Tradition Without the Pit


When I was growing up, we never had what you might call a "traditional" Christmas Eve supper. My family always roasted an entire pig in the backyard, either in a pit or in a sawed-off 50-gallon drum.

My father (the pretend cook) and my uncle (the real cook) would marinate the pork in garlic and sour orange juice, then add branches from our sour orange tree to the coals and wood chips. My mother always made yuca en mojo de ajo and, for some reason, that green bean and mushroom soup casserole topped with canned fried onion rings. Ugh.

The memories of those Christmas Eves are indelible, but I'm certainly not going to roast a pig in my backyard. So this is an updated version of those wonderful dishes. Kumquats replace the sour oranges in the pork; turnips and parsnips stand in for the yuca, and a more traditional green beans and almonds substitute for "that casserole." Maybe my daughter, who at age 3 already loves to cook, will update this update when it's her turn to cook for the family.


Roast Pork Loin With Kumquats and Sgae

Green Beans and Almonds

Pan Fried Turnips, Parsnips and Pears


Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Chicken stock






1 lemon

2 oranges

1 bunch fresh sage

6 turnips

1 (1-pound) bag parsnips

4 shallots

1 bunch fresh thyme

1/2 pound kumquats

1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin

1 1/2 pounds green beans

2 (2-ounce) packages slivered almonds


1 to 2 days before: Prepare marinade and add meat.

3 hours before: Prepare kumquats and garlic and add to pork. Roast pork.

2 hours before: Prepare turnips and parsnips and keep refrigerated in bowl of water until ready to finish cooking. Prepare pears and keep refrigerated in separate bowl of water with lemon. Trim green beans.

20 minutes before: After removing roast from oven, make kumquat sauce. Finish cooking turnips, parsnips and pears. Cook green beans and almonds.


1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons minced sage

1/2 pound kumquats (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 head garlic

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon sugar

Put pork loin into large glass baking dish. Combine minced garlic, lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and sage and pour over pork, turning to coat well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 24 to 48 hours, turning meat several times.

Cut kumquats in half, remove seeds, then cut into thin slices. Blanch sliced kumquats in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and set aside. Cut each garlic clove in half lengthwise and add to drained kumquats.

Place pork and marinade in roasting pan. Add kumquats and garlic and roast at 325 degrees until internal meat temperature reaches 150 degrees, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove roast, leaving kumquats and garlic, and cover loosely with foil.

Deglaze pan with chicken stock and cook over high heat until sauce begins to thicken. Add honey and sugar and correct salt and pepper.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Each of 10 servings contains about:

361 calories; 556 mg sodium; 107 mg cholesterol; 18 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 39 grams protein; 1.23 grams fiber.


6 turnips

8 parsnips

3 pears

1/4 cup butter

4 shallots, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

Salt, pepper

Cut turnips in half, then cut each half in thin slices. Cut parsnips diagonally into thin slices. Add to turnips. Cut pears in half, core and cut in thin slices. Add to turnips and parsnips.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turnips, parsnips and pears and cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add shallots, thyme, salt and pepper to taste and cook 5 more minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and golden. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Each of 10 servings contains about:

106 calories; 98 mg sodium; 12 mg cholesterol; 5 grams fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 1.58 grams fiber.


1 1/2 pounds green beans

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons oil

2/3 cup slivered, blanched almonds

Salt and pepper

Trim tips from green beans. Melt butter and oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add green beans and cook until beans are still crisp but beginning to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add almonds, salt and pepper to taste and cook another 3 minutes. Serve at once.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Each serving contains about:

177 calories; 102 mg sodium; 16 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 1.21 grams fiber.

* Artichaut's "Envers Broche's" French dinnerware from Malibu Colony Co. and Laguna Colony Co.

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