We are always searching for traditions in our holiday celebrations. Tradition creates a comfort zone that we can fit into and it seems to give meaning to our existence. Thus, when we cook we honor our backgrounds with Italian, French, Polish, German, Scandinavian, Hispanic and many other geographical, ethnic and religious traditions. Here on the North Fork people from many diverse backgrounds can enjoy a tradition of plentiful food that dates back to the Native Americans and the pilgrims.
The following menu celebrates local food and wine that is readily available this time of year. The recipes are designed to serve a party of 6 to 8 people.
FIRST COURSE: Oysters Rockefeller Clams Casino Seared Scallops ‘Rockefeller’ Greens
Wine: One Woman Gruner Veltliner 2011
ENTRÉE: Pork Roast with Hard Cider Sauce Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Cipolini Onions and Carrots String Beans
Wine: Bedell Cellars Merlot, 1993 Magnum
DESSERT: Baked Mutsu Apples with Maple Rum Sauce
SHELLFISH ROCKEFELLER STYLE
Start with 16 oysters, 16 clams and 1 pound of fresh sea scallops. Shuck the oysters and the clams and place them on a foil-lined sheet pan and refrigerate.
Fill a sink with cold water. Trim the root ends off 1 head of kale, 1 bunch of Swiss chard and 1 bag of field spinach. Plunge the greens in the water and rinse thoroughly before draining. Trim the stems from the leaves with a sharp paring knife and discard the stems. Combine the leaves from all three greens in a large bowl. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a pasta pot and add the greens. Bring the water back to a boil and drain blanched greens in a colander. Rinse under cold water until the greens are fully cooled. Squeeze most of the water out of them and set aside.
Place a large sauté pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Add to this 1 bunch of chopped scallions, 1/4 cup chopped shallots and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Stir in 4 minced anchovies. Place the blanched greens on a cutting board and chop through them coarsely with a chef’s knife. Squeeze any remaining liquid out of them and add the greens to the sauté pan. Season with 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, 2 teaspoons coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir in 2 tablespoons Pernod liqueur and 1/2 cup panko crumbs. Cook this mixture for 5 minutes at low heat, remove and transfer to a casserole and keep warm.
Heat a small sauté pan and add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add to this about 2 ounces of pancetta, cook until almost crisp and remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Add to the drippings in the pan 1/2 cup each of finely minced red and green pepper along with 1/4 cup minced shallots, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Sauté until vegetables are soft and stir in 1/4 cup white wine, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Chop the cooked pancetta and stir it in before transferring the mixture to a small bowl.
Just before service time, place a tablespoon of the greens mixture on each oyster and a tablespoon of the pepper mixture on each clam. Put the clams and oysters in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes until bubbling hot.
Put a large sauté pan on high heat and add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the sea scallops and sear until golden. Pull the pan off the heat and add 1 teaspoon Rose’s lime juice and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice.
To serve, place a spoon of the greens mixture in the center of each plate and put the seared scallops on top. Place the cooked oysters and clams around the side and garnish with a lemon wedge.
CIDER BRINED PORK LOIN
Have your butcher prepare the pork loin. Ask for center cut, bone in, with five rib bones. Have him cut the chine (spine) bone off and crack the backbone to make for easy carving. You can finish the trimming yourself by removing the fat between the ribs so as to expose the rib bones. Trim all other fat and meat so only the eye is left attached to the ribs.
For the brine, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup kosher salt, 3 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, 10 black peppercorns and 2 cups water. Bring this to a boil and simmer until the sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes. Pour 2 cups apple cider into the pot along with 2 cups of ice cubes. Stir until the mixture is cool and pour over the trimmed pork roast. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove the roast from the liquid and discard the brine. Dry off the meat with paper towels and make a cut along the bones lengthwise, almost removing the bones from the eye of the meat. Into this cut place 6 fresh sage leaves, a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves and a tablespoon of fennel seeds. Using butcher’s twine, tie the roast neatly between the ribs to hold it all together.
Heat a large sauté pan and add 1 tablespoon canola oil. When oil is shimmering hot, place the pork roast fat side down in the pan. Let it brown for about 5 minutes, watching the heat to prevent burning. Remove the roast and place it in a shallow roasting pan, reserving the sauté pan.
Put the roast in a 275-degree oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove and let sit 20 minutes before carving. The combination of brining and low-temperature cooking will produce a very tender, juicy roast.
HARD CIDER SAUCE FOR PORK
Heat the reserved sauté pan with pork drippings from above and add 1 tablespoon butter. Add to this 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped stalk of celery and 1 chopped carrot. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes and add 1/2 cup flour to make a roux. Stir the flour into the fat until it begins to brown. Add 2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup hard cider. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes and strain. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
ROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOES
Purchase 8 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, with thin skins if possible. Rinse them but do not peel. With a sharp paring knife, cut a small slice off the bottom of each potato so that it will lay flat. Then make cuts every 1/4 inch the length of the potato but not through the bottom.
Add to a large bowl 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the potatoes and toss to coat, trying to work the seasonings into the cuts along the length of the potato. Put the potatoes on a foil-lined sheet pan and set aside.
CIPOLLINI ONIONS AND CARROTS
Peel 8 onions and 4 large carrots. Cut the carrots into 2-inch pieces by splitting them and then cutting on the bias to make oblong pieces. Toss the onions and carrots in the same olive oil mixture from above, adding more oil and seasoning if necessary. Place them on the pan with the potatoes and roast at 400 degrees until fully cooked, about 40 minutes.
Trim the ends off of 1 pound of string beans and rinse. Place them in a steamer pan and cook until just done. Toss them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon butter and salt and pepper to taste.
BAKED MUTSU APPLES
Peel 9 large Mutsu apples and dip them in a mixture of 1 cup cold water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. For 8 of the apples, cut the stem end off about 3/4 inch down from the top and reserve. Using a paring knife and teaspoon, core out the apples without going through the bottom. Dip them again in the water/lemon mixture and set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan. Dice the last apple and add it to the pan along with 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook briefly and fill the apples with this mixture, put the tops back on and place them in a shallow casserole. Pour 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, 1/4 cup dark rum and 1/4 cup apple cider into the casserole and cook in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes.
John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years.