Pork Loin with Rhubarb Port Sauce

IMG_3195I mentioned recently I feel rhubarb has an identity crisis. People think it is a fruit rather than vegetable because of its tangy yet fruity flavors. This fruit mentality often relegates rhubarb to the dessert cart. There are many recipes for crisps, tarts, pies, jellies, cookies, and cakes, but not too many highlighting rhubarb for the more savory entrée.

Although I made this recipe with a pork loin, the flavors will work well with roasted turkey or chicken. I think it would complement wild game too.

IMG_3186I moved rhubarb to the dinner plate with this recipe. I have frequently used cranberries to make a cranberry port sauce served with turkey at Thanksgiving and other holidays. This got me thinking. Since cranberries and rhubarb share a similar flavor profile – both tart and tangy – I should be able to substitute rhubarb for cranberries in this sauce.

While the pork was roasting, I got to work on the rhubarb port sauce. I started by chopping one pound of rhubarb into small pieces, about 1/4″ or so, that would be roughly the size of cranberries. To this, I added 3/4 cups of packed light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, and 1 and 1/4 cups of ruby port. Why 1 and 1/4 cup of ruby port? Because that leaves 1/4 cup of port in a 375 milliliter bottle that the cook can then enjoy while occasionally stirring the sauce until it reduces and thickens slightly.

Time to start working on that rhubarb appetizer and cocktail. I have ideas.

Here is what I did:

Pork Loin with Rhubarb Port Sauce

Ingredients

3 to 5 pound boneless center cut pork loin
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 Pound chopped rhubarb (approximately 1/4″)
3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 Cup ruby port
1 Teaspoon cornstarch

Directions

Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heat to 325°F.

Allow pork loin roast to come to room temperature and then season all sides with kosher salt and pepper. Roast until internal temperature of 145° F. Plan on approximately 20 minutes per pound for the roast to come to this temperature. Pull roast and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

While the pork loin is roasting, add the rhubarb, brown sugar, port and cornstarch to a 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a low boil and then simmer until liquid is reduced to about half and the sauce begins to thicken; about 45 minutes. The rhubarb will be fairly broken down yet still slightly chunky. The sauce will thicken even more as it cools.

Slice pork loin into approximately 3/4″ slices and spoon rhubarb port sauce over loin slices and serve.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions are a great condiment to have on hand. Add them to your favorite sandwich, use them on tacos, or add them to a salad. They provide a nice tanginess to food without quite a strong onion taste. They only take about 15 minutes of active prep time and will last stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Quick Pickled red onions 

Ingredients

1 quart water
1 medium red onion
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 small clove of garlic, halved
4 or 5 black peppercorns
4 or 5 allspice berries
2 or 3 small springs of thyme

Instructions

Bring 1 quart water to a boil. Meanwhile peel and slice the onions into no wider than ¼-inch rings. Peel and cut the garlic clove in half. Pour the vinegar into a one-pint mason jar or other suitable glass container. Add the sugar and salt to the vinegar and stir or shake to dissolve. Then add the garlic, peppercorns, allspice berries, and thyme sprigs.

Place the sliced onion rings in a sieve and place the sieve in the sink. Slowly pour the boiling water over the onions. Let the onions drain and cool slightly in the sink. Add the onions to the jar and stir gently to evenly distribute the flavorings.

The onions will be ready in about 30 minutes, but only get better with time. Store the onions in the refrigerator. They will keep for for close to a month in the refrigerator properly sealed.

Sautéed Morel Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

Morels are the truffles of the Midwest. They are heavenly morsels available for a very short time in the spring. Unfortunately, most people simply dredge them through egg and a breading and then fry them in butter. Although I admit they are fantastic that way and I have to make them that way first they are also a very versatile mushroom that lend an earthy goodness to many dishes. They also pair very well with fresh asparagus. Tonight I sautéed them and made a gravy and then served them over a grilled beef tenderloin steak.

Ingredients

½ pound or more of fresh morels cut length-wise in half or quarters if large
1 Large shallot minced
3 Cloves garlic minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ Cup chicken stock
1 Cup heavy cream
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

Heated olive oil in 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots, stir and sauté until softened but not brown. Add butter. When melted add morels. Stir and cook until mushrooms start to brown; about 4 minutes. Add chicken stock, bring to simmer and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until reduced and thickened.

A take on Chimichurri

Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce used on grilled meats and other foods. It is a staple on dinner tables there much like we would use a steak sauce. The only difference is that it doesn’t drown out the flavors of the meat but adds complexity. True chimichurri is very finely chopped. Tonight what I did was a more coarse chop with a few additional herbs.

Ingredients

½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley
½ cup fresh curly parsley
½ cup fresh cilantro
two sprigs fresh rosemary leaves removed from stems
two tablespoons fresh oregano
one tablespoon fresh thyme
3 gloves garlic minced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions

Mix all herbs together and chop as finely as you desire. Move to glass bowl large enough to hold. Add remaining ingredients and stir together. Sit aside for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.

Serve over grilled meats or vegetables. Left over chimichurri may be refrigerated for several days. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Bonus Post! Guacamole!

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I’ve been making a lot of things with avocados lately so I have been buying a lot of avocados. I have also been able to work on perfecting my guacamole.

Here’s what I did for my guacamole tonight:

Ingredients

3 ripe avocados
1 tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalapeño pepper, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt
A few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Juice from one lime

Directions

Combine all ingredients in suitable bowl. Mash avocados with a fork and stir together until well combined. Some chunks of avocado should remain

Here is an informative site that explains how to buy avocados. Avocado Central

Pesto di Noce with Flat Iron Steak & Green Beans Amandine.

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Tonight’s dinner was Pesto di Noce (Pesto with Walnuts) served over a grilled Flat Iron Steak along with green beans Amandine.

Pesto is typically made with Pine nuts. However for this pesto I toasted some English walnuts and added a few sun dried tomatoes. The walnuts give the pesto just a slightly different flavor and the sun dried tomatoes add just a hint of sweetness.

This recipe originally called for a flank steak, however in my area flank steaks are very hard to find. I use the new kid on the block, the flat iron steak, as a worthy substitute whenever a recipe calls for flank steak. If you would like to read more about the flat iron steak simply click here. Flat Iron Steak

I also had some left over crostini from the weekend. I am planning a whole article on the versatility of crostini in the near future so that will have to wait until then. For now, here are the recipes for the steak, pesto and green beans.

Flat Iron Steak

In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce. In a glass bowl, baking dish or my preference a zip lock type baggie, pour the mixture over a flank steak. Let steak marinate for 30 minutes, turning once. I like to use a zip lock type bag because I feel it holds the marinate next to the meat much better and all you simply need to do is flip the bag every once in a while.

On a hot grill, cook steak over high heat, 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. When steak has reached desired doneness, remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Slice the steak against the grain in ½-inch-thick slices. Plate and top with pesto.

Pesto di Noce

Ingredients

1 ½ cups packed basil
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan (you may use all Parmesan if you wish)
2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Process basil, oil, walnuts, Pecorino, Parmesan, tomatoes, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; season with salt and pepper.

Green Beans Amandine

1 lb. Fresh or frozen whole green beans
¼ Sliced almonds
¼ C Real Butter
½ t Kosher Salt
1/8 t Fresh ground pepper

Steam beans until tender-crisp. About 10 to 15 minutes. Melt butter in skillet over low heat. Add salt, pepper and almonds. Right before serving, heat butter, almonds, salt and pepper over medium heat. Stir until almonds just begin to brown. Add beans and fry while continuously stirring for three to four minutes. Serve immediately.

What can I say… you can never get enough pesto. As Susan said while eating tonight, “On the seventh day God created Pesto.”