Friday, September 11, 2015

Parsnip and Portobello Stuffed Pork Chop with Brandied Persimmon Puree

     Persimmon Season!
     There are many persimmon varietals worldwide.  The word "Persimmon" comes from one of the Algonquin Native American languages called Powhatan.  The East Coast Native American words for Persimmon loosely translate to "dry fruit or dry tasting fruit."  
     Unripe hard persimmon has a dry astringent flavor that causes thirst.  When persimmon is fully ripened, the flavor is semi sweet and fruity.  
     Some varieties of persimmon take a long time to ripen, while others ripen in 1 to 2 weeks.  The fastest way to ripen persimmons is to place them in a refrigerator.  Chilling persimmons will speed up the ripening process.  A persimmon is not ripe until the skin splits in a few places on the fruit.  Ripe persimmons should be soft and not firm to the touch. 
     Persimmons do not need to be peeled, because they are usually pureed and passed through a strainer.  Where the stem is attached on the fruit, there is a pebble size core that should be removed.  The core does not have the same color as the fruit.

     Indiana and East Coast Persimmons are what I usually cook with.  For today's recipe, I selected two different varieties of persimmon.  One was an Indiana Persimmon and the other was a large Hachiya Persimmon.  Both ripened at the same time in the refrigerator. 
     Persimmon is nice for making sauces to accompany savory food and it is good for making old fashioned dessert recipes.  When I use persimmon to make a sauce for savory food, I like to create an entrée that has an old fashioned American theme.  Stuffed pork chops are as old fashioned as Appalachian style food gets!

     Parsnips have savory flavor that is perfect for flavoring a bread stuffing.  Sautéing parsnips till they lightly caramelize will sweeten the parsnips.  Portobello Mushrooms have a mellow rich flavor that goes well with both parsnips and persimmon.  Pork tastes nice with these ingredients too.
     This is a nice early winter stuffed pork chop entrée that has a rich comfortable flavor.  The Brandied Persimmon Puree Sauce really adds a nice touch.  

     Brandied Persimmon Puree:  
     This recipe yields enough puree for 3 or 4 stuffed pork chops!  Any extra brandied persimmon puree can be saved for other recipes.  
     Be sure to ripen the persimmons in a refrigerator, till they become soft and till the skin splits in a few places on the fruit.
     Step 1:  Select 1 Indiana Persimmon and 1 Hachiya Persimmon.
     Trim off the small core where the stem was attached on the persimmons.  (If there is a core!)
     Cut the persimmons into small pieces.
     Step 2:  Place the persimmon pieces in a small sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the persimmons with 2" of extra water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of ground ginger.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer till the persimmon fruit is very soft.  (This may take more than one hour!  Add water if necessary.)
     Step 5:  Allow the persimmons and liquid to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the ingredients with a food processor, blender or a blending wand.
     Press the thin persimmon puree through a fine mesh strainer into a second small sauce pot.
     Step 6:  Place the pot over low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of brandy.
     Gently simmer and reduce the puree, till is becomes a medium puree sauce consistency.
     Step 7:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Reheat the puree sauce when it is needed

     Parsnip and Portobello Bread Stuffing:
     This recipe yields enough stuffing for 1 large pork chop or 2 small pork chops.
     Overstuffed pork chops used to be a common sight at old fashioned comfort food restaurants.  The large amount of stuffing increases the eye appeal.  The large portion of stuffing takes the place of accompanying potatoes.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of coarse chopped peeled parsnip.
     Sauté till the parsnips turn a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 small portobello mushrooms that are cut into small bite size pieces.  (About 1/6 cup)
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon of diced onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Sauté till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add 3/4 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1 pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Simmer and reduce, till only 1 third cup of liquid remains.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 3/4 cup of French Bread that is cut into large diced cube shapes.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whisked egg.
     Gently stir and fold the ingredients together.
     Set the stuffing aside.

     Parsnip and Portobello Stuffed Pork Chop:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
     Step 1:  Select a thick boneless pork chop that weighs 6 to 8 ounces.
     Butterfly cut the pork chop open through the fat cap side of the pork chop.
     Step 2:  Place a generous amount of the parsnip and portabollo stuffing in the butterflied pork chop.  Evenly pack the stuffing, so the stuffed pork chop looks nice.
     Step 3:  Brush the top and bottom of the pork chop with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the stuffed pork chop on a wire creen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Season the pork chop with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of Herbs de Provence over the pork chop.  (An Herbs de Provence mixture with no lavender flowers is best!)
     Step 4:  Slowly roast the pork chop in a 325ºF oven.
     *The center of the stuffing should have a minimum temperature of 165ºF when it is fully cooked.  The pork chop should only have a few caramelized highlights or the meat will become dry!
     Set the roasted stuffed pork chop aside to rest for 1 minute.
     Parsnip and Portobello Stuffed Pork Chop with Brandied Persimmon Puree:
     Use a saucing spoon to paint wide streaks of the warm Brandied Persimmon Puree on a plate, as a bed for the stuffed pork chop.
     Place the Parsnip and Portobello Stuffed Pork Chop on the Brandied Persimmon Puree.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig. 
     *If the persimmon puree bleeds persimmon water, it is okay.  That is part of the nature of persimmon fruit!

     Delicious old fashioned comfortable flavors!  That is what today's early winter persimmon recipe is all about.  

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