Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Back in the Saddle with Garlic-Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin

May 25, 2014

Garlic-Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks
Steamed White Rice
Steamed White Corn
2012 Mosel Riesling
Fresh Strawberry Mousse 

Garlic-Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks from Cook's Illustrated
Fresh Strawberry Mousse  from Cook's Illustrated

It's been a long time since my last blog post, and a long time since I cooked a Sunday Dinner. In mid-April I traveled across the country to my home town in central New York state to help my brother and sisters care for my 86-year old father who had broken his hip. My first week there I was helpful, taking my share of shifts in the 24/7 vigil at the hospital. But then unexpectedly I fell ill. After two days resting with no improvement I went to Urgent Care and ended up spending two nights in the hospital. I was no longer helpful. I did gradually recover though sadly my dad did not. He passed away in his sleep on the morning of May 5 from complications of his fall, congestive heart failure, and Alzheimer's Disease. He spent his last days in a nursing home and we would visit daily, getting him out of bed and pushing him around the home in his wheel chair, taking him outside when the weather permitted, which it rarely did.

I had been thinking of discontinuing my almost weekly blog posts which I have been doing now for over two years. However, during my month in Central New York I was able to visit many family members and old friends, more than I would get to see in the typical one-week visit. Several told me they regularly read Sunday, Dinner for Two even though they never post any comments or suggestions. (I wish people would comment more, I would enjoy the interaction and responses from readers.) These encouraging comments and the month off have inspired me to continue. I will make some changes, though, publishing fewer recipes on the companion blog, Sunday, Recipes for Two,  because they take a lot of time to do and don't get very many views. I'm also going to try writing the posts earlier in the week while my memories of the meal are fresher.

Chittenango Falls
Returning to San Jose after a month in New York (Diane had joined me to attend my dad's services), we spent a few days at home before heading out of town again to attend and celebrate the graduation of our daughter, Caryn, from college. Sunday Dinner that weekend was take-out pizza that we ordered after the long drive home and I didn't have too much to say about it. Caryn is back home, too, for a few months at least, preparing for an intensive class to become an EMT. Thus Sunday dinners for a while, will be prepared for three rather than two.

Graduation in the Redwood Bowl at Humboldt State.

Unlike mid April, when I left for New York, warm weather has arrived for good in San Jose. We will be eating dinner outdoors every night until darkness and chilled air drive us back indoors next Autumn. We will be having more fresh, local produce. We will be grilling more, roasting less, and braising less. I selected two recipes from the current issue (May/June 2014) of Cook's Illustrated (CI) for this meal: grilled pork tenderloin and strawberry mousse.

Garlic-Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks is one of several variations of this dish that are available on the CI web site, the others being Spicy Orange-Ginger Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks and Lemon-Thyme Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks; you can choose your favorite citrus fruit to accentuate your pork. I purchased a package of two tenderloins at the supermarket weighing about 2½ pounds total. I cut each tenderloin into thirds so we it would be convenient to have it for two meals. The round sections of tenderloin were pounded into ¾-inch steaks that were then marinated for 45 minutes in a garlic-lime mixture. They were grilled, first over direct heat, 3 minutes a side, then over indirect heat for another 3 minutes. Checking the temperature I found that the steaks had already exceeded the target temperature of 140°. Despite being overcooked, the pork was still a little pink (this is good) and was juicy and tender. The sauce/marinade was well balanced and didn't seem too limey or too garlicy. Overall the meal was easy to prepare and didn't take a lot of time. While I still prefer Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin, this meal is worth preparing again and I would like trying the orange and lemon versions.

Local strawberries are now plentiful in the supermarket though sill a little pricey at $2.50 a pound. This is affordable enough, though, that I didn't feel too guilty trying the strawberry mousse recipe from the same issue of the magazine. (Hulling two pounds of berries would seem a daunting task but it was quickly accomplished, with little waste of the sweet fruit, using a grapefruit spoon. I have tried different tools for this job but none is as good as a simple grapefruit spoon.) The recipe was designed to get  maximum strawberry flavor from bland supermarket berries. To do this, some of the berries are chopped and then strained to collect the juice. The juice is reduced to concentrate the flavors. And it works, the mousse is light and airy, as a mousse should be, and it has good strawberry flavor as well. We got six desserts from two pounds of berries, about the same number of servings as if we had served them over angel food cake or made shortcakes.

It is good to be back home in San Jose though I did enjoy the extended stay  in central New York. After being home for two weeks I feel that I am finally getting caught up with life and so can start moving forward again. What that will mean, only time will tell, but it will include cooking on Sunday and writing about it on Monday. I'm already looking forward to trying out a new grilled chicken recipe next weekend!