Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Food Mid-May 2009: Pork Tenderloin
True story - a couple for whom I have much admiration have driven each other to destruction over pork. She was a European eater and he was eating pork five times a week when they moved in together. Several pounds later, she was forced onto a raw food diet to compensate. It's an old story: what's good for you isn't delicious and what's delicious isn't good for you - POPPYKOSH! In the great peace between the healthy eater and the pork lover, the treaty was signed at pork tenderloin. Either grilled or roasted, it is juicy and tasty and at only 160 calories and 6 grams of unsaturated fat in 4 oz. of a plain, trimmed, roasted pork tenderloin, it can be a healthy source of protein. So why so overlooked? With a sister like bacon and a brother like baby back ribs, its easy to become the red-headed step-child in this family. Here are some great recipes for when you have time and when you don't, for you and for the kids, for when you want simplicity and when you want gourmet. In addition to the nutritional positives, in this economy its worth noting that pork tenderloin is a reasonably priced meat as a main course. The only note of caution with pork is that undercooked pork is not safe - but serving overcooked pork to a hungry clan or a table of foodies is even more dangerous, so please use your meat thermometer and measure often until you get the feel for it.
Figs and Pork Tenderloin
I know what your thinking, but its not just because I'm obsessed with figs - this is truly delicious and where you can buy Stonewall Kitchen, easy.
1 lb. pork tenderloin
1/4 cup Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce by Stonewall Kitchen
or 1/2 cup homemade Vidala Apple Fig Jam (see below)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
pinch of salt
Clean the meat, trimming any fat off the tenderloin. Lightly salt the loin and coat in the homemade jam or Stonewall Kitchen sauce. Let sit for at least 30 minutes but even better if you marinade in the morning before you leave for the day. Preheat oven to 425. Coat a portion of the roasting pan in the oil and place the tenderloin and sauce on top of that area. Place the pork in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 400 and cook to your liking using a digital read meat thermometer. ( I like 145 -150 degrees which is a little med-rare and typically takes about 20 minutes total). Figure that 1 lb. will serve 4 adults a healthy portion, but if you want generous portions, go for a 1.25 lb. tenderloin which will take slightly more time. If you are serving for a dinner party, you can easily cook two side-by-side.
You can also grill this tenderloin in a similar fashion. Preheat the grill to hot and sear each side, about 2 minutes per side, before turning the heat down to medium-low and pulling the cover down. Again, grilling time varies on the size of the meat and the heat of your grill. To keep it healthy, avoid charring the meat when you sear it by reducing the amount of time it is on high heat. The grilling works best with the Stonewall Kitchen sauce as the homemade version is more of a jam than a sauce.
To serve, slice the meat on the bias. Serve with couscous. Also delicious with this dish is wilted kale, steamed with crushed garlic in the water and topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of a lemon wedge. If you are using the homemade fig jam, you will be using more because it has loads of lumpy yummy stuff - make sure to serve some homemade jam on top or on the side. For a fun light dinner, serve over baby spinach as a salad with sliced apples, walnuts and feta cheese dressing with olive oil and the jam syrup.
Vidalia Apple Fig Jam
This creation pulls from the flavors of the Stonewall Kitchen sauce but is inspired by Todd English's famous fig jam. (Not surprisingly, "The Figs Table," his second cookbook is one of my favorites, see http://www.toddenglish.com/ for purchase. )
1 crisp apple (FUJI), cored and small diced
1/2 large vidalia onion, peeled and small diced
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary minced
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup dried mission figs, measured first then quartered
In a saucepan on med-high, heat oil, adding onions and pinch of salt and stirring for about 3 minutes. Pour the red wine in to deglaze (rub the bottom of the pan to get all the juicy onion bits mixed in). Let reduce in half, add the chicken broth and vinegar and reduce again in half. Add the sugar and lower the heat until it is melted into the sauce (about 3 minutes). Add the rosemary, mustard, figs and apples and cook on a simmer, stirring frequently for 15 - 20 minutes until the sauce slowly drops from the spoon like a loose syrup (should still be a bit runny). Let cool before using as a marinade and can be made 4 days in advance. I like the reserve a portion of this for serving on the side of a roast - looks great, tastes great.
Mediterranean Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
This recipe is an adaptation of the Eating Well Spanish Style Pork Tenderloin recipe in the November 1991 magazine. I have changed some details including substituting spinach for Kale (to make it more palatable at a dinner party) and cranberries for currants - I find them to be more sweet and flavorful.
2 12-14 oz. pork tenderloins
3 cups raw spinach, blanched to a wilt
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cranberries, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon oregano, fresh chopped finely
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Combine chopped toasted pine nuts, chopped cranberries, chopped oregano, cheese, and 2 tablespoon olive oil and crush and stir with a wooden spoon. Set aside.
Prepare the tenderloins, wash and butterfly: Make a lengthwise cut in the tenderloin through the center of the meat but not all the way through so that you can open the meat like a book. Cover with wax or parchment paper and pound with a meat pounder (or if you do not have one, borrow a mallet from the garage) until the meat is at a 1/4 inch thickness (like the thickness of a pencil). Laying them flat, place down a layer of spinach and an overlapping layer of the nuts and cranberry mixture, spreading evenly. Roll the tenderloin back together and tie in three places with kitchen twine. Sprinkle the rest of the salt and some pepper, and a little bit leftover of the Parmesan cheese on the top of the loins.
Place the remaining olive oil in an oven safe pan on medium-high heat. When the oil is starting to get hot (becomes thinner and more shimmery), put the tenderloins in, searing on both sides (roughly 2-3 minutes each side). Turn off heat and place the pan in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes - using a meat thermometer to measure 145 to 150 degrees. (Make sure you are measuring in the meat not the stuffing.)
Serve sliced with mashed or roasted potatoes and greens.
Pork Tenderloin for the Kids
Once you have mastered the tenderloin roast, as seen in the first recipe, it is much the same with different marinades. Here are some combinations that I have tried that work well for the kids:
Honey-Mustard Pork Tenderloin: 4 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon country mustard (Dijon is usually too spicy for the kids)
Apple Maple Pork Tenderloin: 1 tablespoon applesauce mixed with 3 tablespoons maples syrup. Let the kids make this with you and use a kitchen brush to paint it on.
Sweet and Sour Pork Tenderloin: 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/4 cup apricot jam.