SMOKED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH ROASTED PARSNIPS

You know those dinners you think might turn out pretty tasty and they go on to blow your mind in the deliciousness department? This was it. I had never smoked a pork tenderloin, but it sounded like a simple, new way to enjoy one of our favorite cuts of meat. Parsnips are the classical example of under-rated root veggie, but paired with maple syrup and harissa? Yes, please. Great dinner, and thanks to social isolation quite doable any day of the week.

SMOKED PORK TENDERLOIN
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pork tenderloin, silverskin removed
olive oil to rub, about 2 Tablespoons
coarsely crushed peppercorns, about 1 Tablespoon
1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar
salt to taste
applewood for smoking

Mix the peppercorns and sugar in a small bowl. Dry the meat well. Rub with olive oil, then coat with a small amount of the spice mixture. Season with salt to taste.

Place in smoker set at 225 F with a small amount of applewood chips. Smoke for 3 hours.

Let it sit for 10 minutes, tented with foil. Slice the meat and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ROASTED PARSNIPS WITH MAPLE AND HARISSA
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Parsnips, peeled and cut in steak-fries style
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 tsp Rosey Harissa (or substitute smoked paprika + harissa or other seasoning of your choice)
Salt to taste
(asparagus are optional)

Heat oven to 425F. Make a spice mixture with the olive oil, maple and Rosey Harissa or another seasoning of your choice.

Coat the pieces of parsnips with the mixture. Add to a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil, season with salt. Add a splash of water to the pan, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove foil, add asparagus (if using), mix well and roast for 20 minutes more, until veggies are nicely browned.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The Rosey Harissa spice has been on my list of things to try for a long time. I don’t even remember where I read about it for the first time, it’s been a while. I finally caved and ordered a bottle (it is a bit pricey), but I’m glad I did. It conveys a similar flavor of my recent passion (Ottolenghi’s Rose Harissa paste), but because it is dry, you can use it in different ways and it can sit in your pantry for a longer time. Smells wonderful.

The meat was tender, juicy, and with a nice hint of smoke. It went perfectly well with the roasted veggies.  I had some leftover asparagus sitting in the fridge, so I roasted with the parsnips, but you can omit that or even add other root veggies, just keep in mind their roasting times. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, turnips, they would all work great.

I know not everyone has a smoker, so you can do a similar preparation cooking the pork tenderloin in the oven, after searing it on the stove top. Use smoked paprika to season it, and you will be on your way for a delicious meal.

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PORK TENDERLOIN ROULADE WITH PUMPKIN AND PECANS

This is a super simple recipe, but one that looks like you spent a considerable effort to bring to the table. I made it sous-vide, but you don’t have to do it this way, I offer alternatives for stove-top cooking. You can also use chicken breasts instead of pork, I made it both ways, not sure which one I prefer, I think the pork makes it easier to roll and looks a bit more tidy in the end. So that’s the one I picked to highlight today.

PORK TENDERLOIN ROULADE WITH PUMPKIN AND PECANS
(adapted from The Essential Sous Vide Cookbook)

2 pork tenderloins (about 1.2 pounds each)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
2 tsp Southwest spice mix (I used Penzey’s)
3/4 cup chicken broth (divided)
¼ cup apple cider
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon flour

Heat the water bath to 150°F.

Butterfly the pork tenderloins and use a rolling-pin or a meat mallet to flatten the meat to about 1/4 inch thick. Protect them with a plastic wrap and sprinkle the meat with a tiny amount of water before pounding. Season with salt and pepper all over.

In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin purée, the pecans, the Southwest mix, and a smidgen of salt. Spread half the filling on each piece of meat, leaving a ½-inch border around it. Roll up each pork tenderloin jelly-roll style, starting at the narrow end, and tie with kitchen twine (use 4 or so pieces to cover the extension of the roll).

Pour ¼ cup of chicken broth and the apple cider into the bag. Add the roulades, and seal using the water displacement method. Place the bag in the water bath and cook for 5 to 6 hours. Remove the roulades from the bag, reserving the cooking liquid (pass it through a sieve if you prefer a smooth sauce in the end). Place the roulades on a paper towel–lined plate and pat them dry.

In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the pork and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.  If needed, add a bit more oil to the skillet, add the flour, cook it for a couple of minutes, then add 1 cup of chicken broth plus the reserved cooking liquid. Cook until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove the strings from the meat, cut in slices and serve with the gravy.

For non-sous vide cooking: make the roulades and start by browning them on all sides on a skillet with very hot olive oil. When golden brown, add the chicken stock and apple cider, cover, and simmer gently until cooked through, making sure the liquid comes at least to half the height of the roulades. Depending on the thickness of the roulades, it will take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Baste the roulades and turn them around on all sides during cooking.  Once done, reduce the cooking liquid by boiling, or if you like more of a gravy consistency, do the flour trick as described in the recipe.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The temperature for cooking pork is a matter of taste. I’ve mentioned it before, we don’t care for pork still pink in the center, so I always go for 150F. You should do what suits your taste. The sous-vide has two advantages, the flexibility in time – you can even push the cooking time a bit further, if needed – and the way it keeps the roulade shape during cooking, even though it is not vacuum-sealed. Of course, the texture of the meat is perfect when made sous-vide, but you can still get a very nice meal on the stove-top, it just takes a bit more of tending during cooking. You don’t want to over-cook the delicate meat, or leave it uncooked in the center.  As I mentioned, I also used chicken breasts, and the rolled effect is not as nice, but it still tasted great. For chicken breasts, I reduced the cooking time to 4 hours, and used 148 F. Probably not much difference from 150F, but that’s what I did.


I love to find uses for canned pumpkin puree, because I often use some in a recipe and have leftovers staring at me later. Yes, it freezes well, but there is a limit to the number of little packages one can keep track in the freezer. I rather open a can, use it all up, and move on. When I made the recipe a second time, I did not even toast the pecans and it was still very nice, so a few shortcuts here and there don’t hurt. The sous-vide is perfect for working days. I can prepare it all the evening before, leave the bag in the fridge, set up the water-bath at lunch next day, and arrive home to a nice, almost effortless dinner. A couple of side dishes, and we are set.

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PORK WITH PRUNES, OLIVES AND CAPERS

Time for comfort food. This is great on the day it is prepared, but even better a couple of days later, so it is one of those perfect dishes for entertaining. I went the extra mile and cut the pieces of meat myself, from a large bone-in pork shoulder. I suspect if you buy pork stew meat it will work nicely too, and save you quite a bit of work. Zen work, but… sometimes even that seems a bit much. There is a ton of flavor, so you don’t need to brown the meat, just marinate it overnight and it will be perfect.

PORK WITH PRUNES, OLIVES AND CAPERS
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

1.5kg pork shoulder – diced into pieces
375 ml dry white wine
200g pitted prunes
75g pitted black olives
2 Tbsp capers
2 tbsp Herbes de Provence
2½ tsp sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
250ml water
lemon juice to taste
fresh parsley leaves to serve (optional)

In a large freezer bag add the diced pork, wine, prunes, olives, capers, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Seal the bag and marinade overnight in the fridge.

Before cooking it, take out of the fridge a couple of hours before it goes in the oven to bring it to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 300 F.

Put the marinated pork into a large casserole dish, then add water.  Stir together, put the lid on cook in the oven for 2.5 to 3 hours. The pork will be soft and tender. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if so desired, and a nice squeeze of lemon juice.  

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Perfect meal to prepare during the weekend, although it could also be marinated early in the morning, stay full day in the fridge, and cook in the evening. Then it can go back to the fridge for a fantastic dinner next evening, absolutely effortless.  If you don’t care for capers or briny flavors, this might not be for you, it’s really the most prominent flavor. I happen to love it.

We enjoyed it with cauliflower puree, but obviously it would be a nice match for other side dishes, from mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even a hearty pasta too.

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BOURBON-GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PEA PESTO

At the risk of having some readers running away, I inform that this was made sous-vide. But, you can adapt to your favorite method of cooking without problems. I made the glaze and the pesto the day before, and started the tenderloin in the sous-vide at lunch time, for a fantastically easy dinner on a Thursday evening. As I pat myself on the back, allow me to share the recipe with you.

BOURBON-GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PEA PESTO
(adapted from Modernist Cooking Made Easy)

1 pork tenderloin (450g to 900g)
small pat of butter
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

for the Bourbon glaze:
1 cup bourbon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne chile powder
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
Salt and pepper

for the pesto:
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup packed fresh spinach
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper

At least 3 to 6 hours before serving heat a water bath to 150°F (or your favorite temperature for this type of meat).  Salt and pepper the pork then rub the lemon juice all over it. Place the pork in a sous vide bag with the butter then use the water displacement method to close the bag. Cook the pork for 3 to 6 hours.

Make the glaze by mixing together all ingredients in a pan, and simmering for about 30 minutes, until thickened. Reserve in the fridge if made in advance.

Make the pesto by adding all ingredients up to olive oil to the bowl of a food processor. When it’s all very smooth, add the olive oil, stir the Parmigiano cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  It is better if made in advance so that the flavors have a chance to develop together.  

At dinner time, heat  your grill or the broiler in the oven.  Remove the pork from the sous vide bag and pat dry. Brush the tenderloin with the glaze and sear it on the first side for a couple of minutes. Brush the glaze on the side facing up and turn the tenderloin. Repeat several times until it is coated with the glaze, cooking about 30 to 60 seconds per turn. Remove from the heat, brush once more with the glaze, slice and serve with the pesto at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The composite photo above shows how I almost pulled my left hamstring. I started “simmering” the components of the glaze, but evidently things got out of control, and I happened to catch the scene from the other side of the kitchen. Let’s say I arrived in time to prevent a huge mess, but not without some discomfort on a big muscle that was not happy with the unexpected sprint. Oh, well. It was all worth it. The glaze is pretty spectacular. And yes, I increased the heat again to catch it on camera because it was quite beautiful in its own adrenaline-inducing way. Reminded me of the lab in Brazil, when we used to throw dry ice in hot coffee. Fun times. Have you ever done that? Pretty cool, check it out here.

But, where was I? Oh, yes, our dinner. The pesto was wonderful too, but hubby preferred it warmed up, more like a pea puree of sorts. I like the contrast of cold with hot food, but I can actually enjoy it both ways. I leave the idea here, so you can decide how to serve it.  On a chilly evening, the puree idea is quite attractive.

Those familiar with sous-vide cooking might be wondering why I chose water displacement instead of vacuum sealing the bag. I’ve cooked pork tenderloin both ways, and in my opinion the vacuum sealing is too strong for this delicate type of meat. I find that it compresses the meat too much. By using the water replacement, it cooks with a perfect texture. Give it a try…

Great weeknight dinner! Pork, pea pesto, and roasted butternut squash.

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MAPLE GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN OVER LEMONY ZUCCHINI

After the caloric content of my previous post, it’s time to get back to our regular routine. Pork tenderloin is a favorite of ours, we like the texture, the subtle flavor, and the fact that it’s quite lean, which obviously poses problems for the cook.  This recipe is super simple, if you have time to marinade the meat hours in advance do it, but if not, offer it a 30 minute marinade-party, and move on. Or rather, grill on. You could go all fancy and put the meat on skewers, but this time I just laid every little morsel of goodness on the grill grates. I like the way those grill marks work on the flat surface of the meat. And, contrary to what most chefs recommend, we like our pork cooked past medium-rare.  Adjust your cooking time according to your personal preference.

MAPLE GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN OVER LEMONY ZUCCHINI
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the pork:
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut in 1/2 inch slices and lightly pounded
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sal
1/2 tsp black pepper

for the zucchini:
4 small zucchini, shredded on a food processor
1 tablespoon ghee (or olive oil)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
salt and pepper
juice and zest of one lemon

Make the marinade by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Add the pieces of pork to a plastic bag or small dish, and pour the marinade all over. Leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes to overnight.

Heat the grill.  Remove the pork from the bag, letting the marinade drip off. Lightly pat the pieces with a piece of paper to avoid excessive moisture to stay on the meat.  Grill the pieces to your preference, we like about 5 to 6 minutes per side on a very hot grill.

Prepare the zucchini.  Heat the ghee or olive oil on a large skillet. When very hot, add the shredded zucchini, season with salt and pepper. Leave undisturbed for a couple of minutes so that the layer in contact with the skillet will get brown. Move it around gently, keeping the heat high at all times. When the zucchini is almost done, make a small opening in the center of the skillet, add the almonds, let them saute for a couple of minutes, then mix them with the zucchini.  Squirt some lemon juice, add the zest, incorporate and serve immediately, with more lemon slices on the side.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are looking for a low-carb meal that satisfies, this is a good option.  Zucchini – either shredded, simply sautéed, or the more elaborate spiralized version – is a perfect match for pork tenderloin. Especially if you add a lemony touch to it, and a few nuts for a bit of texture. I was patting myself on the back after this dinner. Simple, quick to prepare, and mighty tasty. I hope you give it a try.

 

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