Thursday, December 08, 2005

Kumquat Glazed Pork w/ Artichokes

One great benefit of the fall is the bounty served up. By no means comparable to summer, but I must admit that some of my favorite fruits are in season this time of year: pomegranates and assorted oranges (oh Clementine!) to name two. Mother Nature outsmarts the best of us when she decides to make citrus, pumped up the vitamin C, in season as cold and flu weather hits full force. To make that which is available so sweet, juicy and appealing makes this frigid weather worth leaving the home for (if only to go to the grocer to get some).

Those at work joke about my clementine pyramid stacked high on my desk, quickly eaten through and replenished. But have I been sick yet this year? Nay. Do I have scurvy? Nay. And I owe it all to a very sweet addiction: citrus.

On a recent visit to one of my previously mentioned 24-hour fruit/ veggie stands, kumquats stared me down. Originally from China, this mini-orange, translated as gold orange from the Chinese, is the best of treats. In my younger days, I could not get enough Sour Patch Kids, the tart, sweet, succulent gummy candy. Kumquats are the adult version. Pucker your lips and be brought back to those sticky movie theater floor days when you easily went through an oversized bag of candy before the trailers ended.

Though this gold orange looks a lot like an orange, the kumquat was removed from the genus Citrus around 1915 and moved into Fortunella. The fruit began cultivation in Europe and the U.S. in the mid-19th century. The kumquat is high in fiber and vitamins A and C. Replace your grandmother’s prunes with this tart treat. The skin is thin, mildly tart, but sweet enough to eat. The seeds are unnoticeable, and the overall affect is, as stated, the best of treats. Just wash, pop and chew. When cooked up, the fruit loses the sweet-sour tinge transforming into pure sweetness. This fruit is great as chutney, preserves, raw in salads, as a garnish (in a martini even), ornamental, or, in my case, as a sweet glaze for some roasted pork.

Serves 4-6. Prep time= 20 min. Cook time depends on the size of the pork (as does serving size)
½ cup kumquats
1 clementine, juice only (or ¼ cup orange juice)
2 shallots, whites only, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ cup dry white wine
1 artichoke per person
4 lb boneless pork center cut (a pork shoulder works cell too)

The Glaze
1) Combine kumquats and orange juice, purée to a medium pulp
2) (Preheat oven to 350F in prep for the pork.) In a saucepan, on medium heat, melt 1 Tbl butter. Add shallots, sauté for 5 min.
3) Reduce heat, add bay leaf and kumquat mixture, bring to a boil. Add wine and return to a boil. Reduce glaze until desired thickness is reached (5-10 min).

Preparation of the Pork
1) Preheat oven (as noted above) to 350F. Use half the kumquat glaze and cover both sides of the pork. Insert meat thermometer. Place on non-reactive baking dish. And put on the middle rack in the over. Pork should cook 15-20 min per lb, until it reaches 170F.
2) After 1 hour, check on pork and cover with remaining glaze.

1) When pork reaches about 140F, boil water in a saucepot. Clean the artichoke under water and pluck any darkened outter leafs off. Cut off the stem so about 1 inch remains. Add artichokes and cook about 45 min until stem is soft. Artichokes are in season now. They are so meaty and perfect this time of year there is no need for butter or a goat cheese sauce (which, actually, makes a fabulous dipper and really impresses a party).

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