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Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category

Perfect, Yum, Right on. HOT, maybe use less chili if you don’t like some pretty good heat.  I made this a few weeks back and loved the technique for cooking the tenderloins. I’ve used it again with other spices this past week.

Spicy Chipotle Pork Tacos with Sun-Dried Tomato Salsa
Recipe by Rick Bayless

  • 2 (about 1 pound total) pork tenderloins (from free-range pigs please)
  • 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles en adobo
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup (about 2 ounces) sun-dried tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped (a generous 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • About 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, rich-tasting pork lard or bacon drippings
  • 12 fresh, warm corn tortillas (reheat store-bought ones or make them from scratch)

Butterflying and marinating the pork: Lay 1 tenderloin on your cutting board and cut it in half. Now, with a sharp knife, make a horizontal cut through 1 half (you’ll be cutting parallel with the board) from one long side to within 1/4- inch of the other. This will allow you to fold open the meat like a book, utilizing that 1/4-inch uncut side as a hinge. Using a meat pounder or heavy mallet, pound the pork to between 1/4 to 1/8-inch thickness. In a food processor or blender, thoroughly puree the chipotles and all the canning sauce. With a pastry or basting brush, liberally paint the meat on both sides with the pureed chipotles. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours). Repeat with the other tenderloin pieces. (There will be considerably more chipotle puree than you need; cover and refrigerate the leftover for up to 2 weeks and use it to marinate other meat, fish, poultry or vegetables.)

Soaking the sun-dried tomatoes: In a small saucepan bring the orange juice just to a boil. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, stir well, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand, stirring once or twice, until softened, about 20 minutes. Salsa: Scrape the soaked tomatoes and the juice into a food processor or blender, and measure in 1 tablespoon of chipotle puree. Pulse the processor until the tomatoes are rather finely chopped (not pureed). Scrape into a small serving bowl. Rinse the chopped onion under cold water, shake off the excess liquid and add it to the salsa along with the olives, cilantro and the lime juice. Stir everything together, then taste and season with salt, usually about 1/4 teaspoon. Adjust the consistency to that of an easily spoonable salsa with additional juice or water if needed. Set aside at room temperature while you cook the meat.

Searing the meat: Set a large (12-inch) heavy well-seasoned or non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Add the lard, oil or bacon drippings, brushing or spreading it around to evenly coat the surface. (If using a non-stick surface, oil the meat instead of the pan.) When the oil is very hot (it’ll just begin to smoke), lay on one of the marinated meat pieces in a single layer. Sear on one side until beginning to brown (2 to 3 minutes), flip it over, and sear the other side about 1 1/2 minutes. You are looking for at least 145 internal temp. Transfer to a baking sheet in a single layer and keep warm in the oven. Sear the remaining meat and add to the baking sheet.

Chop or slice the meat into smallish pieces and scoop into a warm serving bowl. Set on the table along with the salsa and warm tortillas, and your meal is ready.

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No picture, no story. I just wanted to get this down so I can remember it for the future.  It was excellent!

Melted Cheese Casserole with Mexican Sausage and Roasted Chiles (adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium fresh poblano chiles or fresh pasilla chiles
  • 8 ounces Chorizo Sausage
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 8 ounces Mexican melting cheese such as Chihuahua, quesadilla or asadero
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro & sour cream optional

Roast the pablanos over an open flame, turning regularly until the skin is evenly blackened and blistered, about 5 minutes.  Be careful no to char the flesh, only the skin.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 5 minutes.  Rub off the blackened skin, then pull or cut out the stems and the seed pods.  Tear the chiles open and quickly rinse to remove any stray seeds and bits of skin.  Cut into 1/4 inch wide strips about 2 inches long.

Heat the oven to 350.  In a medium skillet, cook the chorizo over medium heat,stirring to break up any clumps, until half-cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is richly golden and the chorizo is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the poblano strips, taste and season with salt if necessary.  Transfer the mixture to a 9 or 10 inch shallow baking dish.

Very lightly dampen a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the tortillas in the towel, then in foil, sealing the edges tightly. Place in the oven and set the timer for 7 minutes.

When the timer goes off, stir the cheese into the warm chirizo.  Set in the oven alongside the tortillas and bake until the cheese is just melted. Sprinkle with the crumbled oregano and serve with the sour cream, tortillas and cilantro.

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Pork & Hominy Stew – Posole

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Well, Well, Well. I’ve been having quite a few problems writing anything for the blog lately… as you can tell.  I’ve still been cooking and taking pictures, but I just don’t have much energy to write.

As many of you know, I’m not a good writer.  Not only does it take me forever to come up with something to write, but it takes me years to actually write it down.

I’m also a all-or-none person when it comes to my hobbies and I have problems focusing on more than a few things at a time.  In the past year it has worked out like this, in this order:

  • Paintball and Exercising – good simple fun and I was in really good shape
  • Cooking and Exercising – almost perfect, I was eating a ton of food and maintaining my weight
  • Cooking and Blogging – the complete opposite.  I was eating and gaining weight
  • Cooking and Photography – two very time consuming hobbies that require a lifetime to be great at
  • Photography and Work – more work is necessary to pay for these hobbies

So where do we go from here?  I need to somehow find balance with all f this.  Paintball season starts in two months.  I’m really trying to improve my photography skills and I want to cook more.  Oh I need to exercise based on the fact I’ve gained half the weight back from last year already.  Last but not least, probably first, I need to start working on the new business opening, which is going to happen sooner than later.

To complicate things, I can’t just do something for fun.  More often than not I do something for the end result.  Being great, the best, perfect, better than others.  I’m always in search of knowledge, it could be researching World War II or reading about the Iraq war or many other things.  More times than not I pick a cooking subject or a recipe not to eat the food, but to learn the process, taste new foods or practice.  As I recently wrote on my facebook account, “I’m always reaching for something outside of my grasp”.

Any words of advice out there?

Oh and this recipe was great.  I had never tried Hominy before and I found this recipe in epicurious.com.  I didn’t really make any changes with the exception of adding a cornstarch slurry at the end to make it thicker.  It was one of the few almost perfect rated recipes I found on epicurious.com so give it a try!

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Pork & Hominy Stew (serves 4)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder butt, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces or boneless country pork spareribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup diced smoked ham
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, chopped
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 poblano chilies,* seeded, cut into 2×1/4-inch strips
  • 2 cups drained canned hominy (from two 15-ounce cans)
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Mix one and one half tablespoons of the chili powder the salt, and pepper in bowl. Rub spice mixture all over pork.

Saute bacon in large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat until crisp, about five minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Working in batches, add pork to drippings in pot and saute until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion, ham, carrot, and garlic to pot. Cover and cook five minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping up browned bits. Add the chilies and stir 1 minute.

Stir in the hominy, tomatoes with juices, beer, broth, marjoram, pork, and remaining two teaspoons chili powder and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cover and simmer until pork is very tender, about one to one and half hours.

Simmer stew uncovered until liquid is slightly reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and cilantro.

Note: If you want a thicker sauce, which I did, I added a cornstarch slurry and then simmered for another 10 minutes.

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I’m not sure I would classify this past weekend’s cooking adventures as a success or not, a success I think.

It started on Friday night when I called Jacob to ask him what he wanted for dinner. Jacob is pretty easy going, so at first I couldn’t really get anything out of him, but he finally succumbed and said he would like bratwurst. Hmm… I knew I was in trouble. First off, his dad just cooked brats while they were camping and he loved them. (You know how everything tastes so good when you are camping?)

Second when I asked him about the type of brats, the method, boiled and grilled, etc, he said he didn’t have any clue, just that they “were awesome”. Third, I’ve never made bratwurst before… oh crap, I’ve been here before!

Meanwhile I had this desire to make cornbread because I’ve never made it before and I was feeling pretty confident that I might be able to actually bake something without it being a miserable failure… I’m not much of a baker. (Post coming later this week!)

First stop, the Internet. I looked around for bratwurst recipes and found a few different methods and a fair amount of arguing about the best way to make them. Boil, don’t boil, only beer, water and beer, onion, no onions, grill only, boil and grill. Whew, well forget it. I’ll just pick the first recipe and go from there. Big mistake!

I followed the recipe perfectly which resulted in overcooked brats. The only thing that worked was the oven fries, but Nancy made those, so I guess I can’t take credit for them. I’m not sure how I had such a large loss of cooking common sense, but I will use the excuse that we were really busy at work on Friday and my brain was fried. Oh and the cornbread… three versions and two different types of cornmeal. More on that later.

Fast forward to Saturday. We had a wedding catering that I needed to prepare food for during the day, but I didn’t have to work the wedding that night. I told Jacob that I would attempt to make the brats again after work and that he could help me put together the new smoker as well.

While I’m grilling food for the wedding I get a call. Jacob wants a ride, when I’m done, to his friends’ house so he can hang out with them for a few hours. At first I was bummed out, but then I realized that he is 17 years old. When I was 17 years old I didn’t want to be seen anywhere near my parents much less cook with them. So I did the next best thing, I dropped him off and then stopped at the store and bought a HUGE bag of Peanut Butter M&M’s and went home to watch the Olympics, cook more cornbread and pig out! I figured with the Olympics being over on Sunday I better get as much food in as possible since I wouldn’t have any excuses for not working out.

Fast forward to Sunday night. More cornbread and more brats. This time I paid a bit more attention to the recipes I dug up and came up with a fairly successful adaptation. We will try them again soon with beef bratwurst instead of pork.

Sorry about the picture… it’s not the best. I take three steps forward and then two back, but I’m heading in the right direction I think.

Beer & Bratwurst (serves 4 – 6)

  • 8 links fresh bratwurst (uncooked)
  • 4 bottles of beer, Guinness or your favorite
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 8 hot dog buns or hoagie rolls
  • Brown mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sauerkraut

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Add beer to saucepan along with sliced onions. Bring liquid to boil. Add bratwurst and cook for 10 minutes. You can check the temp with an instant read thermometer, looking for 160 degrees.

Remove from liquid and grill, turning often for 5 or 6 minutes total. The sausages are already cooked so you are just looking to give them a nice browned, grilled exterior.

Place brat on bun, add mayonnaise, mustard and sauerkraut and devour! You could also add chopped bell peppers or sliced white onions.

All suggestions welcome on this one, comment away!

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This week has been interesting to say the least. Tonight I’m a bit unmotivated and having a problem figuring out what I want to write about. I wrote three paragraphs about the restaurant and then decided it was boring so I tossed that out the door.

I find that many of my readers enjoy hearing about the restaurant and what goes on there so I’ve been trying to include more stories about it. I also have some readers who have told me they would like to know more about how I’ve managed to lose 45 pounds in the last seven months even though I cook some pretty tasty food and work in a restaurant that has been awarded the title of “Best Baked Goods”!

Well let’s get to the point tonight and touch on the food thing since I’m most bothered by it right now and then I will go back and plop myself on the couch and watch the Olympics.

I have an addiction to food… Food is to me what alcohol is to an alcoholic. The only problem is I can’t quit cold turkey, I work at a restaurant, I’m Italian, I love food and my wife is a chef. Doh!

From January this year to the beginning of the Olympics last week, I’ve exercised 30 to 45 minutes of hard cardio, six days per week, every week. Yes every week! During the same period of time, I’ve eaten anything I wanted, but have limited my general overall calorie consumption to 1,300 to 1,800 calories each day.

In the first four months I didn’t break that routine, but maybe twice. In the past four months I broke the routine on average once per week. In the first four months I lost on average one to two pounds per week. In the last four months I’ve had periods of time where I don’t lose any weight for a month.

Everyone now tells me I shouldn’t lose anymore weight and I don’t intend to lose much more, but will start adding weights to build more muscle, which in turn will burn more calories, into my routine.

I’m a very all-or-nothing person, so either I’m working out, eating well and being healthy or I’m the exact opposite. I’ve worked out two out of the last ten days! haha, so you can imagine what’s going on with my eating habits.

So that’s a bit about my relationship with food. I have nothing profound to say or any great advice that, if you have a food addiction like me, you haven’t heard before. Exercise is my key and I find that if I’m doing it most of the week everything will work out.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. On Tuesday we had our first catering due at 7:00 in the morning and the last one a drop off at 6:00pm. We also had a friend coming over for dinner and I wanted to make a very modified version of Bolognese I ran across a few days ago. It interested me because it was supposed to be a “Quick Ragu” and I wasn’t going to have much time. I know, the next post for Bolognese was supposed to be the skirt steak version… it is coming I promise. It will be worth the wait.

I made it home early because my beautiful and wonderful wife volunteered to take the dinner catering since I was cooking the dinner, including homemade strawberry gelato, which I will share the recipe for in a few days.

The night was perfection and the dinner and dessert represented exactly what food should be all about. The three of us made dinner together, shared stories, drank wine and laughed. We coaxed the boys out of their lairs to eat dinner and we all enjoyed the results. We then retired to our very large and comfy couch and for the next three hours enjoyed great conversation and some strawberry gelato!

Pasta with Rapid Bolognese Sauce – (serves four)

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, small dice
  • 2 medium-sized celery hearts, small dice
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound mortadella, chopped fine (this is the fun part, first time I’ve used this ingredient)
  • 8 to 12 ounces tomato sauce (up to your preference)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni or mostaccioli pasta

Fill a 6 quart pan 3/4 full of water and bring to boil. This is your pasta boiling water.

Heat oil and butter over medium heat in dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan until hot. Add onion, carrots and celery. Cook until tender and onion is translucent, about nine minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute.

Stir in pork, tomato paste and mortadella then cook, stirring periodically, until the pinkness is eliminated, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of water. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste and then stir in parsley.

When you are 10 minutes away from the sauce being done, generously salt the boiling water. Add the pasta and cook until tender, per the package instructions. Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve, topped with Parmesan cheese.

Please share your great memories of food, friends and family. I always need to remember that we don’t just eat to survive, or to binge, or to satisfy some emotional void, but to enjoy the act of preparing and sharing!

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Pulled pork, bacon, back ribs… I love them all. Last week I made pork tenderloin and all week I’ve been thinking about doing pulled pork. I think about it often, but I rarely make it because of the time commitment necessary and my lack of planning. If you have the time though, make them, it is worth it! For me, this weekend seemed like the time to try and get them done.

For the first weekend in some time we didn’t have any caterings. We did pass on a few jobs that came up so that we could have a weekend off and spend time together. As always there are a ton of things we need to do, the most important is to start working on the business plan for the new location, but we decided to take a complete break from all things Dish!

We are pretty excited/scared to death about the new location. The owner of the property is going to be breaking ground in the next few weeks and we expect the building to be completed late spring or early summer next year.

My first big project is completing the business plan so we can go out and start looking for private investments. We started Dish with all private loans so I’m hoping some of our initial investors will come back and support us again, but you never know with the current state of the economy. Since the value of our house has dropped $80,000 in the past two years, doh!, there is really no line of credit left available so raising the money is really make or break.

Many people ask us why we want to open another location and warn us of all the things that can go wrong. Ultimately it all comes down to the lack of kitchen and prep space we are faced with each day. Imagine if you can, trying to prepare food for the restaurant customers while trying to produce food for 50 to 100 people for lunch deliveries while trying to prep for a 100 person party, all in less than 100 square feet of kitchen, one half-sized convection oven and portable burners. Our home kitchen is twice the size of our restaurant kitchen! I think in the last year we have had to turn down as much business as we have taken because of the space constraints.

So enough of Dish and my current concerns. On Saturday I made what I thought was exceptional pulled pork sandwiches. Making pulled pork is a two-day affair, but don’t be afraid. As long as you do a bit of planning the prep and method are fairly easy. The recipe presented below is a combination from America’s Test Kitchen and Steven Raichlen. The rub, sauce and the coleslaw come from Raichlen, who by the way has great grilling books that I can’t recommend more. The method, which shortens the overall cooking time comes from America’s Test Kitchen. I can’t say enough about their books. If you are just learning how to cook they are the best books to start with.

First let me share a few important tips:

  • When barbecuing with indirect heat using charcoal you will need to add fresh coals every 45 to 60 minutes to maintain the temperature. In the past I would add unlit briquettes to my coals but I noticed that it took too long for them to burn and put off heat which meant uneven heating. Now instead of emptying the entire charcoal starter of lite coals into the barbecue I leave 3 or 4 at the bottom, then add 10 fresh coals on top and set aside. By the time I need to replace some of the coals in the Weber these coals are ready to go.
  • If you are going to marinate or rub a big piece of meat, like a pork shoulder, don’t marinate it for less than 3 hours and 8 to 12 is ideal.
  • Invest in a good instant-read thermometer. I can almost tell, by touch, when my tri tip is done, but when it comes to other cuts of beef and pork, I’m very much at a loss. The best part of the thermometer is that I know for sure when something is done and I know for sure that I’m not going to make anyone sick!

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Please let me know if you make it and please share your barbecuing ideas for pulled pork. The more the merrier.

North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches (serves 4 to 6)

Rub:

  • 1 teaspoon mild paprika
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your fingers.

Pork:

  • 1 5-6 pound Boston butt (bone-in pork shoulder roast)
  • Vinegar sauce (below)
  • 10 to 12 hamburger buns
  • Coleslaw (below)
  • 2 cups of wood chips, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
  • 1 disposable aluminum pan

Vinegar Sauce:

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

For the vinegar sauce combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved. Taste, add more brown sugar and/or salt as necessary. The sauce should not be sour, but piquant.

Coleslaw:

  • 1 small head green cabbage
  • 1 cup Vinegar Sauce
  • Salt

Finely chop the cabbage by hand. Place in a large bowl and stir in vinegar sauce. Let stand for 10 minutes, then taste and add salt or sauce if desired.

Okay, on to the pork…. Rub the spices onto the pork shoulder, covering all sides. Cover it with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to 12 hours.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-low. You want the temp in the grill to be 275 degrees. I lit one charcoal starter half full, about 40 briquettes for a large Weber. Open bottom vents fully. Once the coals are ready, place them on one side of the grill, 2 to 3 briquettes high, leaving 60% of the grill empty. Place 1/2 of the wood chips directly on charcoal. You need to place the other half one hour into the cooking.

If using a gas grill it should be easy to get the temp to 275. You will most likely leave the back burner on med-high and turn the others off. You will want to make a smoke pouch. You can do this by placing your soaked chips on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil, cover the chips with the foil, making an enclosed pouch. Then poke holes in the top so the smoke can escape. You will place the pack on top of the burner that is producing heat.

Unwrap pork and place in a disposable aluminum pan and place on grate opposite the side with the charcoal. Open the top vent three quarters of the way, cover. Cook, adding about 8 to 10 briquettes every hour to maintain an average temperate of 275 for three hours.

I used an oven thermometer, placed through the vent hole, to track the temperature in the grill. You can adjust the temperature by opening and closing the vents on the top and bottom of the grill. If you see the temperature on the grill going above 315 you can close the vents more on top. If you have the top fully open and the temp starts to fall to below 275 then add more briquettes.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Completely wrap the pan holding the pork with heavy duty foil. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the meat is fork tender with an internal temperature of 195 degrees. This will take 1 1/4 to 2 hours depending on how consistent the temperature was in your barbecue.

Take the foil-wrapped pan out of oven, slide into a brown paper bag. Crimp the bag shut and let it sit for 1 hour. This allows any remaining collagen to melt and is worth the wait.

Put some heavy duty gloves on, or use a fork and pull the pork into pieces, discarding bones and skin. You are looking for pieces that are 1 to 2 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of vinegar sauce to the pork and combine.

Toast your buns, if you’d like, add some mayonnaise to one side of the bread (yum), mound the pulled pork on the bun and top with coleslaw. Devour!

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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

(serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 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

Garlic Toast

  • 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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