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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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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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!

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😉

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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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