A Little Effort Goes A Long Way

Forgive me, I’m going to brag for a moment.

I had two mommy meetups on Sunday afternoon, a dinner party at my house on Monday, and a lunch potluck on Tuesday. I roasted a giant chunk of bone-in leg of pork and whipped up an olive tapenade, and had them for all 4 parties, plus dinner for my family on Sunday night. If I had realized along the way how well this would all work out, I would have taken more photos to document…

One of the mommy meetups was a cookie exchange, and I wanted to make the most amazing ginger cardamom bars, but crystalized ginger is having a bad moment (it’s not available in stores!), and I just couldn’t pull it off. I cut my losses (ie, gave up on my goal of DOING IT ALL) and texted the hostess asking if I could just bring wine. Check. Besides, I don’t need a bunch of cookies at my house, right?

While I was shopping at Whole Foods in search of said ginger, I stopped by the meat counter to see about a roast something for dinner. I was surprised to find a big bone-in pork leg for only $3.49/lb. My plan came together!

More on the pork in a minute.

Next stop, olive bar. I’ve pulled this trick before, and it’s delicious. I load up a container with about a half pound of olives of different types. Only the pitted ones! I whir it in the Cuisinart with a couple garlic cloves, a splash of olive oil to help hold it together, and salt & pepper. I bought 3 boxes of cracked pepper water crackers to go with the olives. One box for each party.

When I got home, I prepared the pork and put it in the oven at 200 degrees F and then prepared the olive tapenade and got dressed for Mommy Meetups.

Mommy Meetups: Olive Tapenade & crackers. It was a wine & chocolate party and then a cookie party, so I thought a little spicy savory nibble would be appreciated. Turns out I stayed so late at the first event that I missed all the guests at the second, but I had to be OK with that! {Let it go, you can’t do everything!}

I got home after both events and served my family some of the pork for Sunday dinner. I chose the thinner portion of the hunk o’ meat for dinner that first day, knowing that the rest would be reheated a few times.  Thicker meat = not as well done. And nobody wants tough, overcooked meat!

Monday dinner party: This was a potluck with 12 of my girlfriends, so I knew we wouldn’t need huge portions. There is usually so much food at these gatherings, so a little goes a long way. I heated the pork just enough to be room temperature. I would have heated it all the way to hot, but I didn’t want the meat to be tough. It was perfectly fine at room temp. The olive tapenade & water crackers went out with the other appetizers that some of the gals brought. Poached pears for dessert = super easy and light. I also made poached pears, so I had a starter, a protein and a light dessert – no matter what my friends brought, I knew I had the basics covered.

Tuesday lunch potluck: Once again, I heated the pork just enough to not be cold & coagulated. I intended to bring the last of the olive tapenade and last box of crackers, but I decided to save it for myself & Brian because I’m selfish like that!

It was so nice to do one bit of food prep, and have it carry me through so many events. And I still have some pork left! It will be lunch again tomorrow, I’m sure.

Here’s my recipe for the pork, which from all accounts is AMAZING. I agree, but of course I would think so because I made it exactly the way I would like it best! 

Spices! The shallot salt is notorious for getting clumpy, but it's totally fine if I grind it up with other whole spices.

7 lbs bone-in pork leg (Flintstone’s, anyone?)

In a mortar & pestle, grind up:

palm full, or about a Tablespoon, each of coriander seed, cumin seed, anise seed, black peppercorns, Penzey’s shallot salt, mustard powder, and sea salt.

Pat half of this ground-up mixture onto one side of the pork, then lay that side down on an oiled roasting pan. Pat the remainder on the naked (up) side of the pork.

Drizzle with soy sauce and olive oil, and another sprinkling of salt & pepper. Probably overkill, but that’s what I did.

After about an hour or so in the oven, drench the pork with a sauce of:

3 T tamarind paste blended with 1 cup of maple syrup and 1/4 c orange juice.

Roast the pork for a total of 5 hours, then check internal temperature for done-ness. Pork should be 145F. Let cool before slicing so the juices don’t all run out.

So there’s my recap of 3 days of stress-free parties: say no when you need to, and prepare once for multiple parties. It worked for me this time!

What are your secrets for getting through the holidays without killing someone?

Many cheers,
~Krista

My Flinstones-esque hunk of pork. 7 pounds for 3 meals!

Pork leg at the potluck, day three. Rave reviews!

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