|Mighty good dinner|
Every week, I buy the foods that are cheap, either with coupons or sales or both. I fill in the rest (milk, produce, etc.) at Aldi's. Then I look in my cupboards and freezers and plan what to do with all of it. My primary reason is obviously to save money, but there are other advantages, namely variety.
Typically, different foods go one sale from week to week. If ground beef is on sale this week, it probably won't be next week. Therefore, switching up our menu repertoire is automatic.
I had a few pork fillets in my freezer from a good sale a little while ago. Normally, I would just season, or maybe marinade and bake. Easy and good. But I happen to have a copy of one of Julia Child's cookbooks right now, borrowed from the library. Reading all these fancy gourmet recipes left me longing for a little more flare in tonight's dinner.Though not following the recipe at all, I stole ideas from the beef wellington mentioned in The Art of Mastering French Cooking, Volume 2,
I had two short pork fillets, which I slit open longways and pounded thin so I could stuff. I do this often with chicken breast. Using wax paper to prevent guts from splattering all over my kitchen, I whack the fillet to a uniform thickness. I seasoned it with McCormick Montreal steak seasoning, which is a peppery spicy flavor. Salt, Pepper, Dried red pepper flakes... you get the idea. Then I plopped about 1/3 cup of stuffing:
Stuffing (I really don't measure but I'll estimate as best as I can):
1/4 c. each chopped onion, bell pepper, carrot
salt and pepper
1/3 c. parm cheese
1/3 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 c. broth (I used beef.... is it against the law to use beef broth in a pork dish?)
In a skillet, I melted about a Tbs. butter, and added about a Tbs. of olive oil. Over med. heat, saute the veggies a few minutes, then add bread crumbs and broth. This create a mushy stuffing. After cooking bread crumbs and broth a few minutes, your veggies are pretty tender. Add cheese, stir and turn off heat. Let cool to handling temp. while you get violent on your meat.
Roll the pork around the stuffing and secure either with kitchen string (easiest) or toothpicks. Keep track of how many toothpicks you use so you don't kill someone!
Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season the tops. I used paprika, 'cause I like it. You use what seasonings you like.
I had done the previous steps in the morning so I put my fillets in a baking dish, covered and refrigerated. At least an hour before dinner time, put it in a 375 oven for 35-40 minutes. (I let mine sit at room temp. for a little while before cooking.)
At least 2 and a half hours before dinner time, make a simple pastry dough. You need the extra time so the dough can rest in the fridge for a good hour or two before being rolled out.
Julia Child's Pastry Dough:
3 1/2 c. flour
2 sticks chilled butter, unsalted
6 Tbs. chilled shortening
1 egg plus ice water to equal 1 c.
2. tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
Cut butter into 1/4 in. pieces. Mix butter and shortening into flour on moderate speed until it looks like course meal. Take care that the butter doesn't get warm. If the kitchen is warm or it starts to melt at all, refrigerate for a while and resume later. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix into flour mixture only until incorporated. As soon as dough clogs blades, remove onto wax paper. Form a dome, wrap tightly and refrigerate for 2 hrs or more. May be frozen at this point as well.
After the stuffed pork is cooked (you don't want to wrap it until it is already safe to eat) and the kitchen string or toothpicks have been removed, remove pastry from fridge and roll half of it to cover the fillets. The other half will make a great pie shell later in the week. =) The half I used for tonight was rolled into a big oval, cut down the middle and one half was used for each fillet. My fillets had been cooked and sitting on the counter for about 10 minutes so they were warm but I could handle them without burning my fingers. Wrap the pork fillet in pastry, brush with egg wash and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes, until pastry is golden brown.
I doubt any one will closely follow this non-recipe recipe, but maybe it will give you an idea of your own. Look at what you've got on hand and think of a new way to put it together. I'm pretty sure everything tastes wonderful and looks divine when wrapped in pastry.
And, since I referenced good ol' Julia Child, I am suddenly and unexpectedly, a devoted fan. I never saw her shows and was never interested in her books but after cracking it open, I'm hooked. I actually have no desire to learn French cuisine, but Mastering the Art of French Cooking is so much more than a collection of French recipes. It's a book teaching techniques and methods of cooking. The objective was that a regular American house wife would be able to confidently prepare anything, with the knowledge to swap out ingredients to suit her tastes and resources. So despite the fact that truffles will not be found in my kitchen and tripe will never be a dish I serve (or eat... ever) I'm really learning a lot reading through the book. Volume 1 was checked out of the library so I settled for Volume 2.... I'm eager to get my hands on the first! I do need to put butter on my shopping list first....