Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Cooking with Cornelius - The Corning Cookbook" - Marinated Pork Roast

Date I made this recipe: November 12, 2007

Cooking with Cornelius – The Corning Cookbook by Cornelius O’Donnell
Published by: Random House
© 1982
Recipe: Marinated Pork Roast – p. 46

If you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s like I did, it’s entirely possible that a good portion of your mother’s cookware was produced by Corning Glass Works. The amazing thing is that she still has it after all these years—all those white and blue cornflower cooking pieces with nary a scratch on them. My mother was positively vigilant about keeping the white cookware surfaces white whereas I’m lucky if I notice my favorite coffee cup is getting a little stained. Such devotion to cookware maintenance is to be admired.

Although I have no idea if the author of this cookbook, Cornelius O’Donnell was devoted to sparkling white cookware, my guess is that he was devoted to the company being that he was a spokesperson for Corning’s Consumer Products Division. But beyond what is written in the Introduction, not much is known about Cornelius. I tried to Google him and only got links to booksellers who are selling copies of the book—not exactly helpful seeing as how I already have the book.

And so I went to Corning’s website fully expecting to see something about Cornelius pop up but nothing did. Instead, what came up when I accessed the website gave me one of the biggest letdowns in my life, right along with finding out that Santa was mom and dad. People, the cookware had all but disappeared, replaced instead by glass products in the form of display technologies, environmental technologies (“leading solutions for emissions controls challenges”—what does that have to do with cookware?) and cable systems. What the ???!

And so I dug a little deeper and found out that CorningWare is a registered trademark of Corning International used under license by World Kitchen, LLC. But alas, even World Kitchen does not carry my beloved Blue Cornflower pattern. For that, I’m going to have to either raid my mom’s kitchen or hit eBay or some other source for “antique” cookware. As if I don’t feel old enough already….

And so that’s all I know about Cornelius and Corning and World Kitchen and as you can see, it’s very little. But I do know a little about cooking pork and let’s just say that when all else fails, use a meat thermometer. (Hmmm….wonder if Corning makes that product?!)

This recipe for Marinated Pork Roast was really easy but only somewhat tasty. I think the problem is that the recipe was written at a time when people like my mother cooked the heck out of pork lest we all get sick and die (dying from food poisoning was probably my mother’s biggest fear, such that she rub-a-dub-dubbed every cutting board within a mile of her kitchen with Comet. She also cleaned the dishes within an inch of their life before putting them in the dishwasher, something that challenged the rest of us when deciding whether to empty it or run it.). So anyway, the recipe said to roast the meat for 1 ¼ hours at 350. I think that was a bit too long. I also think I might have blown it on the internal temperature.

Only modern cookbooks contain instructions to roast to a certain temperature level and rather than hit some of my new books, I Googled “pork roasting temperatures” to see what I should be looking for. Most sites I checked said 160 which I believe is too high. The meat wasn’t overcooked but it bordered on it. When I first checked it, it read 140 and so I let it rest until it hit 160 (my mother’s voice was in my ear the entire time) but you might want to play with it a bit. Of course, many of you might like your pork to look safe to eat when pulled from the oven in which case 1 ¼ hours at 350 will be just fine. (By the way, my roast size was 2.5 pounds).

As to the marinade, it was really good and really fragrant (Bourbon has a way of smelling good, even in a marinade) but didn’t impart much taste to the meat, despite marinating for 24 hours as directed. I was supposed to use the remaining marinade to make gravy but I basted the meat with it instead. I had to chuckle at the last direction to heat the remaining marinade. Not in my mom’s kitchen. No amount of heat or even bourbon in the recipe would have satisfied my mom that it was safe to serve, especially after raw pork sat in it for hours on end. And so we would have had a naked roast and that would have suited us just fine. Besides, that’s what mustard and applesauce and all kinds of other condiments are for!

As a final note, should you ever find yourself in Corning, NY, CorningWare’s original home, you should stop by and check out their Corning Museum of Glass - http://www.cmog.org/. My husband and I were there nine years ago and were really in awe of the glass collection they amassed. And don’t forget the gift shop although you very likely won’t find a copy of this cookbook there. But it doesn’t hurt to ask and maybe someone can even give you the low-down on Cornelius. If you get the dirt, drop me a line!

Marinated Pork Roast – Serves 8

This recipe calls for one 5- to 6-pound center-cut line of pork, boned. I used a 2.5 pound roast and cut the marinade in half.

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup bourbon
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons dry mustard
1-2 tablespoons finely diced ginger or 1 teaspoon powdered

Trim the pork roast of all but ¼ inch of fat (note: if you manage to find a piece of meat with any fat on it anymore, let me know. I didn’t have to trim a thing and that may have led to a drier roast).

Mix the marinade ingredients together then put the meat with the marinade into a tight-fitting plastic bag and seal. Marinate overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350. Drain the roast, reserving the marinade. Bake for 1 ¼ hours, basting 4 or 5 times with the marinade. I’d pull this out when it’s at 140-145 and then let the temperature climb while the roast rests 10 minutes before you carve it into thin slices. Heat the remaining marinade and serve as gravy.

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