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.

Fiesta Pork Chops

This time of year can be a challenge. School is ending and there are a million end of the year activities going on. On top of that, summer practices and ballgames are beginning, the lawn needs to be mowed and all the household chores still need to get done. It can be a real challenge to get dinner on the table, but this recipe can help. It’s just a few ingredients and clean up is easy since it is all made in one skillet. Dinner will be on the table in under 45 minutes from start to finish.

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Fiesta Pork Chops – Pork chops topped with black beans and salsa all made in one skillet so cleanup is minimal.

I’m the first to admit that I will take a short cut in the kitchen if I need to. This recipe calls for canned black beans and jarred salsa. Soaking and cooking beans is not the most difficult thing in the world, but it takes planning ahead. I have no problems using canned beans on occasion and I always make sure my pantry is stocked with several different types.

The pork chops I like to use in this dish are bone-in chops at least three-quarters of an inch thick. You can use boneless if you like, but I think the bone helps develop a deeper flavor. A thinner chop can also be used but it will cook much faster and the liquids may not have as much time to cook down.

Here is what I did:

Fiesta Pork Chops

Ingredients

4 bone-in thick-cut pork chops
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoon oil
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, with liquid
1 cup salsa
3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Season pork chops with pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear pork chops 3 to 5 minutes per side until golden browned.

Stir about 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro into the salsa reserving the remainder. Pour beans and salsa over pork chops. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until liquid is bubbling, then reduce heat to medium-low, loosely cover the skillet, and simmer until chops are no longer pink in the center and liquid has reduced by about half; about 20 to 35 minutes.

Milk and Cream Braised Pork Loin

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I frequently braise meats using wine, beer, broths, or plain water; this recipe uses milk and cream. The wonderful thing about using milk and cream as a braising liquid is that it makes its own gravy as the milk cooks down. The combination of the pork fat, sage, lemon, and black pepper make a truly amazing tasting gravy.

Here is what I did:

Milk and Cream Braised Pork Loin

Ingredients

5 pound pork loin roast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh sage
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
Wide strips of zest from 1 lemon

Directions

Generously season pork loin with salt and pepper. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add pork, beginning with fat side down, and brown on all sides 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Pour off fat from dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When butter melts, add half the sage leaves and fry for a few seconds. Slowly add milk and cream. Then add lemon zest, season to taste with salt, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover dutch oven and gently simmer for 1 hour, turning pork after 30 minutes.

Coarsely chop remaining sage leaves and add to dutch oven. Continue simmering, partially covered, for 1 hour more once again turning meat after 30 minutes. Uncover casserole and continue simmering, turning every 30 minutes, until meat is very tender and milk mixture is pale golden and thick, about 90 minutes more.

Transfer meat to a warm serving platter and slice meat. Spoon sauce over meat and serve.

Garlic Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin

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I use my grill year round. Sure, it’s much more enjoyable to stand outside grilling with a beer in one hand and tongs in the other when it’s sunny and 75° F, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grill when it’s snowing and 22°. It’s one reason they make Scotch.

All joking aside, don’t forget about your grill November through February. There are plenty of days that lend themselves to grilling. Plus, you can make great meals like this Garlic Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin. The sweet, citrusy flavor is sure to brighten your spirits and wake up your mouth. If nothing else, it will get you yearning for spring and then can mojitos be far behind?

Garlic Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients

2 pork tenderloins (approximately ¾ lb each)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grated lime peel
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Directions

Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut small, ¼- to ½-inch-deep slits in top of each pork tenderloin. Insert garlic slices into slits.

In small bowl, mix lime peel, oil, lime juice, honey, salt and pepper until well blended. Divide in half.

When grill is heated, brush pork tenderloins with ½ the lime mixture. Place pork on gas grill over medium heat or on charcoal grill over medium coals; cover grill. Cook 18 to 22 minutes, turning several times, until pork has slight blush of pink in center and meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160°F. During last five minutes of cook time, spoon remaining lime mixture over pork tenderloins. Cut pork into slices to serve.

There’s an app for that: Angels on Horseback

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I love oysters. I love the salty brininess they bring to food so much that I will order them almost every time I see them on a menu except during the summer months. Yes, I follow the “R” rule and only eat oysters during months containing the letter “R.” I am told this rule no longer applies but old habits die hard.

Oysters also remind me of Christmas and my father. One family tradition while growing up was to have oyster stew on Christmas Eve after coming home from Mass and prior to opening presents. A week later, I would tag along with my father on New Year’s Day when he would go up town to the local taverns to eat raw oysters. It is because of this that I often times associate oysters with the holidays.

The following recipe is a bit of twist on the classic hors d’oeuvre Angels on Horseback. Angels on Horseback are simply shucked oysters wrapped in bacon, skewered and then baked in an oven or grilled. They are often times served on toast.

In my revision of the classic hors d’oeuvre, I first fry the bacon crisp and then use the same pan to sauté the oysters in butter, white wine, and the liquor from the oysters along with scallions and garlic. I then serve them on toast points.

Here is what I do:

Ingredients

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic
Baguette cut on the bias into 1″ thick slices
10 Slices bacon cut into thirds
3 Scallions, finely chopped
¼ Cup white wine
2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
8 to 12 oysters, shucked, with juices reserved or ½ pint shucked oysters
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Roughly chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Heat oven to 400° F. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in microwavable bowl. Brush baguette slices with the butter and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly toasted then set aside.

While baguette is toasting, cook bacon in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Transfer bacon plate lined with paper towels to drain and set aside. Drain bacon grease from pan but do not wipe pan. (Bacon grease can be used for another use.) Melt remaining butter in the skillet and then add the garlic and scallions. Cook garlic and scallions until soft; about 3 minutes. Add wine, lemon juice, and oysters with their juices. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about three minutes until oysters begin to curl at the edges. Using a slotted spoon, transfer oysters to a bowl and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Continue to cook sauce until thickened and reduced by half. Spoon sauce, dividing evenly, over toast points. Top each point with an oyster and two or three reserved bacon pieces. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

There’s an app for that: Candied Bacon

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I am always looking for great appetizers that are easy and crowd pleasing. This recipe for candied bacon fits the bill. Make sure you use a thick-cut, good quality bacon and real 100% maple syrup. Do not use pancake syrup which is maple flavored, high fructose corn syrup.

As I said, this recipe is so easy. It only take about five minutes of prep time and 30 to 45 minutes of cook time.

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Ingredients

1 pound good quality bacon, sliced
2 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup (Do not use pancake syrup.)
¼ Cup brown sugar
2 Teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ Teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ Teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350° F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a wire rack. Mix the maple syrup, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Add the bacon to the bowl and toss gently with your hands making sure that all of the slices are evenly coated. Place the bacon in a single layer onto the wire rack. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes. The bacon will be a bit brown, but will most likely need to bake for another 10-20 minutes depending on thickness. It should look slightly dark and crispy but not burnt. If you take it out too soon, the texture will be chewy. Patience is certainly a virtue with this.

Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on the rack. Don’t let them sit too long or else they will stick. Once cool enough to handle, you can break the bacon into chards or cut roughly into thirds. You’ll have about 30 pieces. You can leave them whole if you would like.

Serve at room temperature.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Thai Inspired Peanut Sauce

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One of the most moist, tender cuts of meat is the pork tenderloin. In some markets outside the United States, this cut is referred to as a pork filet which may be more accurate. The equivalent beef cut is the beef tenderloin used to make filet mignon. The pork tenderloin cut, though, does get confused with the pork loin eye cut which is an excellent choice for a pork roast. Adding to the confusion is the use of the pork loin to make the pork tenderloin sandwich; a great sandwich but not nearly as tender as a pork tenderloin.

Here is one way that I like to prepare a pork tenderloin:

Ingredients

½ cup chunky, unsweetened peanut putter plus 2 tablespoons additional
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 piece freshly grated ginger (1 inch cube)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 1 ½ pound pork tenderloin

Directions

Combine peanut butter, coconut milk, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, ginger, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in glass bowl. Whisk until thoroughly  combined. Divide in half. Place pork tenderloin in one gallon zipper stye storage bag and pour one-half the sauce over tenderloin making sure tenderloin is completely covered. Remove as much air as possible, seal, and store in refrigerator for at least one hour or until ready to grill.

Whisk in an additional 2 tablespoons peanut butter into remaining sauce to slightly thicken and set aside keeping at room temperature.

Heat grill to medium heat. About 30 minutes before grilling, remove tenderloin from refrigerator keeping it in the plastic bag. When ready to grill, remove tenderloin from marinade and discard marinade. Grill over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes (5 to 6 minutes per side). Remove from grill and let tenderloin rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into ½ inch slices. Spoon reserved peanut sauce over slices and serve.