I come from a family full of back wood Canadian hunters. Now I’m not talking about the the Burt Reynolds husky loving character found on the bottle of cheap Canadian Hunter brand Rye. I’m talking about the burly John Candy-esque hunters who are convinced they are native solely because their one cousin Kenny kinda sorta looks Inuit and by proving this to the government they would then have the luxury of year round permit free hunting and fishing. They truly are as Canadian as you can get as they own a maple sugar bush, an elk and cattle farm and love their hunting rifles almost as much as Texans love the second amendment.
When I first brought Greg to the small town of Maberly, Ontario I was slightly nervous this San Francisco native would be overwhelmed by my very large hunting loving family. Thankfully for me Greg could barely understand many of my relatives due to their thick Lanark county accent.
As we all sat around the picnic table at my grandfather’s cottage, my aunt Tammy decided to welcome Greg to the family with an impressively red neck story. I love Tammy to death despite her constant attempts to embarrass me in front of new boyfriends. I can’t blame her though since I was the flower girl from hell during her wedding to my uncle Tom.
She began to tell Greg the story of the first deer her eldest son Brandon had killed. One evening, at the ripe age of 9, Brandon was sitting in the living room watching Jeff Foxworthy. In the corner of his eye he noticed a large buck prancing in the field of their front yard. He quickly ran to the garage and grabbed his father’s bow and arrow. He then ran back up to the living room where he set up camp right there on the lazy boy recliner. He quietly opened the window and observed his prey. When the deer turned around Brandon shot the bow and arrow quickly killing the deer from the comforts of his living room.
Before Greg had the chance to say anything Tammy ran off to the barbecue to flip the burning elk burgers. My uncle Norman then moved in, and like an inquisitive youngster began asking Greg questions about Californian wildlife. “What kinda deer ya got down there?” he asked Greg. Without any knowledge of Californian hunting conditions Greg replied, “I think they are smaller?!”. Pleased by this answer Norman grinned and continued “What kinda trees ya got down there? They like up here?” Greg then replied, “Yes, I believe they are similar, however we have a lot more large coniferous trees in California.” Caught up with the idea of bigger trees and smaller deer Norman began to chuckle and as he walked away stated “That must be why all those Americans come up here to hunt.”
What I believed surprised Greg the most though was his conversation with my uncle Archie. He began talking about politics and I could see Greg was becoming quite worried about the outcome of this conversation. In most of Greg’s experiences people who considered themselves rednecks also tended to side with the right wing. In a shocking turn of events Greg and Archie agreed on many political thoughts and Greg left that conversation in awe of Archie’s liberalism.
Despite the pre-conceived notions of how the two polar opposites would interact, Greg and my family quite enjoyed each others company. Four years later the San Francisco native fits in like an old shoe and has attended many pig roasts and hoe downs.
This story seemed quite suiting for a meal that combines a country pork roast with what my family would call city food; goat cheese, wild rice and apricots. I hope all you country bumpkins and city folk can both find pleasure in this meal.
1 8-12 ounce pork tenderloin
¼ cup cooked long grain wild rice blend
2 Tbsp. dried apricots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup baby spinach
3 Tbsp. goat cheese
1 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 400
Butterfly cut the pork tenderloin length wise.
In a bowl, combine cooked rice, apricots, garlic, and rosemary; salt and pepper to taste.
Place spinach along the centre of the pork, top with goat cheese and wild rice mixture.
Roll the pork tenderloin, ensuring the stuffing is bound in the centre. Using butcher twine, securely tie the stuffed pork. Rub the outside of the roll with Dijon mustard.
Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Place pork roll in skillet and brown lightly, turning until meat is a consistent pinkish brown.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand an additional 15 minutes.
Remove butchers twine and slice inch wide cross sections. Serve immediately.