It’s hard for me to pay attention to much else but the Olympics this week. I simply love it, plain and simple. The Olympics embody everything great about competition. There are very few things that can bring me to tears, but I find myself on the edge when I see the passion displayed in the faces of the competitors. The athletes sacrifice so much to be the best, not okay, not second, not I did my best, not I will try harder next time, but THE BEST!
If I didn’t have to work I could probably watch them non-stop. In fact it is our plan to travel to Canada in two years to see the Winter Olympics. Now I just need to start saving. I hear the biggest expense is the lodging. If anyone has any pointers or tips please pass them along.
I did have tickets to the games in Salt Lake City, but at the time I was single and couldn’t find anyone who could take time off work so I sold the tickets on eBay. Looking back I wish I would have gone by myself because at the time I had the resources. Those were the days of Internet startups, stock options and retention bonuses and I was right in the middle of the fun. Somehow the market fell apart and retiring for good at 33 was just a dream. Oh well!
So back to the present, however painful at times. Hahaha! I’m watching the womans gymnastics team perform right now, so let’s get directly to the recipe so I can focus my full attention on the TV.
The recipe was inspired by the Niman Ranch Cookbook. This is the same cookbook I turned to for the Tri Tip with Black Olive Aoili which I made last month. I spied the recipe a few months ago but I haven’t been in the mood for pork. I love beef, chicken and turkey, but I’m a bit more picky on the pork side of things. Fortunately I know this is because I haven’t found the right recipes and techniques so I expect my preferences to change as I figure this pork thing out.
I do love baby back ribs, BACON of course and a good slow-cooked boston butt pulled and slathered in sauce, but chops and tenderloin have never been on the top of my list.
With that said I was in search of something that would change my mind when I decided to make this recipe. It also included some new methods/techniques which is important to one who is always looking to learn. I have braised and roasted pork tenderloin before, but I have never made a romesco sauce or fried bread in olive oil to make garlic toast.
The garlic toast was great. Not low calorie mind you, but with the Olympics on, who has time to work out and if I don’t work out, I don’t pay attention to calories. The romesco sauce was great. It had earthy undertones along with a complex texture. The deep flavor of the hazelnuts, sweetness from the tomato and peppers followed by the slight shock of garlic and chile. Perfect!
It passed both of our family tests. Nancy was impressed and said she loved it. More surprising was that both boys went back for seconds. When they came to the table the look on their face told a story of skepticism. Jacob took a less-then-pea-sized portion of the romesco and with some caution tasted it. I just sat back and watched without saying a word. The small portion turned into a thickly covered piece of toast and then another. Randy followed suit.
Roasted Pork Lion with Romesco Sauce on Garlic Toast
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 2 red bell peppers
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- Kosher salt and freshly grounded black pepper
- 1 boneless port tenderloin, appx. 1.5 pounds
- 6 sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained, reserve 1/4 cup of oil
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 1 or 2 chipotle chile in adobo sacue, chopped
- 3 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 handfuls arugula, tough stems removed
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 slices of dense, thick bread, at least 1/2 inch thick
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and trimmed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven for approximately 12 minutes or until golden. Let cool, but not completely. Transfer the hazelnuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously between your palms to remove as much of the skin as possible. Set hazelnuts aside.
Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Put the bell peppers on the baking sheet, place in oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until skin darkens and blisters. Remove from oven, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10 minutes.
While bell pepper is preparing to have its skin removed you can work on your rub. Combine the parsley, fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and mix with your fingers. Rub mixture evenly over the tenderloin. Place tenderloin in the center of a roasting pan.
Roast for 15 minutes at 450 degrees and then turn down the oven to 350 degrees and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil.
While the pork is in the oven you can make both the romesco sauce and the garlic toast.
Peel off the blistered skin from the bell peppers and discard the stems and seeds. Place the hazelnuts a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the sundried tomatoes and puree until smooth. Add the bell peppers next and puree again until smooth. Add the cilantro, garlic, chili, 2 teaspoons of the sherry vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse to combine.
Combine the 1/4 cup of olive oil and sundried tomato oil you set aside early. With the processor running, slowly in a stead stream add the oil until fully incorporated. Transfer to bowl suitable for serving.
Put arugula in a bowl, add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Toss to coat evenly and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now hurry up and make the garlic toast. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When nearly smoking add the bread a few slices at a time. Cook turning once, for about 1 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides. Rub one side with the cut sides of the garlic clove.
Cut the pork into 1/4-inch thick slices. Spread equal amounts of the sauce over each toast. Top with a few arugula leaves and 2 slices of pork. Devour!
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