BULGUR PORK TOMATILLO PLATTER

Some call it bowls, but I will go with platter. It is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a meal, all components served together. Not too long ago “sheet dinners” were a thing. It seemed like every popular food blogger was showcasing them. I never joined that party, because I find it hard to perfectly time the cooking of different items on the same sheet pan. You have to do a lot of rearranging and/or adding ingredients in stages. It never appealed to me. But in this preparation, items are cooked each to their optimal stage, and then simply placed together for the finale.

BULGUR PORK TOMATILLO PLATTER
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for pork:
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

for veggies:
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 oz asparagus stalks, cut in pieces
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced thinly
splash of water
salt and pepper to taste

to serve:
1 cup bulgur wheat
tomatillo salsa (store-bought)
blood orange segments (or regular orange)

Marinate the pork. Mix olive oil, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper, emulsify with a whisk. Cover the pork with it and leave for several hours in the fridge. I like to butterfly the pork tenderloin, but you can leave it whole. Grill the pork to your liking, when butterflied I like to grill it for a total of 16-18 minutes. We do not like pork pink in the center, so do as you prefer.

Cook the bulgur in 2 cups slightly salted water, boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until water is absorbed and grain is cooked. Reserve.

Heat the final tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add asparagus, bell pepper, water, salt and pepper. Cover, and cook for 2 minutes, then remove the lid, increase the heat and cook until the bell pepper starts to get some golden color.

Assemble the dish. Place the cooked bulgur on a platter, top with the cooked veggies. Cut slices of the grilled pork and arrange on top. Add orange segments, and drizzle a nice amount of tomatillo salsa all over the dish. You can process the salsa in a small food processor to make it smooth, or use it straight from the bottle.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one delicious meal! I know you can make your own tomatillo sauce from scratch, but we often use bottled and don’t mind it at all. It makes life easier and there is no compromise of flavor. You can use freekeh, quinoa, couscous, in place of the bulgur. Bulgur cooks so fast, it is a great option. The blood orange gives that burst of freshness, and goes perfectly well with the tomatillo salsa. This will be incorporated in our regular rotation, no doubt. I hope you’ll give it a try!

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PORK VINDALOO

If you are not wild about spicy food, I must warn you that this recipe might not please you. However, you will have no issues enjoying the simple side dish I served with it, a fresh corn salad that beautifully tamed the fires of the Vindaloo. This version is considerably simplified from the traditional, but does not cut corners in the flavor department.

PORK VINDALOO
(adapted from several sources)

2 pounds boneless pork butt, cut in 1.5 inch pieces
2 onions, diced (or substitute 2 large stalks of celery + 2 carrots, minced)
4 garlic cloves, minced (omit or use garlic powder if you have digestive issues)
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pan. Add pork pieces, onions (or celery and carrots), garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the meat gets golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the spices and garlic powder (if using), cook for a minute until fragrant, add the flour, cook while stirring for another minute, then add the chicken stock, canned tomatoes, mustard seeds, and sugar. Bring to a simmer. To finish the dish, you have several options:

Crockpot: add vinegar, transfer to a crockpot and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.

Regular oven: add vinegar, place in a 325F oven for 3 hours, covered.

Pressure cooker: add vinegar, bring to full-pressure and cook for 35 minutes. Release pressure manually and simmer down to reduce the sauce, if necessary.

Right before serving, add minced fresh cilantro leaves.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Pork Vindaloo has its origins in Portuguese cooking, a fiery concoction known in Portugal as “vinha d’alhos.” Garlic and onion are important components, but due to food sensitivities I make our vindaloo with no onions and just used some garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon to be precise). The heat of the dish mellowed down next day, but we did not find it excessive even right after cooking. The use of smoked paprika is not authentic, but I like the different flavor it adds to the sauce.

Of all methods of cooking, I favor the pressure cooker because I like the resulting texture and how quickly it all comes together, but the two other methods I listed will work perfectly well.

The side dish: pretty much a non-recipe… Shave kernels from 3 corn cobs, add grape tomatoes cut in half, black kalamata olives, pitted, and English cucumbers, sliced. Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with a little salt and pepper, drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Add the dressing to the veggies, place in the fridge for a couple of hours, then enjoy with your fiery Vindaloo, or with any other main dish of your choice. It is refreshing and satisfying.

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PORK TENDERLOIN WITH APRICOT-MISO GLAZE

My default method of preparation for pork tenderloin is butterflied and grilled. I suppose default means a single entity, so I will break that rule and include a second option: sous-vide. But sometimes you get into a situation that prevents both from happening. It was very nasty outside so grilling would be masochism. And there was not enough time to sous-vide unless we wanted to have dinner at 9pm. Brazilians do that often, but I totally lost that habit and have no interest in re-visiting it. I had to come up with a plan C, and this was the tasty outcome.

PORK TENDERLOIN WITH APRICOT-MISO GLAZE
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
5 tablespoons apricot preserves
1/4 cup red miso
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
2 pork tenderloins
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

Heat oven to 425°F. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with oil spray. Combine preserves, miso, vinegar, orange peel, and garlic in small pot over medium heat. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. If you want to make a smooth sauce, use a handheld mixer or small food processor for a few seconds. Reserve.

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Place on prepared baking sheet, tucking thin end under to ensure even cooking. Brush with 2 tablespoons apricot glaze; roast 12 to 15 minutes. Turn pork over with tongs and brush with 3 more tablespoons glaze. Continue to roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150°F, 10 minutes longer. If you like your pork cooked a bit more (we do), keep cooking and check the internal temperature with a probe thermometer.

Transfer pork to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add chicken broth to remaining apricot glaze. Bring to simmer and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup sauce, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Slice pork crosswise into 1/2- to 3/4- inch-thick slices and arrange on platter. Spoon sauce over and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: There is really nothing special about the handling of the tenderloin, apart from the delicious glaze. Different brands of apricot preserves have different levels of “chunkiness”, I used one with pretty large pieces of apricot and they did not quite melt into the sauce even with heating. So I opted to smooth things out with my blender. You might get by without that step. I only roasted one tenderloin, and had a bit of sauce leftover. It showed up again a couple of evenings later to coat chicken-cashew meatballs. Perfect marriage. Actually I believe this glaze will go well with pretty much any type of protein, including seafood.

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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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