The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Mr. Nowakoski’s Recipes: Thanksgiving Without the Turkey


Nearly 90 percent of Americans had a turkey at their table this Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. 

Peter Nowakoski, former chef and current head of Poly Prep’s English Department, was once tasked with creating an alternative to the traditional turkey main course while working at The Cranbury Inn, a restaurant in New Jersey. The restaurant was being featured on the Food Network TV Series “The Best Of” when Nowakoski was asked to do a cooking demo for the show, the second time he ever cooked on television. 

“Because it was Cranbury, and New Jersey is a major producer of cranberries… I came up with a cranberry stuffed pork loin,” said Nowakoski. Preparing the dish for the first time a few weeks before Thanksgiving, he took a whole pork loin, about three feet long and weighing in at about six pounds, and cut it open into a big flat piece. Then he made a cooked stuffing with cranberries, sage, herbs, allspice, and apples. Then Nowakoski rolled it up and tied it together before roasting the whole roll in the oven, creating neat pinwheels of stuffed pork loin.

To attempt such a dish for yourself, Nowakoski said there are a few ways one can go about it. The first way is to get a pork loin, which you can either roast on its own or slice it and pan fry the pork loin with some cranberries, apple cider, a few apple chunks, some breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, pepper, and “probably a lot of butter, a lot of butter to keep it moist because pork loin will dry out,” said Nowakoski. The whole process of pan frying should take just about ten minutes.

To make the cranberry sauce, Nowakoski has two options. One is a raw sauce with small diced onions, spices, sugar, and some Cointreau. The other is a cooked sauce with chutney spices, similar to a mango chutney sauce, but using cranberries instead, with a little extra sugar to make up for the difference between mangoes and cranberries. As for specific sizes, “the French chef in me always wants to match the sizes of everything,” said Nowakoski, but suggests leaving the apple chunks a little larger if you’d like. 

As for the apples, Nowakoski suggested honey crisp for a good cooking apple. A few other options are golden delicious, cox pippin, stayman winesaps, and empire apples. These apples will all hold their shape without disturbing the taste of the dish. 

To cook the complete dish, Nowakoski suggested for those at home to use a technique similar to basting in a pan with butter to ensure the pork loin doesn’t dry out. Another option is to use an oven, cooking the pork loin to a temperature of about 135 degrees, monitoring the temperature with a needle thermometer. He suggested cooking at a fairly low temperature, below 350 degrees, to ensure the pork loin cooks properly. Then, you put it all together with the cranberry sauce plated over the pork loin. Lastly, whether you attempt to cook the pork loin or not, give cooking at home a shot next Thanksgiving, as Nowakoski said, “Try never to eat out on Thanksgiving, everybody’s unhappy, cooks are unhappy, servers don’t want to be there… it’s a bunch of miserable people.”


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About the Contributor
TJ Iannelli, Managing Editor
TJ Iannelli is one of the Managing Editors for the Polygon. A member of the Polygon for three years now, TJ has been a staff writer and Opinions Editor in the past. His favorite articles to write vary, but mainly focus on major school changes or STEM. Outside of the Polygon, TJ is a two sport athlete and a member of Green Key. Some of his hobbies include surfing, snowboarding, and F1.

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