to cook in the pot, use 2 to squeeze juice into the pot (3 tablespoons), and slice the last 2 into wedges for garnish
- 2 pounds pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 15-ounce can unsweetened lite coconut milk
- Fresh ground white pepper
- Cilantro, mint, basil and sliced scallions, for garnish *
- Brown rice, for serving
- In a 6-quart heavy pot, heat the oil over medium flame and cook the shallots, jalapeño, garlic, and ginger with a good pinch of salt for several minutes, stirring. Add the crushed red pepper and cook 30 seconds. Pour in wine and let simmer until reduced.
- Add stock, brown sugar, fish sauce, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and pieces of 2 limes. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat for ten minutes; add pork and cook until the pork and sweet potatoes are nearly tender, perhaps another 10 minutes.
- Pour in the lite coconut milk and 3 tablespoons lime juice into the curry and bring to a boil. Season with salt and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings one last time. Discard the lime pieces. Serve hot in warmed bowls garnished with cilantro, mint, basil, and sliced scallions. Serve each bowl with a small scoop of brown rice and wedges of lime.
We ate the leftovers the very next day, gently reheated over a low flame. Don’t cook too much as the sweet potatoes do soften overnight and with the second cooking.
Cook’s Note Time Savers: you could try the microwaveable brown rice, (above or similar) as well as the easier to cut up sliced pork loin chops instead of a pork loin roast.
*GROCERY BILL: The spices and especially the herbs can really add up at the store come fall when gardens are finished or spices cabinets aren’t full. I do have mint growing indoors and splurged on the rest. If you don’t want to add quite so much to your herb grocery bill, buy only the cilantro and the scallions as you must at least have those and they are the least expensive. The original recipe does call for Thai basil, which is very hard to find here in Colorado. Do use it if you can find it and want to buy it. As for the spices, I’m convinced it’s worth while to create your own curry profile here (Tumeric, Coriander, Cumin, Cinnamon), but if you simply can’t buy all of the spices, try at least 1 tablespoon or more of your choice of curry powder along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and perhaps a pinch of ground cayenne or a drop or two of hot sauce. Taste and add more as needed. Another option is to borrow everything from a neighbor or friend with a full spice cabinet.
Basil Chicken Fried Rice on more time –– old post that needs photos, but the food is good!
Sing a fall song and do some Thanksgiving shopping and cooking ahead this week.
Thanks for reading More Time at the Table!