Written by Roxannah Hunter
If you’re anything like me, hosting a dinner party conjures up images of grand feasts and intimate gatherings where friends, family, and acquaintances can unite to enjoy good food and share life. The combination of generosity and comfort provided by dining at someone’s home creates an experience that is simply unmatched – especially during the holidays.
Yet the idea of hosting is not without its visions of distress. Managing the early arrival of guests, improvising for forgotten ingredients, and tending to dirty dishes is enough to dissuade people from entertaining.
For this reason, like Emily Dickinson, I too “dwell in possibility.” I imagine the meals I could create, recipes I could try, and tablescapes I could design. I rifle through the pages of my otherwise dusty collection of cookbooks to locate recipes in order to impress my guests and show off my culinary skill. Like the soufflé that has the best intentions of rising, my plans fall at. I never invite my friends, turn, on my oven, and prepare a meal. These are the dinner parties that forever remain in my head but rarely actualized in my home.
Kelly Kapinos, chef at Reflections Restaurant, directed me towards a seasonal dish that utilizes fresh produce and all-natural products gathered from farm stands and local purveyors. She suggests making Pork Roulade with Harvest Stuffing served alongside Crispy Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Garlic because it is easy to prepare and transport to a dinner party destination. Pairing well with other seasonal offerings like roasted butternut squash or broccoli rabe, Kapinos mentions that the dish pairs well with most items served during the fall and winter seasons. The simple preparation allows hosts to spend time on what Kapinos says is most important about hosting- making sure that everybody’s happy and well-fed. “There should always be plenty of laughs,” adds Kapinos, “and never a dull moment.”
Crispy Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Garlic with Chef Kelly Kapinos
10-12 Brussel Sprouts, cleaned & halved
1/4 lb. Applewood Bacon, minced
2 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
2 T Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Blanch Brussel sprouts in boiling salted water for 4 minutes, drain and cool with cold water. In sauté pan over medium-high heat, add oil and bacon. Cook 2 minutes until bacon starts to brown. Add Brussel sprouts and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until bacon crisps. Serve hot.
Pork Roulade with Harvest Stuffing
1/2 Onion, small diced
1/2 Beet, small diced
1 ea. Pear, small diced
1/4 c butternut squash, small diced 1 bunch sage, sliced thin Pork Tenderloin, cleaned, sliced down the middle halfway through, pounded out till flat
Sauté onion, butternut squash, and pear over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add beets and cook 2 minutes. Pull from heat and add sage. Allow to cool. Spread stuffing across center of pork and roll. Using kitchen twine, tie around 4 times to secure filling. Place into 350-degree oven for 15 minutes, flip over and continue for another 10 to 15 minutes or until temperature reaches 165. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice to serve.