Veggies and pork loin

May 8, 2016

Ahhhhhh, yes. Farmers' market season has begun. Hallelujah!

Ahhhhhh, yes. Farmers’ market season has begun. Hallelujah!

Besides Mothers’ Day and stunningly gorgeous weather, this past weekend was noteworthy for being the first Farmers’ Market of the season.

It brought both delight and complete disappointment.

I was thrilled to see that there was an exceptionally large variety of produce available for this early in the season. I got tomatoes, both ripe and green; zucchini; cucumbers; green beans (I have NEVER seen green beans this early in the season; the Amish couple started seedlings indoors, and then planted them in a hoop house for an early start); the best radishes I think I ever ate; and snow peas.

I was crushed to find no asparagus. (What you see in the photo is from the grocery, because, by God, I was going to HAVE asparagus, no matter if the grocery store stuff is a pale imitation of the fresh local thing.) In fact, my Whitton Farm vendor wasn’t even at the market. Memphis Guinea Pig, who goes to the Memphis market, said they were there (generally, she goes to Memphis and he comes to J’boro), but had no asparagus there, either.

I would have been hacked if he got asparagus and I did not, I can tell you.

Part of this bounty has already gone into spring pickles, which I mentioned yesterday. To reiterate, slice up all kinds of fresh veggies; I used the cucumbers and radishes, along with some carrots and cauliflower I already had. Make a brine of a cup of cider vinegar, a half cup of water, three-quarters of a cup of sugar or Stevia (I used Stevia, which has the added benefit of dissolving much easier, thus not requiring you to heat it), a quarter teaspoon of white pepper, a quarter teaspoon of dry mustard, a half-teaspoon of celery seed. Pour that over the veggies (I had a quart-plus size Gladware container, the one labeled “large deep-dish” or some such, and it was overfilled) and stash them in the fridge.

I usually parboil the carrots about two or three minutes. You don’t want them soft, but you do want them tenderized just a bit. Everything else goes raw.

No reason you couldn’t throw snow peas, or sugar snaps, or even green beans into this. Or asparagus, for that matter.

I had a big serving of this as part of my Mothers’ Day dinner today, which I cooked. I’ve fallen into the habit of cooking a big dinner every Sunday for the kids, and I just went ahead and did it today, too. I suspect, had I announced I wanted to be taken out to eat, they would have cheerfully complied, but it would have jacked with AGC2’s nap sked, and there were probably a million people taking Mom out to eat today. Besides, my dinner was better.

Unfortunately, I have no photos of it, because? I was hungry, and tucked into it. But I am here to tell you, I cooked perhaps the best pork loin I have ever cooked.

I’d bought two half-loins (about 4 pounds each) at the grocery when I caught ’em on sale the other day, and stuck them in the freezer. Wednesday, I got one out and let it thaw most of the day, and rubbed it down heavily with Spade L Ranch pork seasoning. Sealed it up in a vacuum bag and put it in the pot to sous vide at 150 degrees.

Now, chefs and foodies will tell you that is too high a temp for pork; that pork loin should be cooked to just past medium rare, or perhaps 145, maximum, with a definite tint of pink in the middle. I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. I guess it’s all those years of thinking pork had to be cooked to the point of incineration, else we’d all get trichinosis and die. I love a rare steak, but I want my pork DONE, do you hear me? So I SV’d it at 150 for 36-plus hours, because, well, I kinda forgot it Thursday night and left it until on up in the day Friday, when I took it out and put it in the fridge.

Today when I got home from church, I fired up the gas grill, put some hickory chips in the smoker box, and put it on to smoke for about 45 minutes. We were significantly hungry enough I didn’t let it rest as long as I might have, so there was no slicing it — it just pulled.

And folks, I am here to tell you that’s the best pork loin I’ve ever cooked. Just a little smoky. The seasoning had permeated the meat during the long cook, which also left it moist. There was just enough of a fat cap on one side to flavor it up nicely.

Have mercy. It was Sweet Baby Jesus good, and there is a bunch of it left, though we did for well more than half of it. I went ahead and pulled the rest, and tomorrow I’ll make some of that West Tennessee thin, vinegar-based barbecue sauce to drizzle over it and reheat. I have jail slaw in the fridge, as well as leftover potato salad, spring pickles, and slicing tomatoes, and it will make a fine dinner.

I fried green tomatoes for good measure today as well, and tried something new. I breaded more than I knew I’d fry, because I always wind up cooking enough for dinner and letting the rest of the basket ripen on the counter. This time, I sliced and breaded them all, and froze what I didn’t fry on a cookie sheet. I’ll go out there in the morning and transfer them to a plastic baggie, and I’ll try frying them in a few days. No clue how they’ll taste, but it’s worth a try.

I sliced one of the smaller ripe tomatoes. True to early season, ripened-on-the-vine Amish greenhouse tomato form, it made my eyes roll back in my head.

All in all, it was a most excellent Mothers’ Day. I hope you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em had an excellent one, and got to enjoy some good spring veggies.




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