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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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.

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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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SPINACH AND MUSHROOM STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN

The pi day last week made me realize that for a blog that is almost 6 years old, I have very few pies to share. Not the type of stuff we make that often, and of course, it reflects on their limited presence in the site. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have pork tenderloin, by far one of the types of meat I make the most. This version is a little more dressed-up than usual, and perfect for a weekend dinner. The recipe comes from Fine Cooking magazine, and for those who care to know nutritional details, it is Paleo-friendly (if you omit the cream sauce) and low-carb. It is also elegant, and flavorful, which is what really matters 😉

StuffedPorkTenderloinSPINACH AND MUSHROOM STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN
(slightly modified from Fine Cooking)

5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3-1/2 oz. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. baby spinach (5 lightly packed cups)
1 large pork tenderloin (about 1-1/4 lb.)
zest of one large lemon
2 tsp of lemon juice
1 large shallot, finely diced
3/4 cup low-salt canned chicken broth
2-1/2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
2 Tbs. heavy cream

Set a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a heavy, ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until browned and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and cook, tossing well with tongs, until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a colander and set the skillet aside.

Butterfly the tenderloin by making a horizontal slice lengthwise through the meat almost all the way to the other side. Open the meat flat, like a book. Cover with plastic wrap, and using a meat mallet, a small, heavy skillet, or the heel of your hand, lightly pound the pork so that it’s 1/4 inch thick. Rub the pork all over with 1 Tbs. of the oil, the lemon juice, and sprinkle all over the zest of the lemon and about 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper.

Squeeze any excess liquid from the spinach and mushrooms. Spread over the pork, leaving bare a 2-inch border along one long edge. Starting with the long side that’s covered with filling, roll the stuffed tenderloin toward the bare-border side so that it forms a cylinder, and tie it with kitchen twine.

Wipe the skillet clean if necessary. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Sear the pork on all three non-seam sides until well browned, about 6 minutes total. Flip onto the seam side, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 140ºF, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer the meat to a clean cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, return the skillet to the stove over medium-high heat (be careful; the skillet’s handle will be hot). Add the shallots, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring, until the shallots soften and brown, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, sherry vinegar, and simmer briskly until the mixture reduces by a bit more than half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve with the sauce.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: The only problem when cooking pork tenderloin is the delicate nature of this meat, and its tendency to dry during roasting because it has such low-fat content. By filling it with the sautéed mixture of veggies, you won’t run such risk.  I prepared the filling, rolled the meat, wrapped it in plastic and left it in the fridge for several hours, then finished it all up for our dinner on a Saturday evening, back in January.

You can serve it with any type of starchy side you’d like, pasta, rice, mashed root veggies, but in this particular dinner I went with a much lighter option, and enjoyed it with a side of grated carrots lightly seasoned with lemon juice & olive oil.  I like to keep it in the fridge for an hour or so, then add salt and pepper right before serving. It is amazing what a touch of lemon juice can do to grated carrots.  I first read about it on Leite’s Culinaria, after a tip from our friend Cindy. Try it sometime, nothing could be simpler, but you’ll find yourself making it again and again.

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PORK TENDERLOIN ADOBADO

One of the cuts of meat that is always present in our weekly rotation is pork tenderloin, because it cooks fast and goes well with many types of seasonings. For that reason, I am always searching for new ways to prepare it. I found this recipe through a Google search, decided to give it a try without any  intention of blogging about it. Sometimes it’s nice to simply cook and eat dinner like normal people do. You know, without the need to scream at your partner “DO NOT DARE TOUCHING IT, I HAVE TO TAKE A PICTURE!”. It does get old after a while. So, I sliced the meat, served it, and Phil, very surprised asked me “You won’t be blogging about this?”.  No, I’ll let this one slide by.  Then, he took a first bite, and told me “Sally, this has got to be in the blog, it’s very good!”.   I had to agree, it turned out super tasty, and deserves to be shared with my readers. A picture was quickly snapped,  and we moved on with our dinner.

PorkAdobado

PORK ADOBADO
(adapted from Elly Says Opa)

1 Tbsp. grape seed oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup ancho chile powder
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup water
1 pork tenderloin, around 1.25 lb, butterflied

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the chile powder, vinegar, oregano, sugar, salt, and water. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until flavors are combined. Let cool to room temperature (or, if making ahead, refrigerate). Set aside about 1/4 of the marinade.

Place the remaining marinade and the pork tenderloin in a shallow bowl or resealable bag, making sure to coat the pork with the marinade. Marinate for several hours or overnight.

Sprinkle a little extra salt on the tenderloin. Grill to your desired degree of doneness, brushing with the reserved marinade half way through cooking. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you want to learn more about the concept of “carne adobada” in Mexican cooking, Wikipedia is waiting for you with a click here. This preparation ends up with a subtle heat, and the acidity of the vinegar brightens up the flavors. Very nice take on pork tenderloin, which should work equally well on boneless chicken breasts. You can cook the pork on a cast iron pan and finish it in the oven, or use any type of preparation you are comfortable with.  I always butterfly it to speed up cooking, but the original recipe did not call for it.

As I mentioned many times, we grill 12 months of the year. Phil grew up in Michigan and a little snow (less than 3 feet, that is) doesn’t scare him.  Me?  I inform that we will be grilling, which means “Darling, you light the grill, monitor the cooking, and bring it all back to the warmth of our home once it’s done”.  Sometimes I amaze myself at my efficiency.

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GREEN CURRY PORK TENDERLOIN

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If you are like me, when you think about curry you’ll imagine pieces of meat or veggies swimming in a spicy sauce.  This is not it. The pork tenderloin is marinated in a flavorful orange-soy mixture, then grilled.  The curry sauce is spooned over it, and to add another layer of flavor and texture pumpkin seeds are sprinkled on top.  This was one of those dinners that surpassed my expectations.  We could celebrate a Wednesday with it, but instead it opened our week to a good start: we enjoyed it for dinner after a very busy Monday.

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GREEN CURRY PORK TENDERLOIN
(slightly modified from Bon Appetit, May 2013)

for pork marinade:
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 pork tenderloin, butterflied

for pumpkin seeds:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Kosher salt

for curry sauce:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 small shallot, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons green Thai curry paste
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (I used light)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Combine soy sauce, orange juice, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add pork and seal bag. Chill, turning occasionally, at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast, shaking pan often, until seeds are brown, about 4 minutes. Add cumin seeds, then gradually add sugar, then lime juice, tossing constantly to coat seeds with melted sugar and juice. Transfer pumpkin seed mixture to a foil-lined baking sheet; spread out and let cool. Season with salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add curry paste and lime zest and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add coconut milk and bring just to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Transfer coconut milk mixture to a blender. Add cilantro, lime juice, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons water and blend until smooth. With motor running, drizzle in remaining 2 tablespoons oil and blend until creamy. Season curry sauce with salt and pepper, return to pan, and cover to keep warm.

Remove pork from marinade; pat dry. Grill pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 140°.  Let rest 10 minutes. Slice pork and serve with curry sauce and cumin-spiced pumpkin seeds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  At first this recipe seems doable on a weeknight.  But I will be honest with you: when we come home from work I want dinner preparation to be as simple and painless as possible. The idea of making a sauce that involves grabbing (and later washing) the blender, toasting the pumpkin seeds, assembling everything AND thinking about a side dish to go with it leaves me searching for another recipe right away…  😉   So, I made all the components on a Sunday afternoon, no hurries, not pressure. The pumpkin seeds went into the pantry, the sauce in the fridge. The pork went to sleep in the marinade.    Next day I cooked some white rice, sliced juicy heirloom tomatoes, sprinkled them with Maldon salt and balsamic vinegar, a tiny little drizzle of olive oil.   Grilled the pork, warmed the sauce, and felt like a Kitchen Goddess.

Side note: these pumpkin seeds are excellent to snack on, the recipe makes more than you’ll need and that is a good thing!  😉

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CIDER-MARINATED PORK KEBABS

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I’ve been on an apple cider kick, as this region of the US brags the right to make top quality cider.  One sip of  this brand  was all it took me to become addicted. Phil and I always buy a huge bottle and before it gets half-empty, we get another one, just to be on the safe side.  We keep wondering for how long cider will be available at our grocery stores, and hope the feast won’t end anytime soon.  So far, so good.  I used some of this wonderful apple cider in a marinade for pork tenderloin.  Coupled with a few spices that seemed right to play with the cider, voila’: a very simple and tasty main dish was served!

CIDER-MARINATED PORK KEBABS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 pork tenderloin filets
1/2 cup apple cider
1/8 cup olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbs agave nectar
1 tsp fennel pollen
1/2 tsp pimente d’Espelette
salt to taste

Remove the silver skin of the pork tenderloin, and cut the meat in large cubes.  Make a marinade by whisking all ingredients (except salt) until fully combined.   Place the pieces of pork in a large bowl and add the marinade, coating all pieces well with it.   Leave it in the fridge, covered, for a few hours or overnight.

Remove the meat from the marinade, thread it into skewers (if using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for a few hours). Season with salt, and grill to your liking, turning the skewers once during grilling.

Serve with slices of lemon to squeeze over the meat.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

At first, my idea was to include a fennel bulb and a red bell pepper that were laying in the fridge to make a more colorful kebab with the pork.  But, the day was long, and the patience was short.  I kept it ultra simple and the meat went to the grill all by itself.   Still, this was a great weeknight dinner!  The meat was juicy and the addition of agave nectar gave that extra dark grill mark that I find a must…   We had the pork with a little orzo and green beans, simple and delicious.   Leftovers were still quite juicy next day, even when subjected to microwave torture.

Of course, I think fresh slices of fennel would be perfect in these kebabs, echoing the fennel pollen in the marinade, so if your day is shorter and the patience longer, go for it!  😉

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