Dinner parties are the new color blocking in food. At my age, people don’t typically host dinner parties. We may go over to someone’s house to “grill out” where we drink from red solo cups and eat charred burgers off of paper plates but no one ever sets a table, brings out the fine china, plans a menu and so forth. The ‘Puter Hub and I have been married for almost five years now, and we have used our fine china and crystal a whopping two times. I made excuses. “Well, we will save it when we host Christmas or Thanksgiving for our families one day” or “We don’t have a big enough table” or “Our house isn’t big enough” or “What if the dinner goes up in flames?” or “What if the dinner tastes so awful that my friends have to gnaw off their limbs because I have starved them to the point of no return?” … I think you get it.
Then, I had an epiphany. Lightening struck. Thunder roared. The clouds broke, and the light shined upon my head. There might not be a “one day.”
What’s the old Thomas Jefferson adage? “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Gosh, that TJ! Such a babe. If I was in college in 1762, we totally would have made out. At a bar.
Back to the dinner party. This roasted pork is your perfect staple. Ask each of your friends to contribute a side dish and wine. Provide wine in case someone forgets. Never run out of wine. Make a dessert because you like to bake or purchase a dessert because bakeries are better at baking. Rent a table if needed. Borrow a card table. Don a cazh outfit to make your guests feel more relaxed. Talk about the fact that there are people who actually make whoopee to horses to make them feel even more relaxed. Set the table. Use the fine china. Break out the crystal. Have a good time. Your friends aren’t going to light you on fire if the dinner tastes horrid. You can always drink your dinner. (See: Thomas Jefferson making out with twenty-something at college bar.)
Ask your friends to take shots out of 1760 cordial glasses. Snap a pic.
Invite their four-legged friends to add a dash of chaos.
Show them pictures of your sister on a boat cross-eyed when all else fails.
Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from Giada’s Family Dinners
Notes: Giada says to use a pork roast, but I am not sure of the difference between a roast and a tenderloin. The first time I made this, I used two pork tenderloins and tied them together. The second time, I used three, where I tied two and left the other one by its lonesome. Yes, he was a third wheel, but he was OK with it.
With the pancetta, the first time I had rectangular slices and the second time I had round slices. Each of them worked out just fine.
- 8 large garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) tied boneless pork tenderloin
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
Blend the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oil in a small food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the garlic is minced.
Sprinkle the pork roast generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the pancetta slices on a work surface, overlapping slightly and forming a rectangle. Spread half of the garlic mixture over 1 side of the pork and between the 2 loins that meet in the center of the tied pork roast. Place the pork, garlic mixture side down, in the center of the pancetta rectangle. Spread the remaining garlic mixture over the remaining pork. Wrap the pancetta slices around the pork. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Pour 1/2 cup of broth and 1/2 cup of wine into the roasting pan. Add more broth and wine to the pan juices every 20 minutes. Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F for medium-rare, about 1 hour. Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes. Pour the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup and spoon off any fat that rises to the top.
Using a large sharp carving knife, cut the pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve with the pan juices.