wild rice

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast

The holiday season is well under way and it really shows here in North Brooklyn.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Christmas tree stands every few blocks, a giant electric menorah on the corner of Bedford and North 7th, blinking lights lining apartment windows and fire escapes, subway passengers with arms loaded up with shopping bags, inescapable holiday music everywhere you go…
You know, the ushe.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Yesterday we stopped at one of those aforementioned Christmas tree stands and I carried our little 3 foot cutie home with one hand. After dinner we drank Dark and Stormys and listened to disco music (instead of the usual holiday tunes) while we gussied her up.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve usually got cookies and cakes and candies (and sugar plums et al) dancing in my head this time of year, but instead I’ve been very concerned about what to make for Christmas dinner lately.

(fret not dear friends, I promise the cookies and cakes are still in the works too!)

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

See, we’ve got big plans on Christmas day this year so I’m getting really excited about making a big fancy dinner.

Working in retail for the past several years has always meant that it’s just me and Russell and the pups for Christmas. These past few years have been totally fun, and really refreshingly casual and stress free, but they haven’t really been occasions to go all out when it comes to the holiday meal.

This year though, my mom and little sister found themselves with no plans for Christmas so they’re piling in the car and coming down to pay us a visit! Let the festivities begin!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Mom’s always bummed that she never gets to eat any of the treats I post here on the blog, so I’ve got big plans to make a few of my recent recipes for her while she’s here. I’m going to load her up with enough sugar and sweets and goodies that she won’t even want to look at another blog post for at least a year. Or, at least until the new year that is!

We can’t just live on Christmas cookies for three days though. I mean, we might still try anyway, but I thought I should at least attempt to think of an actual meal to serve on Christmas day.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Growing up my family usually served either ham or prime rib on Christmas, but Russell doesn’t really like either of those. Ham tends to be too salty for him, and we always have way too much leftover after dinner anyway. The last time I made a ham for Christmas we were eating ham sandwiches and split pea soup for a week! As for prime rib, I’d be in heaven but Russell doesn’t like meat that isn’t cooked completely through so that’s out too.
Womp womp.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

My initial thought was to make the pot roast I made a few months back, which would probably make everyone happy (very happy) but I’ve already made that so I couldn’t share it here and where’s the fun in that?
Oh what an exciting life I lead!

Instead I decided to make a pork loin roast. Not just any pork loin roast though, this puppy is butterflied, pounded flat, stuffed with magic, and rolled up jelly roll style before it’s roasted and sliced.

Rolling this back up and tying it with butcher’s twine can be a bit challenging but when you take your first bite you’ll know it was all worth it. The thinner you can pound out the meat the easier the rolling will be, but the pounding can be a time consuming (and noisy) job. The good news is that it’s also a great way to work out any pent-up frustrations after you do your holiday shopping!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

This roast is truly amazing and I can’t wait to serve it for mom on Christmas. The meat is rich and tender and moist, and the stuffing is flavorful and sweet and earthy all at once. You really can’t ask for a better stuffing for pork than bright jammy dried cherries, tons of fresh herbs, and chewy earthy wild rice. As if the roast wasn’t amazing enough on it’s own, you finish it all off with a pan gravy made from white wine and the liquid leftover from soaking the dried cherries. The result is a rich, bright, and slightly sweet and fruity gravy that is literally the cherry on the sundae!

Are you reading this mom? Is your mouth watering yet?
Can’t wait! Happy Holidays y’all!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Cherry and Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

1 (3 pound) pork loin roast
salt and pepper
3/4 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 to 3 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup cooked wild rice (from about 1/3 cup dry)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 dry white wine, divided
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock (low sodium if possible)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Trim large pieces of fat from pork roast. Butterfly the meat by making a lengthwise cut down the center, cutting to within 1/2 inch of the other side so that the meat can be spread open and laid flat. Cover the flattened roast with plastic wrap and, working from center to the edges, pound with flat side of a meat mallet (or small cast iron skillet) until meat is a uniform 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Remove plastic wrap and generously season meat with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside to rest while you make the stuffing. Refrigerate if you won’t be making stuffing right away.

Bring one cup of water to a boil in a small lidded saucepan. Add chopped cherries and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, place lid on pan, and let the cherries soak for 10 minutes.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove cherries from soaking liquid with a slotted spoon and add to onions and celery. Reserve liquid. Add cooked wild rice and herbs and stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and reduce until mostly absorbed. Cool stuffing completely before proceeding.

Spread stuffing over pork and roll up as tightly as possible. Seal the seams with toothpicks, leaving enough pick showing that they’ll be easy to remove after cooking. Tightly tie up the roast with cooking twine.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or oven safe roasting pan over medium high heat. Sear roast on all sides, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer, uncovered, to a 375F oven. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the roast reads at least 145F, about 80 to 90 minutes.

Remove roast from the pan and transfer to a cutting board tented with foil. Rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. If any stuffing or meat burned onto the pan, try to scrape it up with a wooden spoon but leave it in the pan. There should be at least a few tablespoons of oil and grease in the pan, if not, add a bit more olive oil. Add flour and stir into oil and grease and heat over medium for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly stir in remaining 1/4 cup of wine, 1/2 cup of reserved cherry soaking liquid, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and thicken for a 2 to 3 minutes. Strain any burned bits of stuffing or pork out of the gravy with a fine mesh sieve.

Remove toothpicks and twine from roast, and slice into 1 inch thick slices. Serve topped with gravy. If desired, serve over a bed of wilted ruby chard or braising greens.


Turkey Soup with Wild Rice and Dill

I’m not sure if I’ve told you guys this yet or not, but I really enjoy Thanksgiving. I do. Friends, family, food, and wine. It doesn’t get much better than that. For most people, Thanksgiving is probably the biggest meal they prepare for the entire year. Not only are we roasting a giant bird that takes up the whole oven for 5+ hours, but we’re also making multiple desserts, and multiple vegetables, multiple sides & multiple accompaniments to that bird. In my family, and now in my home, Thanksgiving takes days, not hours, to prepare.

turkey soup with wild rice and dill | Brooklyn Homemaker

The second best part of such a large meal that took so much time and effort to prepare is the left overs! (The first is obviously eating it the first time around with people you love) In my family, and I think in most people’s families, we tend to eat our meal early, have pie a few hours later, and then go back in a few hours after that for sandwiches made from leftover biscuits, cranberry sauce, turkey & dressing. Are you drooling yet?

Generally, there tends to still be some meat left on that giant bird even after the meal is done and a few sandwiches have been built and devoured. Once the biscuits and dressing have disappeared, if there’s still meat on those bones, it’s time to think of something else. You’re probably getting anxious to have your refrigerator back and need a recipe that uses up every last part of that giant animal in there.

turkey soup with wild rice and dill | Brooklyn Homemaker

Enter soup. Soup is the perfect way to make the best use of what’s left of your leftovers. A few days after Thanksgiving you probably only have a little bit of meat left, and it’s probably starting to dry out. Once I tore into those bones with clean hands and started pulling things apart, I realized that I had more meat left than I thought. Most of it was dark meat, but once it was all pulled off the carcass there were probably about 3 to 4 loose cups of bite sized chunks. That made for a very respectable soup.

turkey soup with wild rice and dill | Brooklyn Homemaker

You’re going to have to get very comfortable getting your hands dirty and tearing through some old bones, but you’ll be very glad you went to the trouble once your hands are clean and you have a super flavorful stock bubbling away on the stove. Since Turkeys are so much larger than chickens, there are a lot more bones. There are a lot of nutrients and tons of protein in those bones that is really really good for you if you take the time to extract them. A Slow cooked stock made from bones is packed with calcium, magnesium and other minerals, as well as dissolved cartilage and connective tissue materials like chondroitin and glucosamine which are great for your joints and can help with arthritis. Homemade stock is also full of natural gelatin, which is great for your hair, teeth, nails, skin, bones, joints and stomach lining. Studies also show that gelatin can aid in digestion, help your body release toxins, and even can help you sleep better.

turkey soup with wild rice and dill | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you’ve ever noticed that the juices your turkey release after being carved sometime congeal into a wobbly brown gel on your platter or carving board, that’s gelatin in action. There is so much gelatin in this turkey stock that the finished soup congealed once refrigerated. This recipe made too much soup for Russell and I to eat in one evening, so some of it went into some tupperware to be reheated the next evening. When I took the soup out it had turned into a jiggly turkey soup jell-o. I had to turn the tupperware over and shake it until the whole soup slid out and plopped into the pan like a can of gelled cranberry sauce. (Don’t worry, it turns back to liquid when heated)

This may sound unappealing to some, but believe me, this is a good thing. That amount of gelatin in your soup not only means that you’re soup is packed with health benefits, but also makes for a soup with amazing flavor and a beautiful consomme-like viscosity. If you’re not sure what I mean, it’s not thick like gravy, but just somehow feels like it coats your mouth and tongue more completely than watery chicken broth. If you still don’t get it, just try it. You can thank me later. I prefer white or yellow roses over red.

turkey soup with wild rice and dill | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, after I went to all the trouble to make this amazing healthy and hearty stock, I wanted a simple soup that highlighted rather than masked the richness of the turkey. I decided to go for a straightforward chicken soup style recipe, with onions, carrot, and celery. Perfect compliments to poultry. I decided that I wanted to add the chewiness of wild rice to the soup rather than noodles. Russell is obsessed with wild rice, and it holds up better than traditional rice or noodles if there are leftovers. Wild rice is also packed with protein and is really good for you, so another bonus! Last, I decided to add some dill to the soup to give it a nice bright fresh flavor. With a soup made from leftovers that bubbled and boiled on the stove for hours, it would be easy for it to taste heavy and tired, but the addition of dill brightens and lightens the whole thing up, giving it new life. You would never taste this and think it was made from leftovers.

Not only is this soup fresh, healthy, hearty and delicious all at once, but it also helped me rid myself of the last of the Thanksgiving meal. Now the fridge is clean and un-stuffed, and I can start thinking ahead to…
Christmas! In just a few short weeks there will be Christmas dinner, Christmas cookies, Christmas parties, and Christmas cocktails!

turkey soup with wild rice and dill | Brooklyn Homemaker

Turkey Soup with Wild Rice and Dill

1 picked over turkey carcass, with just a bit of meat left
2 large onions
6 stalks celery
5 carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup wild rice
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped dill

With clean hands, pull all remaining meat off of your turkey, being careful to avoid any skin or bones. Tear meat into bite sized chunks and store in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. Place all bones and skin from the turkey into an 8 quart stockpot, breaking up the carcass to fit as needed. Roughly chop one onion (skin on), 2 stalks of celery (leaves on) and 2 carrots; and add to stockpot along with enough water to cover the turkey. If desired, add herbs like sage or thyme. Cover your pot, and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the pot is at a low boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool for an hour or until you’re comfortable handling it.

Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the bones and set stock aside while you start your soup. Chop your remaining onion and celery into a medium dice, and slice your carrots into rounds. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in the bottom of a heavy bottomed stockpot, add your vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly, until onions and celery are soft and translucent, and any liquid has cooked off. Add your wine and cook down until dry. Add the wild rice and brown for just a minute or two, stirring constantly. Strain the stock into the stockpot, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often. Add pulled turkey meat and half your chopped dill, and simmer for 15-20 minutes more. Just before serving stir in remaining chopped dill, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.