bourbon-vanilla soaked pork roast w/ spicy pecan gravy
loosely based from Emeril Lagasse
from vanillasugarblog.com

Cook notes: I soaked my pork roast for 6 days and it was fine. The longer a meat soaks in booze the better. Make sure you pat the roast dry before roasting it. Always roast your meats on a rack, this helps with even cooking. The gravy is very thick; I like mine very thick. If you do not, then just add in more chicken stock. The gravy is not that spicy, but a gentle heat; add in more or less as you desire. And it really does help to use a high quality bourbon—makes all the difference in taste (less alcohol taste).

1 vanilla beans, split and scraped
1 ts Madagascar vanilla extract
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup plus 1 TB apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
A couple dashes of cinnamon
¼ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup of good bourbon
1 pork loin, tied (about 4-6 pounds)

In a small saucepan, combine: vanilla beans, vanilla extract, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, orange juice, and bay leaves. Cook over medium heat until sugar is melted and the mixture is at a gentle boil, about 15- 20 mins. Take off the heat and add in the bourbon. Let cool.
Place pork in a glass or ceramic pan. Once marinade is cool pour on pork roast. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 48 hours. PLEASE turn the roast over every 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove pork from marinade and pat dry. Transfer marinade to a saucepan and reduce volume by at least 1/3. (throw away the bay leaves). We are going to use some of the reduced marinade in the gravy. Recipe from dawn finicane of http://vanillakitchen.blogspot.com Place pork on a rack on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a thermometer reads 155 degrees F. Always let the meat rest before slicing into it; at least 5 – 10 minutes.

spicy pecan gravy:

1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter
¼ cup chopped red onion
1/2 TB chopped garlic
1/8 ts cayenne pepper (I used ½ ts)
2 TB flour, sifted
1 cup pork reduction liquid
1 cup chicken stock

Make sure to toast your pecans! Then in a saucepan cook red onions in butter for about 5 – 8 minutes. Then add in the pecans, cook and stir for about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, cayenne pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
Add flour (add in the flour via a sifter so you get no lumps), cook for 2 minutes, then add marinating liquid and chicken stock.
Continue to cook until sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.

brown sugar-cream cheese mashed sweet potatoes:

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
3 TB butter, room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 TB dark brown sugar
A dash or three of pure maple syrup

Roast cut sweet potatoes in 400 degree oven till done; about 20 – 30 minutes.
Mash potatoes or use a food mill or ricer. Using a large plastic spatula, fold in butter, cream cheese, dark brown sugar, and maple syrup. Taste test, and add in salt & pepper if needed.
Serve immediately.