Thursday, March 27, 2008

Culinary Improv Pt. II: Meat Rubs & Special Sauce

I'm in this phase of cooking on weeknights. I find catharsis and relaxation after a long work day in the kitchen. It's also an opportunity to be creative that work may not provide. That said, it's got to be a fairly fast cooking process because I get bored and tired easily. Dinner at 10pm? Might as well order my favorite neighborhood takeout!

Finding recipes to follow was a good start, but I find that often these took significantly longer than the prep time indicated. So time to get serious and learn some basic cooking techniques. The following recipe is an amalgam of what I've learned about pairing flavors, cooking pork - and making interesting sauces.

I'm curious as to whether this bears replication. I've only made it once but if any of you venture it and it comes out alright, let me know! We may have a bonafide recipe on our hands . . .

(Thanks to my personal photographer for the pic)


So heres the story behind the flavors. Pork chops and apple sauce is one of my favorite comfort foods. So I know that apples and pork go well together. But to keep the sauce from getting too sweet, I wanted something tangy to cut it. Like dijon mustard. And to give it an extra kick and sophistication, a mysterious element, I thought it'd be fun to add some bourbon to the mix. And since I'm Indian and you can never have too much masala, some old cinnamon-clove-ginger-chilli masala sounded like a nice addition ;o) May not make total sense, but that was basically my thought process (BTW Gray Kunz's book on the Elements of Taste is a good starting point with pretty pics for learning this)

The recipe itself? Well, it involved pork as you might have guessed. . .

Ingredients
1/2 lb pork tenderloin
2 tbsn mustard
1 tbsn crushed bay leaves
1.5 tbsn fennel
salt & pepper to season
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tbspn butter (melted)

1 medium shallot
1 tbsn butter
1.5 red apples finely diced
1 tbsn dijon mustard
2 tbsn bourbon
4 cloves
1 tspn cinnamon
2 tspn diced ginger
1 tspn crushed red pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 470F
2. Wash and trim the pork. Season with salt and pepper. Mix bay leaves, fennel, mustard in a small bowl. Rub onto pork, coating evenly on all sides. Leave in fridge for at least an hour if you can.
3. In a hot cast iron pan with a drizzle of olive oil, sear the meat for about 2 minutes on each side.
4. Place in oven, still in pan, for 10-15minutes until meat is just short of done.
5. As meat cooks, in a separate saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add diced shallots.
6. Add apples and ginger, cook for 2 minutes. Add mustard, cloves, cinnamon, red pepper.
7. After 1 minute, add bourbon. Then add stock and bring to a boil.
8. Reduce heat to low and simmer, letting sauce slow cook and reduce to desired thickness. Allow to cool slightly and add salt to taste.
9. When pork is almost - but not quite - finished, removed cast iron pan from oven with mitts. In a flat plate, rolls bread crumbs with melted butter. Using tongs, transfer pork and coat in bread crumbs evenly, turning repeatedly.
10. Return pork to cast iron pan and place back in oven. Continue baking until finished and panko has turned golden and crispy (another 5 mins or less).
11. Allow meat to cool a few minutes. Slice into medallions and serve with sauce poured on top!

1 comment:

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