Archive for the 'Pork' Category



Aristà di maiale alla fiorentina (Florentine Roast Pork Tenderloin)

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I regularly run into a bit of a problem: all of the best roast pork recipes call for pork loin. Now, my problem isn’t with pork loin per se but with the fact that there are only two of us. And while I do enjoy leftover pork, I try to keep it to a manageable amount. So I end up either discarding the recipe or adapt it to a smaller piece of pork.

Why such an interest in roast pork? Growing up I didn’t find pork all that tasty. My mom’s pork chops with sauerkraut ended up with pork chops that were more closely related to shoe leather than actual food. And don’t let me talk about how dry they were. It didn’t get particularly better when I started cooking for myself. My pork chops ended up rather dry and flavorless.

My first real introduction to good pork was in college with Dinosaur Barbque’s pulled pork. It was very good but it ended up being more about the sauce than the pork itself. I started making a variation of pulled pork that was good (although it wasn’t authentic; I make mine in a crock pot) but not to die for.

And then I made the Zuni Café House-Cured Pork Tenderloin and I had found nearly the perfect pork. It become the benchmark for all other pork.

And then I managed to successfully adapt this recipe (my first attempt ended up in something edible if not particularly enjoyable). I’m not saying it’s better. The Zuni Café version has a definite porkier taste. This recipe just seems to be in better harmony than the other.

The flavor of the rosemary and garlic are most pronounced but the other seasonings provide pleasant nuances. This may be my new go-to pork recipe.

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Aristà di maiale alla fiorentina (Florentine Roast Pork Tenderloin)
Adapted from Enoteca: Simple, Delicious Recipes in the Italian Wine Bar Tradition

1 lbs. pork tenderloin

Brine:
2 1/2 cups water
6 juniper berries, crushed
3 allspice berries, crushed
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
6 coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 clove of garlic, crushed
3 cloves
2 dried chiles
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt

  1. Place all of the brine ingredients except for the salt and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow the herbs to infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Allow to cool.
  3. Pore the brine over the pork and place in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days.
  4. Remove the pork from the brine and dry with paper towels. Rub the pork with olive oil.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  6. Place an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Brown the pork on all sides.
  7. Place the pork in the oven and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
  8. Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Slice the pork and serve with rosemary potatoes and a Sangiovese wine.

Serves 2-3.

Tortellini Panna e Prosciutto (Tortellini with Cream and Prosciutto)

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In Italy, this was one of my favorite dishes to order. While I had never been to Italy before and I’m not of Italian decent, this was instantly comfort food, even though it was foreign to me. It didn’t hurt that it almost universally good.

The first time I tried my own hand at tortellini panna e prosciutto the tortellini were my undoing. I decided to be a perfectionist and measure the size of each tortellini. It would’ve helped to keep them all the same size if I could cut straight. It ended up taking an inordinate amount of time: I think it took about 2 hours just to form them.

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I would’ve been hesitant to make them again but they’re really good. I’ve managed to get my tortellini making time to about 1 hour but that’s still a significant investment of time and energy.

This is also probably not particularly good for you. The tortellini are filled with cheese. The sauce is similar to alfredo sauce but with prosciutto added. However, I probably burned enough calories making the tortellini.

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I’ve posted instructions for making pasta before. The tortellini recipe I use is basically the same that I use for cheese ravioli but in a different shape. You could also use fresh fettucini in place of the tortellini if you don’t want to invest as much time. It’s also sometimes served with peas (becoming tortellini panna, prosciutto e piselli) if you’d like it with a green vegetable.

I always try and make enough so that I’ll have left-overs for lunch the next day but for some reason we always manage to eat them all.

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Tortellini Panna e Prosciutto (Tortellini with Cream and Prosciutto)

Tortellini:
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tbsp diced Italian parsley
3 eggs
salt and pepper
2 cups all purpose flour

Sauce:
4 tbsp butter
4 oz. prosciutto
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan

  1. In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, and parsley, attempting to break the ricotta into as small pieces as possible. Stir in one egg and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Using the well method, mix the flour with the remaining 2 eggs to form a dough. Knead the dough briefly and then divide it into 4 pieces.
  3. Roll out 1 piece of dough to the thinest setting on a pasta machine. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into approximately 1 1/2″ squares. Discard any dough that is not approximately square. On each square, place about 1/4 tsp of the filling made previously. Fold each square in half by having two opposite corners meet, forming a isosceles triangle. Make sure that the dough forms a good seal. Pull the two corners of the triangle which form the longest side together to form the tortellini. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  4. Cook the tortellini in boiling salted water about 3 minutes or 1 minute after it floats.
  5. Melt the butter for the sauce in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the prosciutto and sauté for about 4 minutes.
  6. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer and allow the cream to reduce. Stir in the parmesan cheese.
  7. When the pasta is done cooking, add the pasta to the sauce and cook for 1 minute more.
  8. Serve with additional grated parmesan.

Serves 2-3.

Zuni Café House-Cured Pork Tenderloin

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I was trying to write a witty and informative story about this dish when I realized that we had actually eaten it over two weeks ago (that’s what we get for going away for the holidays). The main thing that I do remember is that it was good. Really really good.

I’ve begun wondering what pork really tastes like. I’ve suffered through enough bad pork chops to know that it can taste like chewing. And I think I’ve figured out how to make pork taste like something else. Many of the pork dishes I’ve cooked have been quite tasty but they don’t really make me think of pork. I have noticed that the pork flavor in home-cured meats like bacon and pancetta has a more pork flavor to it but I’ve never really achieved that in other pork dishes.

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Until I made this one. I’ve brined pork before and it made it tender and even added flavor with it, but I never was able to make the pork taste porkier. I don’t know what it is about this brine that makes the pork flavor so much more pronounced. My guess is that it’s the length of the brine combined with a weaker brine solution.

This is a fantastically easy recipe. The hardest part is remembering to brine the pork several days in advance. Cooking the pork couldn’t be easier: just sear and then roast in the oven.

It’s not a particularly sexy presentation and it doesn’t use particularly exotic ingredients. It’s just the application of simple ingredients to make a wonderful meal.

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Zuni Café House-Cured Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

1 pork tenderloin, about 1 lbs.
2 bay leaves, crumbled
2 dried chiles
4 crushed juniper berries
2 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt

  1. Place 1 cup of water and the bay leaves, dried chiles, and juniper berries in a sauce pan. Bring the water to a simmer over high heat. Stir and break up the ingredients with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and cover. Allow to infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining water, the sugar, and salt to the aromatic mixture. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Put the pork tenderloin in a large zip-top bag and pour the brine over it. Place in the refrigerator and allow to brine for 2 to 4 days.
  3. Remove the pork tenderloin from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Remove from the brine and pat dry. Rub the pork tenderloin with olive oil.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  5. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet over high-heat. When hot, sear the tenderloin on all three sides. Turn the tenderloin to the fourth side and place the skillet in the oven.
  6. Cook the tenderloin in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 140ºF. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and then remove it from the cast-iron skillet. Wrap the tenderloin in aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Slice the tenderloin into thick slices and serve.

Serves 2 to 3.

Homemade Fresh Bacon

I think I’ve made my love of bacon well known. And after making pancetta, what else could I do but make homemade bacon? I don’t need to bring home the bacon ’cause I made it myself. And, yes, my jokes are that corny in real life.

I actually bought the pork belly on a whim the last time we were at an Asian grocery store. I didn’t initially have any plans for it but Angela pushed for me to make bacon. How can you resist a woman who requests bacon? And, yes, that does make my wife the best ever.

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This bacon is a bit different than what you usually procure in a grocery store. The main difference being that it isn’t smoked. I would smoke the bacon but a second floor apartment doesn’t make that easy.

This is actually a lot easier to make than the pancetta. It doesn’t have the flavoring ingredients that the pancetta does. It also isn’t dried like the pancetta but is instead roasted.

The flavor of the bacon is quite good. The bacon and pork flavors are much more pronounced. It’s almost too much (but isn’t). You’d need to be careful using it in a dish where bacon is only one of many ingredients or the bacon may overwhelm all the others (but maybe that isn’t a bad thing).

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Homemade Fresh Bacon
Adapted from Charcuterie

3 to 5 lbs. pork belly, skin on
45 grams kosher salt
43 grams dextrose
7 grams pink salt

  1. Trim the pork belly to a rectangular shape. Mix the kosher salt, dextrose, and pink salt together on a wide low sided tray. Dredge the pork belly through the salt mixture until it is covered on all sides.
  2. Place the pork belly in a large zip top bag and place in the refrigerator. Let it refrigerate for 7 days, turning it over every other day.
  3. After 7 days, the pork belly should be firm. Remove the pork belly from the zip top bag and rinse it under running water. Dry it with paper towels.
  4. Cook the pork belly in a preheated 200ºF oven on rack over a backing tray until it’s internal temperature reaches 150ºF, about two hours.
  5. Remove the pork belly from the oven. Using a sharp knife, cut off the skin from the pork belly. Allow the pork belly to cool completely.
  6. Cut the pork belly into slices of bacon. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freezer for up to 3 months. To eat, cook like normal bacon (fry or bake).

Makes 2 to 4 lbs. of fresh bacon.

Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin

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I can’t be the only person who has to stop and think every time they see a recipe specifying either pork loin or pork tenderloin. I always have to stop and think which is which. For us, pork tenderloin is just the right size for two people whereas a pork loin is bigger than we could ever conceivably eat.

We eat a lot of pork tenderloin because Angela always asks for it (I think she likes the tenderness). I like pork so I’m pretty happy with it. So I’m always on the lookout for a new method to cook it.

I had purchased San Francisco Flavors from the Barnes & Noble discount shelf when we were in San Francisco. I didn’t know much about it but figured it would, at worst, be provide good memories of the trip. I picked it up while looking for something to make with the pork tenderloin. The ingredients for the Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin looked good so I figured I’d give it a try.

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I had to change the recipe a little bit. I didn’t have any oranges so I substituted lemon zest. I also only had ground cumin so I used that in place of cumin seeds. The only problem I had with the recipe were that it called for twice as long a cooking time as I ended up using. I had put the thermometer in to test it as it hadn’t been working properly before (it was reading 180ºF in the air) and it read 145ºF. I had to use another thermometer to check it as I didn’t believe the first one.

The pork tastes pretty good, particularly if not overcooked. It is, however, quite a bit spicy. Angela cut off the edges of her’s because it was too spicy. If you don’t like it spicy, decrease the amount of red pepper flakes.

Also, Moroccan is hard to spell (one r and two c’s).

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Moroccan-Style Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from San Francisco Flavors

1 1-lbs pork tenderloin
salt and pepper
1 large garlic clove
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 475ºF.
  2. In a small food processor, combine the garlic, lemon zest, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Process until it forms a paste.
  3. Dry the tenderloin with paper towels. Salt and pepper all sides of the pork. Rub the paste on all sides of the pork, as evenly as possible.
  4. Place the pork on a roasting tray and place in the middle of the preheated oven. Cook for 20 minutes or until the pork reaches 145ºF internal temperature. Remove the pork from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Slice the pork and serve with jasmine rice and sautéed spinach.

Serves 2.

Costine al Vino Rosso (Pork Spareribs with Red Wine)

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There’s a regular fight in our house about what to have for dinner. Angela wants me to make something I’ve made before. I find that boring and want to make something new. Sometimes she wins, sometimes I win.

Last night, Angela wanted me to make Slow cooker “BBQ” Spareribs again. I wanted to make something new. This time I won.

Because we don’t have a grill (one of the downsides of apartment living), I decided to indulge my love of braises. And, really, how can pork braised in red wine and tomato sauce be bad?

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And it wasn’t to me. Sadly, Angela didn’t particularly care for it. I’m not entirely sure why. I know she just disliked the taste of the Jerusalem artichokes that I served with it. So, this recipe is not Angela approved (I’m thinking about making a graphic of Angela Approved Seal for recipes she likes; sort of an indicator as to whether or not a picky eater would like it).

As written, the recipe results in ribs that aren’t fall-off-the-bone tender. If I were to make them again, I’d braise them for longer. There’s also no salt involved in the recipe as written. I think Mario Batali was phoning it in on this recipe. I’ve updated the recipe to make it better.

Otherwise, I liked it. There’s room for improvement but it was still tasty.

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Costine al Vino Rosso (Pork Spareribs with Red Wine)
Adapted from Molto Italiano

1 1/2 lbs. pork spare ribs, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, coarsely diced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup basic tomato sauce
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and patted dry
4 sprigs of rosemary
Salt

  1. Place the spareribs in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Drain the spareribs and then rinse them. Season the spareribs with salt
  2. Add the olive oil to a dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is just about smoking. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the dutch oven with the red wine, scrapping up any browned bits. Add the chicken stock, the tomato sauce, and the anchovy fillet. Season the sauce with salt. Add the pork and stir together.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the pork is fork tender. Serve in small bowls.

Serves 2 to 3.

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Basic Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Molto Italiano

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 carrot, finely diced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, diced
1 28-oz. can of whole tomatoes

  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot and thyme and cook until the carrot is soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and the tomato juice to the skillet. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon. Simmer the tomato sauce for 30 minutes. Season the sauce with salt.

Makes 2 cups (yes, that’s twice what you need for above, use the rest for pasta or something).

Homemade Pancetta

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One of my best memories of pancetta is it in a very American context. I had been through a 4 week study abroad in Italy and was then traveling around Europe. My mom had joined me for a week and we were in Riomaggiore in Le Cinque Terre. Staying in a small apartment, we decided to make breakfast for ourselves to save money. The best breakfast I can remember was simply fried eggs with pancetta cooked in a manner similar to bacon. And it’s not that the product was particularly good (it was), but it was simply such a comforting change from the Italian food I’d been eating for months.

I actually tried to recreate that breakfast back at home but the pancetta I got was too salty and was practically inedible. The main problem with pancetta here is just how expensive it is. It’s really hard to justify paying the equivalent of $16 a pound for pork belly (or more!). Trader Joe’s sells it for a fairly reasonable price but, anymore, they only sell the pre-diced version which isn’t bad, it just doesn’t do well for things that requiring stuffing (such as braciale).

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Ever since I bought the cookbook Charcuterie, I had wanted to make pancetta. It’s probably the inner engineer in me, but there’s something particularly exciting about the chemical changes necessary to cure meat. That, and it tastes good (after all, it’s pretty much bacon).

I was particularly proud of making the pancetta. It’s not that it took a lot of work (it just took awhile to cure and then dry). Similar to the bratwurst, it was the act of making something that was far different than I’d ever made before (I act like I was personally changing the chemical bonds to cure the meat).

The recipe is pretty easy as long as you have the proper materials. Measuring by weight is important as otherwise you run the risk of changing the ratio of kosher salt to pink salt. Pink salt is not the pink Himalayan salt but is instead salt with 6.25% sodium nitrate. It’s colored pink so that you don’t mistake it for regular salt (sodium nitrate is toxic in large quantities but the sodium nitrate will chance composition as the meat cures so there’s no risk).

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The drying step is optional but makes for a more authentic product. I used a small refrigerator that I had left over from college for the curing and drying portions as it had plenty of room and my normal refrigerator is pretty full (I also use it to cool down chicken stock and to brine a Thanksgiving turkey).

As for the flavor? It was good. Really good. It was almost so flavorful that it was too flavorful to eat. I can’t wait to try it in Pasta with Corn, Pancetta, and Sage or Spaghetti alla Carbonara (of course if I could find some pork jowl I’d try and make guanciale).

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Homemade Pancetta
Adapted from Charcuterie

One 4-pound (1.8 kg) pork belly, skin removed
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 grams (1.5 tsp) pink salt
35 grams kosher salt
18 grams (1.5 tbsp) dark brown sugar
28 grams (3 tbsp) ground black pepper
7 grams (1.5 tbsp) juniper berries, crushed
3 bay leaves, crumbled
3 grams (.75 tsp) grated nutmeg
3 or 4 sprigs of thyme

  1. Trim the pork belly to be rectangular and remove the skin if present.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the pork belly and half of the black pepper in a bowl. Rub the mixture onto all sides of the pork belly.
  3. Place the pork belly in a large 2-gallon zip top bag and refrigerate for one week, turning over every other day. When the pork belly is done curing, it will be firm in the middle. If it’s not firm, refrigerate for one to two more days.
  4. Remove the pork belly from the zip top bag and rinse under running water thoroughly. Dry completely with paper towels. Spread the remaining black pepper over the meat side of the pork belly. Roll the pork belly tightly (there should be no air pockets) and secure with butcher’s twine. Make sure to loop both around the circumference of the roll and around the length of the roll.
  5. Place the pork belly in a spare refrigerator set to its lowest setting on a middle shelf. Place a tray of water combined with 2 tbsp kosher salt in the bottom. This will allow the pancetta to dry. Leave in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
  6. After drying, the pancetta will keep in a refrigerator for 3 weeks and a freezer for 4 months.

Yields 3 lbs. pancetta

Homemade Bratwurst

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For home cooking, there are a few things that you usually buy pre-made and aren’t really considered convenience foods: bacon, puff pastry, and sausage. Except, I decided that it would be fun to make my own sausage. And that’s when I realized I was a real foodie.

It’s not as if I don’t have access to quality sausage (the local butcher shop makes their own even if they seem to run out of hot Italian sausage before I can ever buy it). It really was a crazy idea.

In my defense, I did get the food grinding and sausage stuffing attachments for “free.” My employer offered a $50 gift certificate for completing a short health survey that I then applied to sausage making equipment.

Bratwurst isn’t the first batch of sausage that I made. That honor would go to garlic sausage that ended up too garlicy and not salty enough. That’s also when we found out that Angela is much better at feeding the meat into the casings than I am (I get to push the meat into the stuffer).

Will had planned an Oktoberfest themed Halloween party and I offered to bring homemade bratwurst. On the Monday before Halloween, Will came over for dinner and documented the process (all images except the top one are Will’s) of sausage making. It’s amazing the number of sexual innuendos you can make when making sausage; particularly when part of the process is done by your wife.

Making sausage is actually pretty easy as long as you have the proper equipment. I use a KitchenAid Mixer with the Food Grinder Attachment and Sausage Stuffer Attachment. The key issue is keeping everything really cold at all times. This is particularly true for the grinding portion or the fat will start to melt and the grinder won’t work anymore (this happened the first time I made sausage; I didn’t have the meat on ice and towards the end the grinding die kept getting gummed up with melted fat).

So how good was the sausage? Good enough that we didn’t remember to take any pictures of the bratwurst when it was cooked. Good enough that all that we cooked was eaten (and we made extra). Good enough that people wanted to take some home with them. Good enough that Angela, who doesn’t particularly like sausage (which means that I’m even crazier for wanting to make sausage), loved it. It was the best sausage I’ve had and that includes some in Germany and Austria.

So, I’ve made sausage and I have some panchetta curing (which is close enough to bacon for me). I suppose I need to make some puff pastry at some point.

Homemade Bratwurst
Adapted from Charcuterie

1350 grams (3 lbs.) boneless pork shoulder butt, cut into 2 inch pieces
450 grams (1 lb.) boneless veal shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces (or substitute 1 lb. ground veal)
450 grams (1 lb.) pork belly, skinless, cut into 2 inch pieces
40 grams (1 1/2 oz.) kosher salt
6 grams (2 tsp) ground white pepper
5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) ground ginger
5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) grated nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten, very cold
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
10 feet hog casings

  1. Combine all ingredients except eggs, cream, and casings in a large bowl. Toss to distribute the seasonings evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Place the hog casings in a bowl of water and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Several hours before grinding, place the food grinder, mixer bowl, paddle attachment, and any other attachments in the freezer.
  4. Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and place in a bowl of ice and salt. Grind the mixture through the small die into the mixer bowl set in a bowl of ice and salt.
  5. Beat the mixture with the paddle attachment on low speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs and cream and increase speed to medium. Mix until the mixture is uniform. Refrigerate the bowl until ready to stuff.
  6. Sauté a small portion of the sausage in a small bit of oil and taste for seasoning.
  7. Remove the hog casings from the refrigerator and rinse both the inside and outside of the casings in running water.
  8. Setup the sausage stuffer using the largest stuffing attachment. Place meat in the sausage stuffer and turn on to low speed until the meat is just at the end of the attachment. Slide the opening in the casing onto the stuffer and then push the remaining casing onto the stuffer until there is about an inch hanging off. Tie off the end of the casings. Slowly push the meat mixture into the sausage stuffer while holding the casing and letting the meat fill it (this is a two person job). The speed is determined by the speed of the meat being putting into the stuffer not the speed of the mixer. When there is no more casing, tie it off and repeat this step with the remaining casing.
  9. Twist the sausage into 6 inch long segments and cut with shears.
  10. Cook the sausage to an internal temperature of 150ºF.

Makes 5 lbs. of sausage.

Cornmeal Herb Pork Tenderloin

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I think that the pig, in the words of Homer Simpson, is a “wonderful, magical animal.” What else could produce such variety as bacon, ham, and pork chops. Getting the best out of most cuts of pork requires lots of time; whether curing, smoking, or just a simple braise.

Unfortunately, most days I don’t have that kind of time (sadly, my employer seems to prefer it when I actually go to work during the day; who knew). So every once in awhile we buy a pork tenderloin. It’s not the most flavorful cut but it cooks quickly and doesn’t get that tough (for some reason, Angela really likes her meat tender).

Pork tenderloin (I always have to look twice at recipes and make sure I’m not mistaking pork loin for pork tenderloin) doesn’t stand well on its own. By that, I mean that it’s similar to something like a chicken breast: you don’t want just a chicken breast as it’s fairly bland; you need to add something to it. Because of this, I’m always looking for good pork tenderloin recipes.

This recipe seemed to work particularly well for the pork. The herbs add good flavor but don’t totally overpower the porkyness. The cornmeal works well as a binder and adds good texture. The only problem with the original was that I don’t own a grill (despite the near year-round grilling whether here in Southern California, I have no where to put a grill), so I had to adapt it to oven cooking.

I also ended up changing the herb mixture a bit as I didn’t have any fresh rosemary. I could’ve used dried but something about the recipe screams for fresh herbs to me. While it’s fall now, I think there’s something spring-like about an herb crusted meal (particularly if it were to actually be grilled).

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Cornmeal Herb Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from Apartment Therapy
1 1-lbs pork tenderloin
1/2 cup Italian parsley
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
5 sage leaves
4 sprigs of tarragon, leaves only
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the parsley, thyme, sage, tarragon, and garlic cloves in a food processor. Pulse to combine. In a bowl, mix together the herbs and the cornmeal. Slowly add 1 tbsp of the olive oil and mix to combine.
  3. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Rub the cornmeal mixture over the pork tenderloin.
  4. Put the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, brown the tenderloin on three sides.
  5. After browned on three sides, turn the tenderloin to the fourth side and place in the oven. Cook until the tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 135°F, approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Serves 2 to 3.

 

Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers

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About once a year, Costco has a coupon that makes a family pack of pork chops extremely affordable. With a reluctant Angela in tow, I buy a package. These pork chops are pretty big: I usually cut them in half as we really don’t need that much protein. So I use one or maybe two of them and then freeze the rest. We then proceed to eat a pork chop ever month or so for the rest of the year. I think I need to stop buying large quantities of pork chops.

I decided that we really need to finish up the pork chops we had (the date on the package said January but I tried to ignore that; I think there’s one more thats left). We could use the room in the freezer and they are coming up to their anniversary in there. Angela wasn’t particularly enthused about the idea (she’s not a big fan of pork chops because they have a tendency to be a bit tough) which is why we don’t eat them very often (see the about page).

The real question when pulling something out of the freezer (particularly when it’s something that I don’t cook particularly often) is how to prepare it. I’ve made enough bad pork chops in my life (they have to be one of the easiest things to overcook) to know that this is a delicate question.

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I settled on a recipe from Mario Batali because, well, I had just gotten his cookbook (we had a 50% off coupon from Barnes & Noble) and it looked reasonably good. It also happened to fit into things we just happened to have (well, with some modifications): pork chops, peppers, leftover white wine, and pearl onions. Now, the original recipe called for bell peppers but I only had an Italian frying pepper. It also called for “bulb onions” which I’m guessing are just fresh pearl onions with their stems attached. It also called for olives which I don’t like (I’ve tried several but haven’t come up with any I don’t spit out; I really want to like them; what’s a good “starter” olive?) so I left them out.

The original recipe called for a lot more red pepper flakes than I’ve listed here. The dish was hot. Very hot. Almost too hot to eat. It also repeated the pepper spray incident but to a lesser extent (Angela’s words: “Did you create pepper spray again?”).

This is one of the better recipes for pork chops I’ve had. Surprisingly, they weren’t over-brined (which I was afraid of given the length of time they are brined for). The peppers and onions also worked well with the pork chops. The sauce reminded me a bit of an Asian style stir-fry sauce. It might have been the red pepper. Sadly the potatoes were overpowered in taste by the pork chops. I also think the potatoes weren’t that good (but they were pretty).

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Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers (Cotolette alla Zingara)
Adapted from Molto Italiano

5 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 pork chops
salt and black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Italian frying pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into thin slices
4 pearl onions, peeled and sliced into rings
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp capers with brine
1/2 cup dry white wine

  1. Combine 1 cup of water, the kosher salt, the brown sugar, the peppercorns, and the bay leaf in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to desolve the brine ingredients. Pour the brine into a bowl and add the remaining 4 cups of water. Place the pork chops in the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Dry the pork chops with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour.
  3. Over high heat, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the pork chops in the oil, about 7 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the other. Remove the pork chops to a plate.
  4. Add the onions, peppers, red pepper flakes, and capers to the skillet. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Deglaze with the wine, scrapping up all the brown bits.
  5. Add the pork chops back to the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes or until the pork reaches 135°F (mine cooked past this point but we’re still good).
  6. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve covered with the sauce.

Serves 2.


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