Winter Blahs and Old Standbys

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin wrapped in bacon brightens up a dull late winter day!  Oh and Pimento Cheese for a touch of the South.

We’re in the weeds, folks!  This is it!  The novelty of the spectacular scenery has worn right off.  The boots present a never-ending battle with salt stains. Conversations at parties center around innovations in footwear spikes, and what’s new on Netflix. All cars look alike – grey and furry inside and out, and wearing the automotive version of ugly snow boots. The dog has long since lost any interest in chasing a ball around the living room.  The neighbours are away, their houses bearing only the tell-tale twinkle of lights on timers. The chirpy enthusiasm of those of us remaining behind is increasingly strained. Indeed, the skiing is grand and the snowmobilers never lose their gusto. But just getting around is a tedious chore. The hats, the boots, the scarves, the puffy coat, and where is that other glove? Somehow the spirited efforts to create tasty treats popular in warmer climes, intended to give us the impression that we can have it all, by now only serves to emphasize that we, actually, cannot.  Somehow the missing spices in the jambalaya, and the pimento cheese are the heat of the sun and the sound of the surf. 

Ok. Perhaps I was wrong about the Pimento Cheese. Or, if not, worth another try. 

Pimento Cheese with thanks to

2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper,) 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (or just dried pepper flakes) 1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimento, drained.   Salt and black pepper to taste.

Place the Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, minced jalapeño, and pimento into the large bowl of a mixer. Beat at medium speed, with paddle if possible, until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Though billed as a spread our a dip, it does make a spectacular grilled cheese sandwich!  

But one terrific, calorific exception cannot pull us, single-handedly, out of the mid-winter blues. It’s time to get tough, because, as we know, when the mid-winter slog gets tough, the tough get going. It’s time to reach back into our archives. 

You have a trusty old recipe that, time and again, stepped up to the dinner plate, and always hit it out of the park, but then, for whatever reason, was benched. Maybe something new and dazzly came along.  Maybe you tired of depending on it so often.  And so, relegated to the back of the recipe box, it waited patiently for just such a moment as this to be called up.

This recipe for me is:

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. 

1 pork tenderloin – butterflied. Really not a trick. Google it.  I then give it a firm roll with my heaviest rolling pin (though a full bottle of wine would do the trick nicely) to flatten it out a bit. 

1 pound of bacon – the 50% salt one works especially well for this. 

Mix together:

3 cups flavored stuffing mix (or three slices of bread torn into bits and mixed with poultry seasoning to taste)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

Some mushrooms chopped, if you like them

¼ cup butter, melted

Wrap pork around the stuffing and secure with toothpicks. It will tend to be a mess, spilling out and looking rather like a botched surgery. Don’t worry about it. 

Lay out the bacon strips, side by each.

Plop the stuffed tenderloin onto the bacon and wrap the bacon around the pork parcel. Secure with more toothpicks. It will look quite well organized by now. 

Tuck it into a meatloaf pan. Pour a mixture of half red wine (or Apple juice or beer) and half beef broth over the pork. Just enough to almost cover. 

Bake at 350 for an hour.

Let it rest for 20 minutes or so to firm up so slicing is easier. The pan juices are lovely to spoon over top when serving. Serve with a nice vegetable or two. Carrots and baked Apple slices perhaps. You already have the stuffing, so you don’t need another starch. Serves six, or eight if they’re seniors. 

Easy.  Pretty enough for a dinner party of intrepid over wintering friends and neighbours. Goes well with the landscape. Doesn’t try to be what it’s not by eliciting palm trees waving in warm breeze.  And yet, inspires hopeful talk of gardening plans and dusting off lawn chairs. And just like that,  we’re out of the weeds!