Monday, December 26, 2016

25 December 2016 – Christmas

Since Christmas day fell on a Sunday this year, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to prepare a special Sunday Supper to celebrate with some dear friends. I finally got around to cooking a crown pork roast, something I have wanted to try for a while. I contacted Suzy Wright at Mountain Valley Farm in Ellijay, and she had her butcher prepare the special cut from one of her heritage pigs. We also bought a grass fed prime rib roast from her, and I cooked it for Jeff's family gathering on Christmas Eve. It was delicious, as usual. Mountain Valley's grass fed beef and heritage pork products are the highest quality in the area, and I am delighted that Suzy is now offering a monthly delivery service to Canton and Woodstock. Just call her up to place the order, and she will deliver to Etowah Park.

I made a pork and onion stuffing to cook inside the crown roast and as a side. It was really delicious, and I will be making it again. It almost rivaled my mother's cornbread dressing, but the stuffing is easier to prepare and can be made for a weeknight meal. In addition to the stuffing, I also cooked some carrots with thyme and oregano, roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic and Rubichon's butter mashed potatoes. Rubichon's recipe calls for six sticks of butter in four pounds of potatoes, but I only used two sticks. I may have to try the six sticks one day, but I didn't have the time or the courage today. You add the cold butter in small cubes, one at a time, so it takes a while, even for two sticks! Jeff baked some amazing Parker House rolls from scratch to go with dinner, and we have leftovers for pork sandwiches. For dessert, I baked my second red velvet cake in one weekend. I also made one to take to Jeff's family on Saturday. I follow Sylvia of Harlem's basic recipe, but I always make one and a half the amount of icing so there's enough to put a decent amount between the layers and properly ice the sides.

I did not get dinner on the table until eight o'clock, but we stuffed ourselves thoroughly. Dinner was filled with great conversation, Christmas memories and lots of laughter – the greatest gift of all. I had my family down last weekend, and it was wonderful having small children in the house. My nieces and nephews are adorable, and it is always a treat spending time with them. We all went to dinner at Chon Ngern Thai restaurant on Saturday night, and everyone really enjoyed it. The restaurant treated us very well and even carved some beautiful melon centerpieces for our table. I love this restaurant and the people who work there, and I am so happy we have them in Canton.

Speaking of Canton, I always feel blessed living here but never as much as during the holidays. This year was no exception. From a holiday concert by the Hasty Singers at the Canton Theatre to Caroling with a Cop at Starbucks, there were so many special moments this season. In addition to the Christmas carols, there were many other gatherings, treats and awesome examples of people helping the less fortunate in our community. I know Christmas and the holidays are challenging to many for a number of reasons, but the spirit of giving and goodwill has never been stronger in our community.

I hope your holidays were filled with good food, loving family, caring friends and special memories. I, for one, am looking forward to the new year. Until then, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.

The Menu:

- Crown Heritage Pork Roast

- Sausage and Onion Bread Stuffing

- Buttery Mashed Potatoes

- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Garlic

- Roasted Carrots with Thyme and Oregano

- Spice Roasted Pecans

- Parker House Rolls

- Red Velvet Cake

The Recipe – Sausage and Onion Bread Stuffing

5 cups onions, finely chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb day old country bread cut into half inch cubes
1 lb Italian sausage
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 cups finely chopped celery


Preheat oven to 350.

Cook onions with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in 3/4 stick butter over moderate heat until onions are pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Add garlic, sage, thyme, and pepper and cook, stirring, 5 minutes.

Add vinegar and wine and bring to a slight boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated, then remove from heat and reserve in a large bowl.

Cook sausage in the same skillet just until no longer pink, breaking it up as you cook. Add the sausage to the bowl with onion mixture.

Cook bread cubes and a teaspoon of salt in remaining 3/4 stick butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add breads cubes, celery and chicken stock to the onion mixture and sausage. Toss to combine thoroughly, then pour stuffing mixture into a buttered casserole dish.

Cover the stuffing with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and increase the oven to 400 degrees to crisp and brown the top of the stuffing, around 10 minutes.
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