Friday, November 9, 2012

Our Favorite Pork Tenderloin

September 30, 2012
  • Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
  • Boiled Potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Vella Chardonnay
  • Tarte Tatin
For many months I was able to keep up with these blog posts. But I've somehow found a way recently to fall behind. Being home alone for two months is part of the problem as I had not only my own chores to do but Diane's, too. She's been home for several weeks which should have provided me some chance to get caught up, but alas that hasn't happened, as other obligations got in the way. First it was some volunteer work for Destination Imagination, then I was spending time deciding how to vote on the score or so ballot propositions for this year's November election. Then I was too ill to sit at a computer. Sigh.

I try to make notes after each Sunday dinner, and I have many photos, but still it will be a challenge to think back and remember enough about the dinners to write something intelligent, but I'll do my best (the Cub Scout motto) as I endeavor to catch up. I think the blogs are better when I write them immediately after the meal while the story is fresh in my mind, so this should provide some additional motivation to clear the back log.

This dinner featured our favorite recipe for pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is a very lean cut, the absence of fat makes it easy to overcook leading to a dry, bland main dish. Brining the meat can help add moisture and flavor but this recipe eschews this step, instead using a delicious sweet glaze to add flavor plus careful cooking to avoid dryness.  The recipe is for two tenderloins but, as I was still home alone, I cooked a single tenderloins which weighed just over one pound without reducing the quantities of the other ingredients. Doing so would be difficult as it is hard to have a half pinch of something and it would have been difficult to control the temperature of the smaller amount of sauce as it cooked in our large skillet. I purchased a Grade B maple syrup, something I'd been wanting to do for some time, for its richer, deeper flavor in comparison to the more common Grade A. Instead of whole grain mustard I substituted Dijon because that's what was in the refrigerator.

The pork was cooked to an internal temperature of 145°. This matches a recent USDA recommendation which also provides assurances that it is OK to eat pink pork to long as it is cooked to this temperature. The resulting pork was indeed a little pink and it was also very juicy and flavorful. We've all been conditioned to be wary of under cooked pork, and the color of this pork can be a little unsettling. However, I will trust the Test Kitchen's recommendation, my thermometer, and the USDA.

Fall is apple season and apples go very well with pork. Chef John apparently agrees with me as he published a recipe for Tarte Tatin, an apple dish that I was not previously familiar with and which is similar  to Skillet Apple Pie and Apple Pandowdey. It's a pretty simple dish to make: you smear butter on a skillet, cover it with sugar, than place apples on top. You cook it on the stove to caramelize the sugar and apples, add a crust, and bake. The recipe is for a 10-inch skillet but I only have a 12-inch skillet. So, I used 4 medium Granny Smith apples instead of 3 as called for in the recipe and after caramelizing the sugar and apples, I scooched everything towards the center of the pan before adding the crust. After baking the tarte is turned out onto a place so the crust is on the bottom. As shown in the Food Wishes video, some of the crust and apples stuck to the pan but they were easily scraped out and added to the serving plate. I was concerned before making the recipe that it would be too sweet with the caramel overpowering the flavor of the apples, but this didn't turn out to be a problem. The dessert is very good with the caramel complementing the flavor of the apples and with a nice, flaky crust. The recipe contains no spices but I didn't miss them, the caramel was sufficient.

Maple-glazed Pork Tenderloin from Cook's Illustrated
Tarte Tatin from Food Wishes

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