Last Saturday, we had my husband's brother, Brian, and his girlfriend, Lauren, over for dinner and card-playing. The game is Euchre (spelled "Youker" in a previous post, much to the dismay of my Mid-West friends), and the menu was pork loin and blue cheese potatoes. Usually, when our little card games occur on weekend nights, they last too long, too much wine is consumed, and someone usually ends up in a disagreement about who won the last hand, whether someone played a spade or a club just now, and where on earth is the missing Jack? I guess that's what happens when 4 highly competitive people show up to play cards. There's not even money at stake...just pride. And usually man-pride, no less. Often these games are men against ladies. And I think we all know who wins the most often.
Euchre is a lot like Spades, which is my favorite card game of all time. In high school, we used to play at lunch, but there were only a few "spades" tables available in the cool section of the cafeteria (you know every high school cafeteria has a cool section!!), so seats at the tables were a hot commodity. I remember SPRINTING out of Science class (which was in a trailer so it was a long run, totally no fair) to get to the cafeteria in time to secure a coveted spot in a Spades game. This was back in the day when I was an athlete and I was willing to run for reasons other than being chased. If I were in high school NOW and wanted to get a seat at the Spades table, I'd just leave Science class early. I was so dumb back then...I'm glad I've gotten more clever and resourceful in my old age.
Anywho, my husband's brother's girlfriend, Lauren, is a great cook. And also, that whole "husband's brother's girlfriend" thing is too long, and she's also just my friend, so I'm gonna call her that. My friend Lauren is a great cook, and she makes a mean pork loin with gravy. So she was in charge of the main dish and I did the sides. The boys were in charge of drinking beer and watching. And offering very "helpful" suggestions.
The dinner came out great and it provided a nice padding in the belly for the wine and cards. We had a nice, civil game, everyone kept their competitve-ness in check, and we were all home and in bed by midnight. What a responsible group of folks!
Roast Pork Loin
Source: My friend Lauren!
3-4 sprigs rosemary
7-8 sprigs thyme
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp butter
Pork loin (ours was probably about 2-3 lbs)
Salt and Pepper
Put the herbs and garlic into a food processor and chop. Then add 1-2 tbsp of softened butter to the herbs and blend.
Generously salt and pepper the roast on all sides. Please it on a foiled covered baking sheet (or you can put it on a rack in a roasting pan) fat side up and spread herb and garlic butter evenly on the top of the loin.
Roast in a 400 degree oven for ~10 minutes and then turn the heat down to 375and roast for another 20-30 minutes or until the center is at 140 deg F. Do not go over 140 in cooking or else the pork will become dry. Let the pork rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
A few notes: The amount of herbs, garlic, and butter can fluctuate depending on how large the roast it and how much of a rub you want. You can also use sage instead of rosemary if you prefer it. If using sage I usually take a good chunk of fresh sage and just rip the bottom stems off.
The gravy can be made before or after the pork is out of the oven. If done before just add the drippings to the gravy after the pork is done and heat.
Take 3 tbsp butter and melt in a medium sauce pan, then add 3 tbsps of flour and make a roux. Cook the roux enough to get the flour cooked through but do not cook it until it is brown. Add about 1 cup chicken broth or stock and whisk in to the the roux, once gravy begins to thicken, add another 1-2 cups of broth a half a cup at a time. The amount of chicken broth added depends on what consistency you prefer in the gravy. Once the gravy is to your desired thickness add leaves from a couple sprigs of thyme and the drippings. After the drippings have been added add salt and pepper to taste (this amount will vary depending on your dripping) and a pinch of garlic powder.
Remember - every good gravy is finished off with a tbsp of butter!!!
Blue Cheese and Chive Smashed Potatoes
Source: Inspired by Rachael Ray
1 pound small red potatoes
1/2 cup skim milk
4 oz low fat cream cheese
3/4 container (the small container) blue cheese crumbles
salt and pepper to taste
small bunch chives, snipped
Boil potatoes (cut them in half before adding to water for faster cooking) in salted water until fork tender. Drain, and return to hot pan. Add skim milk, adjusting as needed. Add cream cheese, blue cheese, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Mash with potato masher, leaving chunks if desired. Add snipped chives and stir. Serve immediately.