Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving Cooking

Earlier this fall my mom sent me a great Thanksgiving cookbook. She had looked through Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers at one of her friend's houses, and decided my sister and I each needed a copy to inspire us this Thanksgiving. I was very impressed with this cookbook, and couldn't wait to try it out! The recipes were approachable yet gourmet enough for my tastes, and the author had really detailed notes and explanations to go along with the recipes.

I was disappointed when I realized I wouldn't be able to use this cookbook on Thanksgiving day, since we'll be spending 8 hours in the car before sitting down to our turkey dinner. I think cookies are the only travel friendly thing I'll be able to contribute, but that doesn't mean I can't test out some Thanksgiving inspired recipes some other time. I tend to have time and inspiration on Sunday afternoons, and last Sunday that inspiration turned into this menu.

The Butternut Squash and Rice Tian was from Thanksgiving 101, and it stood out as a recipe that didn't have to be saved for Thanksgiving day. I'm also addicted to butternut squash, so I was excited to find a new way to cook it. I made a pork tenderloin stuffed with provolone cheese, prosciutto, and sage, which was primarily inspired by the fresh sage that was left over from a previous dinner. I'd never made a stuffed pork tenderloin before, but now I can see numerous variations on this idea. I rounded out the meal with some biscuits from last month's Bon Appetit, which turned out so flat and horrible that I refuse to show them here. Seriously, I thought biscuits would be an easy thing to make!?! But two thirds of this dinner turned out fantastic, so I'll share the successes with you.

Butternut Squash and Rice Tian
from Rick Rodger's Thanksgiving 101

Serves: 8 to 10 (or half it like I did, and it fits perfectly in a 9 x9 square baking dish)

3 lbs butternut squash
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese
4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, or 2 teaspoons dried sage
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, preferable from day-old crusty bread
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Peel the squash, core the inside, and cut into about 1/2 inch cubes. They might be irregular shapes, but try to keep the size consistent.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat and add the squash. Cook until barely tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion is golder, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cool the vegetables until tepid, about 10 minutes.

Bring another pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and cook until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 10 x 15 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the rice, squash, sauteed vegetables, Gruyere, sage, salt and pepper. Spread in the prepared dish. Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan, and sprinkle over the top. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil.

Bake until the center feels set when pressed lightly, about 45 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Sage and Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin
salt and pepper
4 slices provolone cheese
6 slices prosciutto
15 sage leaves

Cut the tenderloin lengthwise from top to bottom, cutting about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Open up the tenderloin and cut each side lengthwise, so the tenderloin is able to spread out. Click here is a great example of what I mean. Cover with plastic wrap and pound flat.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Lay the slices of cheese over the meat, cover with the slices of prosciutto, and place the sage leaves on top. Roll the pork up jelly-roll style, securing with about four pieces of cooking string along the length of the pork.

Place in a baking dish and bake uncovered for about 25 to 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Let the pork rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.


Proud Italian Cook said...

Erin, Can I just tell you how good that looks! Yumm!

Darius T. Williams said...

I'm with Marie - looks absolutely delicious. I still have a pork loin chillin in my freezer that I need to do something with...


A World in a PAN said...

I was sure that I was going to find delicious recipes for THanksgiving in your blog! Happy THanksgiving and bon appetit!

Sarah said...

I love stuffing pork with're right: the posibilities are endless! Although yours looks pretty darn perfect.