Rosemary Mustard Pork Tenderloin

Pork is the unsung hero of the protein world. It’s inexpensive, delicious, and accessible. I’ve been following a low-carb diet for the past six months or so, and have utilized Carolyn Ketchum’s cookbook Easy Keto Dinners for the majority of my meals. They are easy to prepare and delicious, and even if you’re not doing the keto thing, but still want to cut some carbs, this cookbook is a great resource. The following recipe is adapted from her book.

Continue reading “Rosemary Mustard Pork Tenderloin”

Advertisements

Fig Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops with Polenta

I have a  love/love relationship with balsamic vinegar. I can’t get enough of it. Fruity, tangy, and sweet, it is a perfect accompaniment to numerous types of food. If you’ve only tried it with bread at your local Italian restaurant, I’d encourage you to give it a try on pork, chicken, and even ice cream.

Like wine, the taste and quality of balsamic vinegars depends on the source of the ingredients and the process used to transform them into a vinegar. Balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico tradizionale) starts its life as white grapes, which are pressed and the resulting juice is reduced down to 30% of its original volume. This reduction, called the must, is then placed into wooden barrels and left to age for a minimum of 12 years and for as long as 25 years (!!!).

I stopped by the newly-opened We Olive Store and Wine Bar in Trolley Square. I will have a profile on them later, but the short story is that they specialize in selling California olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I brought home a bottle of one of my favorites that I tried at the store: the mission fig balsamic vinegar. This vinegar is less tangy and more sweet, thanks to the addition of the mission figs, and I figured it would go perfectly with some pork chops.

Fig Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops with Polenta Cakes and Wilted Spinach

Ingredients

1 tube of precooked polenta (I get mine from Trader Joe’s)
4 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
4 4-ounce portions of boneless center-cut pork chops, trimmed
1 10-ounce bag of spinach

Put the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and let it cook down about 1/3 of the original volume to concentrate the flavors (don’t go much more than that or you will have a syrup that’s too thick). Once cooked down, reserve the vinegar for later.

Place pork chops in a baking dish, cover each chop with olive oil, rosemary, some kosher salt, and black pepper. Turn the pork chops over and repeat.

Preheat a cast iron skillet and 2 tablespoons canola oil (or other high-temperature oil like grape seed) on medium-high heat. While it’s heating up, remove the polenta from the tube and cut them into 1/2 inch thick disks.

Place the polenta cakes into the skillet and cook until browned on both sides. Once cooked, put on a paper towel to remove excess oil from the cakes.

In the same skillet, place the pork chops and cooked to your desired temperature (I generally cook my pork chops to 135-140F). About a minute before they’re done, use a spoon or pastry brush to coat the pork chops with 1/2 of the reduced balsamic vinegar.

Pull the chops out a few degrees before they hit your desired temp (they’ll keep cooking due to residual heat). I highly suggest a quick read digital thermometer like the Thermapen to gauge meat doneness. No more overcooked proteins, and no more guess work.

While the pork is resting, dump the spinach in the same skillet and cook down to your desired doneness. Throw in some salt and pepper to taste.

Place a couple polenta cakes on your plate, top with a pork chop, and put the spinach on the side. Drizzle any remaining balsamic vinegar over the pork, and garnish with fresh rosemary.

Serves four.

SLCeats friends: as you know (and I hope appreciate), I do not have banner advertisements on my site. All of my projects, restaurant reviews, and other culinary adventures are self-funded. If you’d like to show some support by contributing a few bucks, I would truly appreciate it. Head over to Square Cash and make a contribution.

Sous Vide Carnitas

As you may have seen from my Instagram stories, I continue to learn how to cook with the Anova Sous Vide cooker. I was excited to receive the cooker as a Christmas gift, because I’ve been wanting one for a while. Through precise maintenance of the exact cooking temperature, sous vide enables a cook to cook meats (and veggies) at a precisely exact temperature. So, instead of cooking a ribeye on a blazing hot 500 degree flat top or grill and overcooking the outside of the steak in order to get the center up to 135 degrees, with sous vide you just set the water temp at 135, submerge the meat, and the entire steak cooks to a perfect 135. After a few hours, take it out, quickly finish it in a hot skillet to brown the outside, and you’re all set. Perfectly cooked meat, every time.

Learning, like any cooking technique, takes a bit of trial and error. But with help from one of my favorite websites, Serious Eats, I’m finally getting the hang of it.

This weekend’s experiment: sous vide carnitas. There are few foods I enjoy more in life than a taco filled with deliciously crisp, yet tender pork carnitas. The crispy bits add a contrasting texture to the unctuous meat that inches these guys towards near perfection.

For the pork recipe, I used the Serious Eats Sous Vide carnitas recipe. For those that don’t have a sous vide, they also have an oven-roasted recipe as well. If you want any leftovers, you will want to get the full four pounds the recipe calls for. I thought that was too much, and only bought two pounds from local butcher Beltex Meats, and we ended up with hardly any leftovers for two of us. There’s a lot of fat that renders out, and the pork cooks down.

Some other tweaks I made to our version: I did a quick-pickle of some carrots, which added some nice bright contrast to the rich pork. We also topped ours with avocado and some peppadew peppers from Beltex (you can also find them at Harmon’s). Next time I’ll grab some cotija and maybe some crema to throw on top as well.

carnitas-2

Thyme Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

Adapted from my mama’s recipe

Years ago, my mom put together a recipe book containing my family’s favorite recipes. This is one of those recipes, slightly adapted.

What you’ll need:

1 pork loin (around 1 or 1.5 pounds)
¾ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh thyme

Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup orange juice 
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup Amour italian plum marmalade 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Place the pork in a large ziploc or non metallic pan. Combine the orange juice with soy sauce, mustard, sugar, garlic, pepper, and thyme. Pour over the pork loin. Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.

Drain meat and discard the marinade. Place the pork in a pan and cook at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 145.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted. Add the orange juice and soy sauce. Cook over medium low heat until sauce is slightly reduced. Stir in the marmalade and mustard, and continue to heat until reduced down a bit.

Let pork rest 5-10 minutes, then slice into thin slices. Top with the sauce, and garnish with fresh thyme.