Monday, December 28, 2009

Creating Christmas Memories

By dinner time on Christmas I'm usually happy to do something very simple, but this year we were fortunate in that Grandma L was going to be with us and so was our daughter!

This Christmas for our dinner she suggested that we make a dish that we had talked about making together sometime. It is inspired by an entree she used to enjoy at Belltown Bistro when she lived in the Belltown area of Seattle.

Tender pork cubes are marinated and skewered with dried apricots. A glaze is applied during cooking that creates a lacquered appearance. Sweetie did the honors of grilling the kebabs, but wasn't too successful in making the pork look lacquered...I guess there is a restaurant secret...but the dish was delicious, fancy and fun to make together.

We served it over a wild and brown rice melange than included dried cranberries and orange zest and juice. Grandma L brought her famous fresh green beens with bacon and they were the perfect side dish for this meal. We served a Porter Creek Pinot (thanks Kate W!) which was an excellent wine for the meal. Toasts were shared and we made merry! Holiday memories in the making.

Apple Lacquered Pork Kebabs with Apricot
1 pork tenderloin, cut in about 1 inch cubes
1 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon type mustard
¼ teaspoon ground sage
2 tablespoons apricot jam
salt and pepper to taste

Apple-Apricot Lacquer
1 cup apple juice
¼ cup apricot jam

8 – 10 oz moist dried apricots
Wooden or metal skewers

In a wide, shallow pan over medium-high heat, reduce the apple juice by half, stirring occasionally with a whisk. It will thicken slightly and measure about ½ cup.

In non-reactive bowl place reduced apple juice, mustard, sage, apricot jam and whisk to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the pork cubes in the apple juice mixture and turn to coat all pieces. Cover and marinate in a cool place (like the refrigerator) for 3-4 hours, stirring a few times to coat the pieces with the marinade.

Prepare the Apple Apricot Lacquer: In a wide, shallow pan combine the apple juice and the apricot jam with a whisk. Whisk over high heat until thick and syrupy, about 5 – 8 minutes. Set aside.

Soak wooden skewers for 20 minutes in warm water if using. Drain pork and discard the marinade. Thread two dried apricots on skewer, followed by a pork cube, two more dried apricots, another pork cube and repeat until there are 4 -5 pork cubes on the skewer.

Set aside and repeat with more skewers until all pork cubes have been threaded on skewers. Keep cool until barbeque is ready for cooking.

Heat barbeque, either pre-heating a gas grill or light charcoal and let burn until a light ash coats them.

Grill the skewers, brushing with the Apple Apricot Lacquer before putting on the grill and every few minutes as you grill them. The dried fruit may char a bit. Meat is done when one cube, cut open, shows very faint pinkness.

Serve at once, passing any extra Lacquer with the skewers. This is very nice served on a bed of hot Brown and Wild Rice with Cranberries.

Can be garnished with fresh sage leaves.

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