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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PECAN CRUSTED CHICKEN FROM SOUTHERN AT HEART

Some recipes sound quite tasty but disappoint when you make them.  Not this one. Tasted as good as it sounded…  Funny thing is, I wasn’t sure it would be a winner because chicken breasts can be a bit tricky when baked.  However,  the meat was tender and moist, it looked pretty nice when sliced, and I heard “this is really good” several times during our Sunday dinner. It is a bit involved to make on weeknights, but I guess one could spread the preparation, assembling the “roulades” the evening before and keeping them in the fridge without the pecan coating. Next evening, all that’s left to do is coat the meat with crumbs and bake. The recipe comes from Damaris Phillips show on FoodTV, Southern at Heart.  I find her delightful, upbeat and funny. Even though for the most part her style of cooking is a bit too heavy for my taste, every once in a while I find something that calls my name. Like this chicken. Flavorful and quite elegant to boot.

Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts

PECAN CRUSTED STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS
(adapted from Damaris Phillips)

Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 eggs
2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
2/3 cup ground pecans
Coconut oil spray

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4-inch thick. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle the goat cheese lengthwise on one half of each breast; then sprinkle with dill, and orange zest.  Fold in the short ends as if folding a Mexican burrito, then, starting on the half with cheese, roll up into a tight cylinder. Close the seams with toothpicks or tie with kitchen twine.

Whisk the eggs in a wide, shallow dish with 1 tablespoon water. In a separate dish, combine the breadcrumbs and ground pecans. Sprinkle the stuffed chicken with salt and pepper. Dip in the egg mixture and then in the breadcrumb mixture; shake off excess breading.

Place the breaded chicken on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and spray with coconut oil. Bake to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the toothpicks. Cut in slices and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

chickencomp

Comments: I know that goat cheese and dill are a match made in heaven, but you know what made this dish a real winner? The orange zest. In fact, the sweet citric flavor was even more intense two days later when we had leftovers for dinner. I served it with butternut squash “noodles” and asparagus, but of course the chicken would go well with many different side dishes. For instance, Damaris paired it with a Southern risotto, very hearty.

This recipe would be great for a dinner party, as you can prepare it all in advance and place the meat in the oven half an hour before you want to sit down for dinner. Keep in mind not to over-process the pecans, so that you get a bit more crunch on the topping.  In typical Sally mode, I totally forgot that I have some pecan flour in the freezer. I bet it would be great to use maybe 50-50 with the bread crumbs, intensifying the pecan flavor.  Something to consider for next time…

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MAPLE PUMPKIN PECAN SNACKING CAKE

SOMEONE TURNS SEVENTEEN TODAY!

Happy Birthday, Chief! You’ll always be a puppy for us…

ChiefNewBed
Birthday requires cake. Obviously.

The other day I saw a compilation of cakes by Food & Wine, a sort of  “bucket list of cakes.” You can check it out here. According to the article, if you bake one of those cakes each month, at the end of the year you will become a very accomplished baker, mastering all techniques that matter.  Danger attracts me, because I was immediately mesmerized by the list and next think I knew, the first one was in the oven. No idea what makes it a “snacking cake” but the name has a good vibe. Plus, it mixes two flavors I love, maple and pumpkin. I am not too wild about pecans, but it’s always good to have an excuse to crack open that bag hibernating in the freezer.  This cake is incredibly easy to make, smells amazing, and everyone raved about it.  Now, before  you get too excited: NO, I am not baking the other 11 cakes.  And YES, this is my final answer.

Snacking Cake

MAPLE PUMPKIN PECAN SNACKING CAKE
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 ounces pecans (about 1 to 1 + 1/3 cups)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons demerara sugar for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 325° and grease an 8-inch square cake pan,

In a medium bowl, whisk together the two types of flour, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toast the pecans until fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Transfer half of the nuts to a small food processor and pulse until a coarsely ground flour forms. Roughly chop the remaining pecans over a cutting board into small-sized pieces. Add both the pecan meal and loosely chopped pieces to the bowl of dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract until very smooth. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until incorporated. Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth out the surface of the cake batter with the spatula and sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the top. Bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be crispy from the scattered sugar-coating.

Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositesnack

 

Comments: The cake is baked in an 8-inch square pan, so it is reasonably small. Food and Wine lists 8 servings, but I cut it into 20 small squares so that more colleagues could be happy in a cold and foggy Monday morning.  Perfect antidote for that type of day, if you ask me.  What I loved the most about it was the crust that the demerara sugar formed while baking. Delicious contrast with the brownie-type cake underneath.  Notice the lack of leavening agents, the cake is pretty similar to a one-pan brownie, easy and straightforward. Pecans were perfect, but I bet walnuts would work equally well.

Cake number one was pretty painless, I must admit. I like to leave the game while I’m winning, so I’ll stop right here. Although a certain gentleman is lobbying quite heavily for a particular six-layer coconut nightmare. Yeah, when pigs fly over Kansas wearing pink tutus.

molly-in-tutu

Hi, my name is Molly Merlot, I am awfully cute, but I promise you, I don’t fly!

(photo published with permission from Wilson Creek Winery)

 

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