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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WHOLE-LEMON MARINADE: LONG OVERDUE

For years, and I mean many years, I’ve been trying to find a recipe from Mario Batali, one that I am sure I watched him prepare on live TV probably mid 90’s. Google searches, cookbook searches, nothing ever gave me the recipe I remember. At some point I started to doubt myself. Did I really see him make it? Maybe I dreamed the whole lemon (literally) thing.  Tired of this inner battle, I decided to come with a recipe myself. And I am here to tell you, it worked like a charm! I’ve made this marinade three times over a period of two weeks. Love it. If you are into citric flavors, consider this my gift to you…

GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH WHOLE-LEMON MARINADE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 whole lemons, washed, cut in four pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or to taste)
2 teaspoons honey (or agave nectar, or maple syrup)
salt and pepper to taste
pork tenderloin, butterflied

Place all ingredients (except pork, obviously) in a food processor or blender. Blend until reasonably smooth. You will have the lemon pieces still pretty evident.  Don’t worry about it.

Add the meat into a bag, cover with the marinade and leave it for a few hours in the fridge or for one hour at room temperature.

Scrape most of the marinade off, season the meat lightly with a bit more salt and grill until cooked the way you prefer. We like our pork beyond medium-rare, so we go for a total of 16 minutes on a super hot grill.

Allow the meat to rest, cut in thin slices and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

A peek inside the blender

Comments: This is a hit of lemon like no other. I’ve used both food processor and blender to make it, not sure which one I prefer. They both worked well, I think the blender is easier to clean, but make sure yours can handle the job of dealing with a whole lemon. Our Vitamix doesn’t even blink. Not that a blender has eyes, but oh, well. Figuratively speaking. On the third time making this marinade, I used one lemon and one lime. You can see the specks of lime green in the photo above. It brightens up the flavor even more, but I advise you to start with lemons alone and see how you like it. As if you are cooking Mexican food, go for the Serrano first, to see if you can handle the  Habanero… 😉

I also used the exact same marinade on chicken thighs. The method is my default. Skin down on a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 300 F, then flip the pieces over, remove the foil and increase the temperature to 400 F until the skin is all brown.  A final encounter with the broiler if you are so inclined.

We really love the intensity of the lemon flavor in this preparation. Quite evident, particularly in the pork tenderloin.  I know this will be in our constant rotation, as both types of protein (pork tenderloin and chicken thighs) are favorites, I make each once per week, almost without fail.  For the pork, I can make the marinade at lunch time, leave the meat in the fridge and have dinner ready in less than 30 minutes. Chicken thighs are usually a weekend thing, but come to think of it, if I adapt it for sous-vide, that too can be at our table on a weeknight. Stay tuned!

Pinning is caring!
😉

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PORK TENDERLOIN, BRACIOLE STYLE

There I go taking liberties with food once again. Braciole is a very traditional Italian recipe made with beef. Flank steak, butterflied and pounded thin is the meat of choice for it. I used pork tenderloin. And I made it sous-vide. Reckless. Times two.

PORK TENDERLOIN, BRACIOLE STYLE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Jeff Mauro)

1 pork tenderloin, butterflied, pounded thin
salt and pepper
smoked mozzarella, sliced thin
8 asparagus stalks, blanched and cooled
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup sun-dried cherry tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons walnuts, toasted and diced
3 tablespoons raisins
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
for searing:
a little olive oil
a little lemon juice
a touch of maple syrup

Make the filling by mixing Panko bread crumbs, tomatoes, walnuts, raisins and olive oil in a small bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Place the butterflied pork tenderloin on a flat surface, season with salt and pepper. Lay slices of smoked mozzarella over the surface, leaving a little border without cheese all around. Place the stalks of asparagus over the cheese, add the filling on top.  Roll the meat as tightly as  you can make it, tie with kitchen twine at 2 inch intervals. Season the surface lightly with salt and pepper. If using sous-vide, seal the meat and place in a water-bath set to 140F. Cook for 2 to 6 hours.

Make the brushing sauce by mixing  olive oil, lemon juice, and maple syrup in a small bowl. Remove the meat from the bag,  brush the surface with the olive oil mixture, and sear on a hot grill or non-stick pan. Cut in slices and serve.

If cooking on a regular oven, sear the surface of the meat over high heat after brushing with the olive oil mixture. Place in a 375 F oven until done to your liking.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can definitely make this exact recipe without a sous-vide gadget. The  big advantage of sous-vide is keeping the rolled meat nicely tight. No filling spills out, it is all contained by the vacuum packing. And, of course, the flexibility with timing is a nice touch too. Anywhere from 2 to 6 hours will work perfectly well, all you have to do after is sear the outside for cosmetic reasons. For our taste the pork cooked at 140F was too rare. I was kicking myself for choosing that temperature, knowing that we do not like the taste of the meat when it’s still a bit pink. So, full disclosure: I seared the cut slices briefly on a skillet before we enjoyed them. Next time I’ll go for 150F.

The smoked  mozzarella does a magical job in the filling. It packs so much flavor, and it pairs well with the sweetness of the raisins and the sun-dried tomatoes. A very nice main dish well suited for company. You can serve it with many sides: mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes, a little pasta, or a lemony risotto. If you prefer a more austere route, just a salad with a bright vinaigrette will do.

Soon I’ll make the traditional version with flank steak, since we enjoyed this one so much.  Flank steak will be easier to roll in layers, the pork tenderloin ends up more like a single layer of meat enclosing the filling.  I imagine that I could have pounded it a bit thinner, but I was afraid to compromise the texture of the meat.  At any rate, this one is a keeper, and I hope that – sous-vide or not – you’ll give it a try.

Make me happy… grab a pin!

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PORK MEDALLIONS WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE

Sounds pretty fancy, doesn’t it? But this was our dinner on a humble Wednesday night, which would make it appropriate for a “Celebrate Wednesday” post. It’s been a long while,  I confess I totally forgot about my own blog feature. The pork was prepared sous-vide, but of course you can use any method you prefer. I love the sous-vide path because it results in perfect texture and gives me a lot of flexibility in timing.  In the case of medallions, after cooking them whole in the water bath I slice and sear them briefly on a screaming hot non-stick pan with ridges, but you can also use a grill. On weeknights I am all for convenience and prefer not to wait for the grill to heat up.  Your call.

pork-tenderloin

PORK MEDALLIONS WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
(sous-vide or regular cooking)

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed, silver skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon butter
lemon juice
for the compote:
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups blackberries
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
pinch of cardamon
pinch of salt

Season the pork with salt, rub the ginger all over, squirt a little lemon juice. Place it in a vacuum sealable bag, add the butter on top and seal the bag. Cook sous-vide at 140 to 145 F for 3 to 6 hours. When it’s time to serve, cut the pork in medallions and sear each slice on a screaming hot pan, preferably non-stick with ridges.  You can also sear it on a grill.  If you don’t have a sous-vide gadget, sear the pork after seasoning on a skillet with a mixture of butter and olive oil, then place in a 400 F oven until done to your liking.  Cut in slices and proceed with the recipe.

Make the compote. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. In a medium bowl, toss the berries with the arrowroot powder, then add the berries, lemon juice, cardamon, and salt to the pan. Cook over low heat until the berries soften and the liquid seems a bit thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while.

Spoon the compote, either warm or room temperature over the seared pork slices, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Pairing pork with fruit works very well for my taste.  Phil goes along for the ride, but I suppose he is not as into it as I am. I debated whether to process the fruit to make more of a sauce, but for the sake of speed and simplicity, I served it with blackberries still intact, although ready to melt in the mouth. The compote was still warm when I spooned over the meat, next day for my lunch I barely killed the cold from the fridge with a quick microwave step. Even at room temperature it does its job well.   Mashed cauliflower and green beans with almonds tied up our dinner. Interestingly,  this meal took me back to a dinner in Germany a looong time ago with my first husband and his family. That evening I had venison with blackberry sauce, and it stayed in my memory as one amazing meal.  I could not participate of their lively conversation in German, so maybe that made it for an even more intense gastronomic experience, all my senses converged to taste and smell…  Gotta dance to the music. Always.

😉

pork-medallions-with-blackberry-compote

 

 

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NEW MEXICO PORK CHILE, CROCKPOT VERSION

Ah, the best laid plans! After being away from home for two weeks, resuming the routine can be a bit tricky. I chose simple recipes for our dinners, as we did not have much of a chance to catch our breath. We landed around noon on a Sunday, and went back to work early next day. One simple dinner would be a pork chili made in the slow-cooker. It is so convenient to arrive back from work to a dinner waiting for you. So, I set the ingredients at lunch time, and worked the whole afternoon with that feeling of accomplishment and anticipation on the back of my mind. But fate had other plans for us. It turns out that the electricity company stopped by to install a new meter in our backyard, and shut the power off for a little while. We saw them arriving just as we drove away, but did not think much about it. When I arrived home for dinner, the crock pot was off. The meat had stayed inside for 6 long hours, at room temperature. It all went to the trash, even if part of me wanted to cook the heck out of it in a pressure cooker.  I decided safe is better than sorry. We ordered pizza instead. But, undeterred, I bought another piece of meat that same evening, and made this chili next day. It was totally worth it!  I advise you to make it, and if you don’t have a slow-cooker, just use your oven low and slow.

new-mexico-pork-chili

NEW MEXICO PORK CHILE
(inspired by America’s Test Kitchen)

3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoons New Mexico chili powder
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup strong brewed coffee
2 teaspoons instant tapioca
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 to 3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
Salt and pepper to taste
fresh cilantro leaves, minced
zest and juice of half a lime

Lightly spray inside of slow cooker with vegetable oil spray. In a small saucepan, heat the tomato paste, New Mexico chili, oil, and garlic powder until fragrant. Add chicken stock, coffee, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Warm it all together for a minute or so, transfer to slow-cooker. Sprinkle the tapioca, mix to combine.

Season the meat all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the slow cooker, the liquid does not need to cover the meat, just make sure to spoon some of it over the top. Cover and cook for 5 to 6  hours on low. Half an hour before serving, use a fork to cut the very tender meat in chunks, and mix with the sauce. Leave it for 30 minutes, then add cilantro, lime zest and juice right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

crockpot11

Comments: Most recipes for this type of chili recommend using pork shoulder or butt, cuts with a lot of fat in them. You can definitely use either, but the drawback is that cutting the meat into chunks is a bit of a pain. I never think it’s going to be a big deal once I grab the huge bag and place in my grocery cart, but then, the moment I open it and realize the task ahead, a sort of sadness invades me. Followed by the Keep Calm and Carry On stance. America’s Test Kitchen hit gold when they changed the game by using boneless, country-style pork ribs. They are equally marbled with fat, and all the work involved is ripping the plastic cover of the grocery tray. I was a bit skeptical because my experience with this type of meat was less than stellar. More often than not, I ended up with meat a bit dried up and with an odd texture. Not the case. These were melt-in-your-mouth tender, very moist and flavorful. Just the right amount of heat for our taste. The quick cooking tapioca thickens the sauce ever so slightly, but I used a lot less than called for in most recipes. You could omit it, if you don’t mind a bit of a watery sauce.

served

Phil enjoyed the chili over white rice and some Ranch style beans, I opted for cauli-rice and half an avocado, with the mandatory drizzle of lime juice.  The package I bought had three pieces of country-style ribs, a little over 3 pounds total. Leftovers were enough for another full dinner for both of us.

new-mexico-pork-chili-from-bewitching-kitchen

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