Friday, November 19, 2010

Tennessee "Oriental" Meatballs...and a Romantic Getaway to the Inn at Evins Mill

Carmac Falls, Smithville, TN
The Inn at Evins Mills
Several years ago my husband and I decided we needed a romantic little getaway. We only had the weekend, didn't want travel too far away from home, but didn't want to sacrifice the opportunity for a lovely setting, great food and wonderful hospitality at a tranquil bed and breakfast. We were living in Middle Tennessee at the time and we started our internet search for the perfect place...and we found it! The Inn at Evins Mill is a unique and picturesque bed and breakfast located in Smithville, Tennessee. It is nestled in the bluffs near Center Hill Lake, with rooms providing breathtaking views. It even has its own waterfall, Carmac Falls! My husband and I hiked the trails in October years ago to the base of the waterfall to take in its beauty. We made so many wonderful memories here! Fine dining is offered by the executive chefs at the Inn at Evins Mill. Activities at the inn include darts, billiards, golfing, fishing, boating and much more, so there is something for everyone, indoors and out! Or, just take it all in and REST! The proprietor, William Cochran, is cordial and welcoming and, along with his wonderful staff, makes sure your stay is a memorable will be planning your next trip back before you leave! How romantic is the Inn at Evins Mill? William met his wife, Eden, at this very inn, so how's that for a testimony to the "romantic factor" of this incredible getaway destination? I took some of the most beautiful pictures of the hiking trails, scenery and waterfall and I have those in frames. My husband and I call it "our" waterfall and we are reminded of our fantastic weekend every time we look at those pictures. To view the website for the Inn at Evins Mill and plan your getaway or special occasion, just click on THIS LINK!

Tennessee "Oriental" Meatballs
Recipe Courtesy of Chef Jason Evans and William Cochran, Proprietor of the Inn at Evins Mill

2 pounds ground beef, 80/20 ratio (The Inn at Evins Mill uses
Gourmet Pasture Beef)
4 whole eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1t ground ginger
2T chopped garlic
1/4t crushed red pepper flakes
2 T Dijon mustard
black pepper to taste
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup whole oats
(The Inn at Evins Mill uses
Tennessee Oats)

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, using hands with gloves is the easiest way.
Chill for one hour as they are easier to shape when they are cold.
Shape into meatballs with hands or ice cream scoop to desired size.
Place on baking pan with sides to catch excess grease.
Bake in 400F oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm.
Number of meatballs will depend on size, but for 1 ounce meatballs, you will get 30-40.
Meatballs maybe frozen prior to cooking for latter use.
Serve with any sauce you desire, stir fried vegetables or roasted winter squash.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Make Pork Loin Roast or Secrets to the Perfect Pig

Many people who are just learning to cook (and some who have been cooking for years) shy away from cooking large pieces of meat because getting it "right" can be a bit intimidating. A perfect pork loin roast is truly a beautiful thing...but how to get it? You want a beautiful piece of pig that turns out roasted to a golden glow on the outside, but is thoroughly cooked on the inside without sacrificing that lovely juiciness. Do all of these qualities seem like the makings of an impossible recipe? Good CAN make the perfect pork loin roast!

I will give you instructions as accurately as I possibly can, but you must keep a few things in mind when preparing a pork loin roast. No two pieces of meat are exactly the same. All 4-pound pork roasts are not created equal. One can be long and thin, one short and thick and the amount of fat
left on the meat by the butcher varies from piece to piece. Keeping this in mind, you can still achieve the desired results, but you must be willing to "play" with the cooking times, have ample time to devote to the cooking process of the meat (at least 20-30 minutes per pound to slow cook and that's NOT exact) and be fearless to keep that pork loin roast in the oven, even when you might think it's been in there too long, until your thermometer tells you it's ready. Your new best friend is going to be a good meat thermometer. That is the surest way of getting the desired results. And, believe will agree that it's worth the trying, testing and temperature-taking when you taste your perfect pig!

Start with a good cut of meat. You can purchase the size of boneless pork loin roast that you want...but all prep and cooking times are determined by the amount of meat, as well as the aforementioned factors. A boneless pork loin roast and a pork tenderloin are NOT the same cut of meat! The tenderloin has a lower fat content and is a smaller cut of pork than the pork loin roast, so it will cook differently. If in doubt, don't be afraid to ask your butcher or the "head meat guy" at the grocery to help you find or select a good pork loin roast...he's there to help!

Choose a meaty pork roast, but make sure it has a nice layer of fat on one side. Do NOT trim off that fat because it is integral to the success of your meat! Put your oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Next you will season your pork.

Take 2 to 3 Tbsp. of olive oil and put it in a small bowl. Add your choice of spices and herbs to the olive oil, making sure you add enough to make a well-formed paste. You can use these, or any combination of these, to add to the olive oil: sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sage, rosemary (I suggest using ground or, if you have the whole, crush it in your hands before adding), thyme, oregano, sweet basil, cumin (use sparingly - cumin is a strong spice) OR Herbes de Provence (which is a lovely blend of crushed/ground bay leaves, thyme, fennel, rosemary, chervil, oregano, summer savory, tarragon, mint, marjoram and lavender - it is ALWAYS found in my kitchen and I use it along with sea salt, black pepper, basil, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin on my pork loin roast!) You want the paste to be fairly thick, but still speadable. The best way to coat the pork loin roast is to scoop the paste up with your hands and "massage" it into the meat. Make sure you coat all sides...don't forget each end of the pork loin roast.

You will need a roasting pan with a rack. If you don't have a rack, use heavy aluminum foil and crunch it up into a make-shift rack. You can crush it, then straighten it back out, forming wavy little elevations and divots and folding up the sides to catch the juices and melted fats that run off during the roasting process. Place the pork loin roast that has been coated with the olive oil/spice/herb paste FAT SIDE UP on the rack in the roasting pan, uncovered; put the roasting pan on the center oven rack and close the door.

(This post will be continued.)