Tag Archives: pork tenderloin

What About Bob & Marie’s “Sunday Dinner”

Marie's Sunday Dinner

Marie’s Sunday Dinner

I asked my sister-in-law’s husband Bob to invite us to dinner! I never know how to introduce him; he is married to my husband’s sister and is “Uncle Bob” to my kids. But he is not technically my brother-in-law so do I say” hi, this is my sister-in-law’s husband” or “this is my husband’s brother-in-law” or “this is my kids uncle by marriage” or perhaps just “this is Bob” would be best. Yes, except that when you introduce people everyone needs clarification to feel comfortable. Like, “this is Mimi, my sister who lives in Ireland and thinks her winning dish is corn flakes with the perfect measure of sugar and milk” That way you know that this person is my sister, you know where she lives and that she cooks a mean bowl of cereal! People are more comfortable when they have a little information on someone new. Try going to a party and introducing someone by just saying their name and watch the awkward moment that follows! I guarantee the next question asked by the person left out in Limbo will be: “what do you do?” or “how do you know Tess?” We are odd insecure creatures.

Sister-in-law helping out

My Sister-in-law

So who is Marie now that you know Bob is my sister-in-law’s husband, my husband’s brother-in-law and my kids Uncle by marriage, oh and lives right next door. Marie is a person I never met but someone I have heard about over the course of 20 years, and in that time have pieced together a picture of this woman, Bob’s mother.

Every time I have heard her name it is always when Bob and I are talking about food. I don’t know if Bob and I have that much in common but the things that in the end give us ties that bind are family and food. Sometimes I think we share a sort of secret club of mutual understanding and empathy. We are both living away from what was familiar to us growing up (okay I suppose I win there being from Ireland and him being American). But we both have no family here and we are identified by our spouse’s family. I shouldn’t think of it like this because I love this new family-in-law for want of a better word, but when we are all gathered for Christmas or Thanksgiving, birthdays and sadly funerals, I see Bob and I, and then everyone else. It’s not a complaint and I do see the same thing when I get together with my family and how my husband looks “set apart”

Meatballs smothered in sunday Gravy

Meatballs smothered in Sunday Gravy

It is just what happens, the way that I have a nostalgic urge to continue to cook certain foods my mother cooked and not the food my mother-in-law cooked. It is the root of things that cannot be severed or relinquished. The piece of Bob that is integral to his make-up is the food that his mother made and the food he learned to cook himself through what must have felt like osmosis to him. The day in and day out of just being in the kitchen with her (whether he was helping with the meal or not), taught him how to cook her food. The familiar aroma that seemed to hang in the air of only his house became an association with her and her alone. When you grow up in a house where cooking is a nightly occurrence you can’t help but take that with you when you leave or when the parent who created all the smells and tastes dies. That is a very beautiful thing.

Bubbling Sunday Gravy

Bubbling Sunday Gravy

And it is that part of Bob’s mother that is very much alive for him. She grew up in an Italian/American household, lived in an Italian neighborhood in Newark New Jersey and married an Italian/American man who was from the same town (correct me if I am wrong Bob!). To me, the great thing about Italian food in American is how these expats. took the best of what their forbearers brought with them and held on tightly to those recipes. They made it their own of course but the backbone of certain dishes is very much Italian; like Sunday Gravy. Italy is one of those amazing places in Europe who is stubborn (in a very good way) about their food. They have not been lured by “fusion” even though the world itself has been fused together with people and countries mingling together creating a new kind of food culture and new kind of world in general.

Slow-cooked Italian Sausages

Slow-cooked Italian Sausages

When I lived for a few months in Italy last year the only food I ate, indeed the only ingredients I could find to cook with in the little Tuscan town (Cortona) I lived in was Italian food; all of the meat, the sausages, chicken, lamb, beef and all the mouth-watering cured meats were all local, as were the vegetables and of course the wine – all Italian! You could find a little more diversity in the big cities like Florence and Rome, but even their traditional Italian food reigned supreme. I did not complain (although I did pine now and then for some soy and sriracha sauce!).

The Piece de Resistance (Rigatoni with sunday Gravy)

The Piece de Resistance (Rigatoni with Sunday Gravy)

Getting back to Bob…a few weeks ago I bumped into him when he was waiting for his daughter (my children’s’ first cousin or my niece by marriage who is also my God Child – just to clarify) and I asked if he would make his mother’s Sunday Dinner and invite us. Brazen I know, but after 20 years I felt like I could ask and that he could go ahead and be a bit indignant that I had the nerve but I really don’t worry too much about stuff like that any more. And to be fair, Bob is a pretty easygoing fella so of course he willingly agreed to make dinner for us all! He sort of laughed and said it wasn’t anything special but a week or so later his wife (my actual sister-in-law!) called to say that Bob would be making “The Dinner” this coming Sunday – wow, he took my request as a serious one after all.

Bob and his long-cooked pot of Sauce

Bob and his long-cooked pot of Sauce

When you have the same dinner each and every Sunday for as long as you can remember then I suppose this dish is viewed as nothing special. I mean if I lived in Italy and had a cornetto and a cafe macchiato every morning for breakfast it would also become something ordinary ( I can only dream about that kind of ordinary right now). It is all relative, and since I grew up in Ireland on a diet of meat and potatoes the idea of eating  pork tenderloin, homemade meatballs and sausages that have been simmering all day in a rich red sauce and served with rigatoni pasta and a generous sprinkle of freshly chopped flat-leafed parsley, Parmigiano Reggiano and possibly a dollop of ricotta cheese seemed like a most glorious opportunity indeed.

Marie's Meatball Mix

Marie’s Meatball Mix

I had never experienced anything close to this kind of food growing up in Ireland. Loath though I am to admit it the first time I ate spaghetti with red sauce was from a tin. It never occurred to me that you could eat it any other way. I had never seen dried pasta in the supermarket namely because it was not sold in any supermarket in Ireland before 1983 ish. I’m guessing on the date but to impress upon you how rare it was to find pasta and even rarer to find someone cooking it instead of potatoes, I remember being in a very fancy supermarket in Dublin in about 1984 and in one aisle there was a whole shelf of dried spaghetti with a big SALE sign that said 1 penny! So even the supposed sophisticates of the country had no notion what to do with the stuff!

The Salad

The Salad

When I took some home and cooked pasta for dinner, my father said “this is great but where are the potatoes?” After that I always served pasta with a dollop of mash on the side. Even today, in every Chinese restaurant in Ireland you can have chips with your Beef Chow Mein!

Another combination (meatballs, gravy and rigatoni

Another combination (meatballs, gravy and rigatoni

Which reinforces the idea that even though the world has immersed itself in each other’s food we tend to stick to what we grow up with for the most part. Why do you think that Bob was still cooking a deep rich red sauce with his mother Marie in his kitchen in Newark in the 70’s and 80’s, which of course was handed down directly from some relative who came over from Italy. Preserving recipes is part and parcel of preserving a culture. Sometimes it is the only thing that helps distinguish one culture from another. 

Bob said his mother never made less than 2 lbs of pasta for any meal, even if it was only dinner for two!

Bob said his mother never made less than 2 lbs of pasta for any meal, even if it was only dinner for two!

When I was growing up in Ireland and had the chance to go away on holidays when my friend Siobhan we would either don backpacks and stick out our thumb and hostel around the West of Ireland or go to France. France was easy as you could take a boat from Rosslare in County Wexford to Cherbourg or Le Havre. Getting to Italy required a little more planning and money of which the latter was in short supply. I never made it to Italy until last year (click on “Italy” to the right of my blog to read about my trip) so my introduction to Italian Food was in the States. I knew it had taken on a life of its own, as it should, but the essence was the same. It was all about big robust food centered around family.

Italian parsley - the best garnish in the world

Italian parsley – the best garnish in the world

Bob had talked about his mother’s Sunday Gravy a number of times before I asked him what it was. I felt kind of silly that I didn’t know what it was, because when I thought about gravy it was brown, thickened with flour or thinned out with meat juices. I was very far off the mark as it was Italian red sauce but essentially it served the same purpose as the gravy swimming on my plate every Sunday; it bound the food together and colored the flavor of everything you put into your mouth. I think Sunday Gravy is more important to Italian food than brown gravy is to the Irish kitchen (after all there is also White sauce!) and is the one component that every Italian or American-Italian has an opinion on. Some argue that garlic is imperative while others insist on fresh oregano or it just won’t be authentic. Bob’s Sunday Gravy is something I wondered about and the only way to taste it was to invite myself over to try it!

See What I mean (about the parsley!)

See What I mean (about the parsley!)

Bob did not cook this dinner every Sunday, far from it. It took on a more celebratory status when he made it because he had to be in the kitchen for hours watching the pot, stirring regularly and making the other things that in Marie’s time were part and parcel of the meal; like her meatballs, salad, cheeses and herbs. People don’t spend as much time in the kitchen on Sundays as they used to because there are so many other distractions and obligations, so while Bob laughed at how excited we all were (well me for sure) about a meal he could have prepared with his eyes closed there was no getting away from the fact that it brought everyone together under one roof; the in-laws, the cousins and the Granny!

Dig in!

Dig in!

The conversation drifted from food to family and back to food again. My mother-in-law wondered if having the smells of his childhood in his kitchen and all of the people milling around made him think about his mother and make him miss her? It didn’t seem so and I think he was comforted not saddened while going through the familiar motions of shaping the meatballs and checking the sauce. He was amused by my questions about how the sauce tasted to him, and if the Sunday dinner always has a bowl of ricotta cheese on the table, but I could see that he also enjoyed talking about the food and his mother and thinking about all the Sundays he spent in the kitchen with her. Up to that Sunday I had always wished I had met her, but now I feel a little like I did.

Thank you bob for giving us this most wonderful feast

Thank you Bob for giving us this most wonderful feast

Paprika Pork For Dinner! (serves 6)

This was such a satisfying dish and the way it came about is how most things happen in this kitchen: rummaging in the pantry and picking out the most appealing spice of the moment and promptly building the entire dinner around that flavor.

pork with a lovely kick

Pork with a lovely kick

A couple of nights ago when going through my rummaging ritual looking for inspiration, I found a little bag of Hungarian Paprika from a trip I made to a marvellous spice shop in New York City, Kalustyan’s.

And this is just a small corner of the spice section!

A customer mesmerized by a small section of the spice department at Kalustyan’s!

The description read, “slightly pungent ground red pepper from Hungary with slightly hot aromatic rich pepper flavor” I knew that this would be all that was needed to dress up the pork tenderloin sitting in my fridge.

pakrika

Paprika

Using pork tenderloin allowed me to cook a rich and heavenly dish in a very short amount of time. It was truly amazing and is another great dinner to turn to if in a hurry, or you are faced with the sometimes overwhelming task of feeding a crowd. This dish would make it a snap!

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You will need:

3 tbs olive oil

2 lbs pork tenderloin (2 1lb tenderloin)

sea-salt and black pepper for seasoning

2 celery ribs, sliced or diced

1 large sweet onion, large dice

1 tbs chopped fresh marjoram leaves

1 cup sliced or Julienne carrots

3 or 4 cups chopped dark green spinach

1 tbs hot Hungarian paprika

1 tsp sea salt

3 tbs all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken broth (veggie broth or bouillon cube and water will work also)

Method:

Preheat oven 425*

1 – Season tenderloin with sea-salt and black pepper. Place a saute pan on high heat and add the oil. When it is hot add the tenderloin and sear on all sides until browned (this seals in the flavor). Remove to a heavy casserole pot and set aside.

sear tenderloin until browned on all sides..

Sear tenderloin until browned on all sides.

2 – Turn heat down to medium and add the onions and cook for a few minutes before adding the celery. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped marjoram and stir.

Saute onions and celery

Saute onions and celery, add herbs

3 – Add the paprika and stir into the onion mixture. Add the salt and the flour and stir quickly. Let it cook for about 30 seconds or so.

add hot paprika and flour

Add hot paprika, then flour

4 – Add the broth 1 cup at a time while stirring. Turn the heat up to high and add the carrots. When it comes to a boil pour the whole thing over the casserole with the tenderloin.

add liquid

Add liquid

5 – Cover and place in your preheated oven for 45 minutes.

pour sauce onto pork adn place in oven

Pour sauce over pork and place in oven

6 – Remove from oven and transfer the tenderloin to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Let it rest for 5 minutes. In the meantime add the spinach to the casserole and cover with lid. (it will wilt into the sauce). At this point you can taste the sauce for addition of seasonings. Adjust if necessary.

Remove pork to rest, add spinach

Remove pork to rest, add spinach

7 – After the meat has rested cut into thick slices and transfer back to the casserole.

Return sliced pork to pot

Return sliced pork to pot

Serve with whatever you like: rice, boiled or mashed potatoes, pasta or bread. This is also great served with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper flakes.

serve

serve

Quick Pork Ragu (serves 6 with Pasta)

Okay, this is a crazy weekend with far too many things on my plate to wax on about how great this easy-peasy (lemon-squeezy!) pork dish tasted. As is pretty obvious I love to cook, but sometimes the pressure of time makes it an activity that is squeezed in between all the other things that are part of my life.

A great speedy ragu

A great speedy ragu

The same goes for the writing. I have only time enough to give the recipe before zooming off to do the million things that very inconveniently came crashing down on me all at one time! I don’t like when my weekend is taken up with things that are not so important to me but still need to be done.

On the bright side, if you only came to my blog for a recipe then it will be convenient as you to not have to scroll through a lots of extra stuff to get to it!

This is a great dish if you too find yourself short on time this weekend. You can also double up and feed a crowd!

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You will need:

1 lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

2 stripes bacon, roughly chopped or sliced

1 medium sweet or yellow onion, small dice

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (chili flakes)

1/2 cup white wine

28 oz can tomato puree

1 tbs tomato paste (regular or smoked)

1 tsp salt

several grinds of black pepper

Method:

1 – Put sauce pot or deep saute pan on medium heat and add oil. When it warms add the onions and cook for 2 minutes before adding the chopped bacon. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally before adding the rosemary. Cook for another minute.

saute onions, bacon & rosemary

Saute onions, bacon & rosemary

2 – Season the pork with the sea-salt and pepper and turn up heat. Add the pork and cook for 5 minutes until it takes on a light brown color. Add the wine and turn the heat up to high. Let it bubble for about 1 minute.

add pork

Add pork

3 – Add the tomato puree, paste, and chili flakes and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

et voila!

et voila!

Serve with spaghetti, ridged penne or pasta shells. A salad on the side would also be a nice addition.

The BEST Recipe for Pork Tenderloin (serves 6-8)

If you are sick of roasting pork tenderloin the same old way, you have to try this! It is not only fast but is the most delicious use of this tender meat imaginable.

a great dish in lightening speed!

A great dish in lightening speed!

This dinner was invented out of necessity as it was getting late and I wanted to get this pork tenderloin (that was still a little frozen), cooked as quickly as possible! The easiest way to cook meat quickly is to slice it and fry it fast. This is what I did and I have to say that sometimes when you spend less time thinking and more time doing, it can lead to glorious dishes like this one.

Somehow the proportions were exactly right and we were all eating ravenously within thirty minutes (a sharp knife helps here too!)

I will most definitely make this again and again.

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You will need:

3 (or more) tbs olive oil (or grapeseed or veggie oil)

2 lbs pork tenderloin (usually come in around 1lb pieces), thinly sliced (see instructions below)

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup mirin

2 tsp finely granulated sugar

1 tsp sesame oil (if you don’t have this, don’t worry)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

1 lrg sweet onion, small dice

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 or 3 celery ribs, diced

1 cup finely chopped carrots

*We had rice with this, so if you want rice too, cook it before you begin!*

Method:

1 – Prep everything first!

The trick to thin slices is to cut the meat when it is slightly frozen

The trick to thin slices is to cut the meat when it is slightly frozen

2 – Slice meat and place in bowl with soy, mirin, sugar and sesame oil mixture. mix well and set aside in fridge while prepping and cooking the veggies.

Cook veggies first

Cook veggies first

3 – Put large saute pan on high heat and when it is hot add 2 tbs of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots and cook for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove to a bowl to be added to the dish later.

fry pork on high heat in batches

fry pork on high heat in batches fast!

4 – Add 2 more tbs of oil to the pan and add 1/4 or 1/3 of the pork and cook  on high heat for about 4 minutes. Continue to cook in batches, transferring to a bowl as you go until it is all done. Add more oil if you need to, and do not crowd the pan or the pork will end up steaming rather than quick frying.

luciously freid pork tenderloin

lusciously fried pork tenderloin

5 – As the last batch of pork finishes cooking, add the spinach and stir in quickly. Cook for about 1 minute, then turn off heat and add the rest of the veggies and stir everything together. If there is any marinade left, add to the pan and stir.

add spinach adn all other ingrediets back into pan

Add spinach and all other ingredients back into pan

Serve this with a mound of basmati rice (or other favorite rice) or with anything you like: rice noodles, on its own, with big leaves of romaine lettuce etc etc

We had this with basmati rice

We had this with basmati rice

Indian-Inspired Pork Stir-Fry (serves 6)

So many times my dishes are born from a single spice or herb and everything else will follow. In this case it was the bag of ground coriander that was calling my name, which I  answered by making this pretty darn great pork stir-fry. One thing is for sure, pork tenderloin is a handy item to have in your fridge. It cooks super fast and it loves a good marinade.

Indian-Inspired pork stir-fry

Indian-Inspired pork stir-fry

Also adding some chopped roasted Anaheim peppers to the plain fluffy rice was a great way to highlight their lovely smoky heat, and the rice looked so pretty dotted with green flecks of color.

guyg

Roasted Anaheim peppers

This dish comes together faster than you think so don’t be put off by the list of ingredients. Perhaps you could put pork tenderloin and coriander on your shopping list this weekend!

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You will need:

basmati rice for 6 (cook rice according to rice cooker or package instructions and keep warm)

2 Anaheim peppers

4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

2 lbs pork tenderloin, thinly sliced, (which is about 2 loins)

1 1/2 tbs soy sauce

1 1/2 tbs mirin

2 tsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 1/2 tbs ground coriander

2 medium onions, peeled & cut into 8 wedges

3 garlic cloves, sliced

4 cups chopped spinach

1/2 cup chicken or veggie stock (OR 1/2 bouillon cube & 1/2 cup water)

sea-salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

*cook rice according to instructions and keep warm & when peppers are roasted (method below), add to rice*

basmati rice with roasted anaheim peppers

Basmati rice with roasted Anaheim peppers

1 – Roast Anaheim peppers: Put your oven rack a few inches from the grill (I’m guessing the second rack) and put the peppers on a baking tray and place under the hot grill. Check every few minutes and turn peppers as they blacken.

uh

Roast Anaheim peppers

2 – Remove peppers and place in a brown paper bag (I use the bags I get when I buy a bottle of wine) and close. Leave for about 15 to 20 minutes undisturbed. Remove from bag and peel off the skin, remove the stem and seeds. Do not rinse with water or you will lose flavor and texture. Dice peppers (& add to warm rice)

3 – Mix together in a large bowl (one that can hold the sliced raw pork) 3 tbs of extra-virgin oil with the soy, mirin, sesame oil, cumin, white pepper, and coriander.

mix spices adn oils for marinade

Mix spices and oils for marinade

4 – Add the sliced pork and mix together until everything is well coated (I use my hands for the job). Set aside for at least 15 minutes (or can be done up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge).

marinate pork in spice blend

Marinate pork in spice blend

5 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and add a tbs of olive oil. When it has warmed, add the onion wedges and garlic slices. Cook, stirring often for about 8 minutes., (onions will soften and start to brown in spots, while still retaining a crunch)

saute onions & garlic

Saute onions & garlic

6 – Turn heat up to high and add the pork. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock (or water and bouillon) and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Turn off heat.

add pork, then liquid

Add pork, then liquid

7 – Add the spinach and mix gently. Place lid on pan and let the spinach wilt slightly for 5 minutes (you want the spinach to still have a raw “feel”)

mx in spinach

Mix in spinach

Serve immediately in warm shallow bowls with a scoop of rice and pass the hot sauce (we love sriracha!)

Salmon (or Pork) With Lemony Spaghetti (serves 4)

This was a night where I was salivating for fish but my kids were in the mood for something else. I am a very indulgent mother when it comes to food, probably because cooking is not a chore, but a pleasure for me. I have learned how to please both sides of the aisle by making one dish that will work with both of the other main ingredients (usually the protein).

Salmon with Lemony spaghetti

Salmon with Lemony spaghetti

The other night I was able to make this one pasta dish, which could easily be eaten as a meal in itself (with a little parm cheese) and it worked equally well with fried salmon and fried slices of pork tenderloin.

I know it seems like work but both the pork and salmon took no time at all to cook and I had a very happy dinner table. Believe me I did this as much to please myself as everyone else.

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You will need:

4  salmon fillets (around 6oz each) ( OR 1lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced)

2 tbs olive oil

1 rib of celery including leaves, finely diced

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 good quality bouillon cube

1 cup water

1/3 cup white wine

1/2 cup (maybe a little more) heavy cream

2 tbs cold unsalted butter

1 tbs freshly chopped rosemary leaves

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 head escarole, chopped

Method:

1 – Put large saute pan (large enough to hold complete finished dish) on high heat and add the oil. When it is hot, add the seasoned salmon fillets (or pork) to the pan and cook until done. salmon will take about 4 minutes on the first side and a little less on the second. Pork will take about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and keep warm until dish is complete.

cook salmon

cook salmon

*Put the water on for the pasta and when it boils, add a couple of teaspoons of salt and a little oil to the water. Cook spaghetti according to instructions. Time it to be ready when cream is added to pan (# 5 in method)*

2 – Turn heat down to medium and add onions, garlic and celery. Cook for about 6 minutes before adding the rosemary. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes, stirring frequently.

saute onions, celery, garlic, then add rosemary

saute onions, celery, garlic, then add rosemary

3 – Next add the bouillon cube and stir until it turns to a paste and is fully incorporated.

add bouillon cube

add bouillon cube

4 – Add the wine and water and turn up the heat and let the mixture come to a boil. Add the escarole and turn heat down again. Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes.

add liquid

add liquid

5 – Add the cream to the pan and when it is nice and warm add 1 tablespoon of the cold butter. Stir.

add escarole, then cream, then butter

add escarole, then cream, then butter

6 – Add the pasta the moment it is drained (do not rinse pasta in cold water), and stir in the last tablespoon of butter.

add cooked spaghetti, then more butter

add cooked spaghetti, then more butter

Divide pasta between 4 warmed plates or shallow bowls along with a piece of fish…

Salmon With Lemony Spaghetti

Salmon With Lemony Spaghetti

…or pork.

this can also be made with pork tenderloin slices using exactly the same method

This can also be made with pork tenderloin slices using exactly the same method

Crispy Fried Pork (or tofu!) Medallions with Escarole Rice (serves 4)

Crispy Fried Pork Medallions with Escarole Rice

Crispy Fried Pork Medallions with Escarole Rice

Sometimes I am in the mood to make dinner as quickly as possible, and others, like last night, there is nothing I enjoy more than standing in my kitchen lazily chopping and stirring, in the company of whomever wants to watch the movie I may have playing and perhaps share my bottle of wine.

frying pork to lovely crispiness

frying pork to lovely crispy-ness

I am always trying to come up with interesting ways to cook pork tenderloin. It is such a delicate cut of meat with a tenderness that needs to be preserved for it to taste its very best. I sliced the pork and with a crowded counter filled with bowls of flour, an Asian egg mixture and another of panko crumbs I coated each piece of meat before frying to perfection. This was so good, and such a hit, I was sorry I hadn’t double the recipe!

Fresh herbs will always make your food taste better

Fresh herbs will always make your food taste better

I thought it would be perfect with a very aromatic rice, and since I was hell-bent on using up every last herb I had purchased for recipes over the Christmas break, I added chopped pungent rosemary and liquorice-y tarragon to the rice with a couple of mushrooms and sweet onions to make the best accompaniment ever. It was hard not to eat and say “mmmmm” the whole time we were eating!

By all means these two dishes can be made as part of other dishes. I think the pork with be great on a buffet table and the rice could go with so many other meat dishes, (and in the case of my dinner, crispy fried tofu).

Happy New Year’s Eve – Cook something memorable!

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You will need:

1 pork tenderloin, (try to find one that is about 1 1/4 lbs) cut into 3/8″ or 1 cm slices

OR tofu (instead of pork)about two packages of extra-firm, sliced into triangles or big squares (prepared as instructed below ingredient list)

2 large eggs

2 tbs hoisin sauce

2 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs mirin

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups panko crumbs (have more on hand)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 medium sweet or yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 medium head escarole, washed and roughly chopped

2 large mushrooms, diced

10 (or so) fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

1 stem of rosemary leaves, pulled off stem and chopped (about 1 tbs)

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

sea-salt to taste

6 cups cooked basmati rice

Dipping sauce: 6 tbls soy sauce mixed with 6 tbs mirin. Divide between 2 or 3 bowls for the table.

*This can easily be a vegetarian/vegan or Blood Type A Diet recipe. Use extra firm tofu which you should squeeze of excess moisture (enough for 4 to 6 servings) and follow method below or follow method here.

Method:

1 – If you are going to cook rice, put it on right away and let it be cooling until you need it. If you already have leftover rice, take it out of the fridge and stir to loosen.

2 – Mix the eggs in a shallow bowl with the hoisin, soy and mirin. Place flour in a shallow bowl or a dinner plate. Put panko crumbs on a dinner plate. Place a big platter or plate on the counter beside the other plates and bowls.

3 – Make sure the pork is dry and then dip each piece in flour, then coat with egg mixture (by dipping), and finish by pressing each side into the panko crumbs. Place on the waiting platter or plate. When they are all dipped and rolled, place in the fridge. * I find they cook so much better when they are cold*

Prep pork and store in fridge until ready to fry

Prep pork and store in fridge until ready to fry

4 – Next make your dipping sauce (see method in ingredient list).

make dipping sauce

make dipping sauce

5 – Put big saute pan on medium heat and add 2 tbs of oil. Add onions and cook for about 7 minutes.

saute onions

saute onions

6 – Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 or so minutes. You may have to add more oil. Add the chopped herbs and some sea-salt (about 1/2 to 1 tsp) and stir into veggies.

add herbs

Add mushrooms, then herbs

7 – Cook until onions are nice and soft.

cook for several minutes

Cook for several minutes

8 – Add the chopped escarole and cayenne flakes (if using) and cook until the greens wilt (about 4 or 5 minutes).

add escarole

Add escarole & pepper flakes

9 – Add the rice and stir until it has completely warmed through. Cover with lid and keep warm on lowest heat (or turn off and reheat right before serving)

add rice

Add rice

10 – Put large saute pan on medium/high heat and add about 3 tbs oil. When it is hot add the pork in a single un-crowded layer. Cook until crispy on both sides (about 2 to 3 minutes per side). Remove to a plate and keep warm in low temperature oven until you have fried all of the batches. You will need to add more oil as you go.

fry pork

fry pork

Serve pork alongside the rice and drizzle a little of the dipping sauce over the pork before serving. Each person may add more dipping sauce or hot sauce as they please.

serve with a drizzle of dipping sauce

serve with a drizzle of dipping sauce

The pork can be easily substituted for tofu (I did) and prepared exactly the same way. (Check above for further instructions)

I had exactly the same thing only with tofu

I had exactly the same thing only with tofu