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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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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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.

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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.

served11

 

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OUR MEXICAN HOLIDAY DINNER

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had an early Christmas celebration with one of my stepsons.  This year all our holiday meals were decided on a whim, serendipity playing a pretty big role. I happened to catch Marcela’s episode “My Favorite Holiday Dishes“, and while watching it with Phil he suggested we make that full menu for our Christmas dinner. Avocado-Cilantro Mousse, Pork Tenderloin, and Mexican Chocolate Souffle.   You know how we felt about the mousse, so now it’s time to share the recipe for the second course, a pork that ended up moist and tender, surrounded by the sweetness of prunes and pearl onions.

served

ROASTED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PINEAPPLE GLAZE
(from Marcela Valladolid)

for the brine:
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 cups warm water
6 cups cold water
2 pork tenderloins
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for the herb rub:
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
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for the final roasting:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dried prunes, halved
1 pound pearl onions, peeled
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup pineapple juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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For the brine: Combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and 2 cups warm water in a large bowl. Stir until the salt dissolves. Add 6 cups cold water. Add the pork, cover, and refrigerate overnight (the pork should be submerged in the liquid).
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Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.For the herb rub: Mix the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary in a small bowl. Remove the pork from the brine and pat it dry (discard the brine). Spread the herb mixture over the pork loin, making sure you coat all sides of the loin.
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For the pork: Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy saute pan over high heat. Add the pork and sear until browned, 4 minutes. Carefully turn the pork over and sear until browned, another 4 minutes. Meanwhile, add the prunes and pearl onions to a baking dish, creating a bed for the loin. Transfer the seared pork loin to the baking dish (making sure the loin fits in the baking dish, leaving a 1-inch border on every side). Add the wine to the same saute pan used to sear the pork and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove the browned bits, until almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the pineapple juice and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the pork. Season the prunes and onions with salt and pepper.
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Place the pork in the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees F, or to your desired level of roasting. Baste with the pan juices every 20 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Slice the pork into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices and arrange on a platter. Top the pork slices with the pearl onions, prunes, and sauce.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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herbs
Comments:  I loved making this dish, it is perfect for a day spent at home, relaxing, enjoying the aromas and the anticipation of a more elaborate meal to come.  Brining the meat is the way to go when roasting pork loin (or tenderloin), as the delicate meat, so low in fat these days, can dry out in the oven.  I left the tenderloins in the brine from 8am until around 5pm.
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Pork and prunes are a classic combination for good reason! This recipe is not too different from a typical meal served in my family in Brazil during the holidays, except that they like to roast a pork shoulder or butt. We call it “pernil assado“, and prunes or pineapple slices are often part of the sauce.

Leftovers were awesome on day 2 and amazing on day 4, the sauce intensified in flavor, the meat retained its moisture and tenderness. I can tell this recipe will become a regular appearance at our table.  Next time I’ll add some fennel to the bed of prunes and onions, I think its flavor would be great here.

Pork with Prunes in Pineapple Glaze

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