Pork

Pork Loin and Mango salsa

Whole Foods (a.k.a Whole Paycheck) just opened a new store in Irvine near our recently acquired home. It’s a 40,000 square foot extravaganza of all manner of produce, meat, prepared foods, and many other assorted goodies. If you shop carefully (By “carefully” I mean not purchasing pre-peeled oranges in plastic containers. Really? We can’t even take the time to peel an orange anymore?), you CAN walk out of there without having to take a second mortgage out on your home. 

While browsing the plethora of fruit and veg, I spied some petite, yellow mangoes (they’re technically called Atualfo mangoes) and immediately thought: pork! Because I had two college boys home for spring break, and they love the “other white meat,” the deal was sealed.

You want your mangoes to be ripe, like avocados. If they’re too hard, you will not be able to cut through them (only your fingers). Don’t be shy. Give them the old Charmin squeeze before you make your final decision.

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Mango Salsa

1 large lime, zested and juiced

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

2 jalapenos, de-seeded and diced small

3 small mangos (Ataulfo), peeled and diced small

1 tbsp. EVOO

Pinch of kosher salt

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Mix all of these items together and let sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Longer if possible

Pork Loin Rub

3-4 lb. pork loin

1 ½ tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. onion powder

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. ancho chili powder

3 tbsp. smoked paprika

4 tbsp. brown sugar

Mix all of the spices together.

Liberally rub the mix all over the pork loin and let sit for 4-5 hours. It’s even better if you can let is sit overnight.

Roast the meat in a 400-degree oven until the pork reaches 140-degrees. The meat will come up another 5-degrees and reach the optimal temperature of 145 – degrees. Each oven is different, but it should take 45-60 minutes. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest before you slice into it.

Eat well!

April

“Don’t expect mangoes when you plant papayas” – Mimfa A. Gibson

 

 

 

 

Bone-In Pork Chops with Dijon Rosemary Pan Sauce

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It’s been a bit gloomy here in Laguna. The marine layer is every present in the morning and has been loitering all day.  Such was the case yesterday, which gave me the hankering for something hearty to eat. No light summer fare, but something meaty and pan roasted with a robust sauce. I thought: pork roast with rosemary and Dijon!

Last Thursday I had major foot surgery and I’ve been getting around on either my crutches, or my knee walker. A knee walker looks a little bit like a scooter and it’s very embarrassing to be seen scooting around like an old lady. Needless to say, I haven’t left the house since I bum walked down our back stairs after my discharge from the surgery center. And because it was my right foot that fell prey to the knife, I’m unable to drive; therefore, I am completely dependent on my offspring to grocery shop. Let me begin by saying how very thankful I am for having such helpful, thoughtful, and independent young people to rely upon. Now, let me tell you that 9 out of 10 times they come home without at least one item that I had written on the grocery list. I guess it’s a lost in translation thing?? Anyway, one of my delightful children brought home a bunch of honking bone-in pork chops yesterday rather than the lean pork loin roast I had requested. I made a small mental adjustment and, after opening the gynormous package, I said, “perfect, thanks so much!”

I served the chops and sauce along with a creamy Israeli cous cous (I call it cous cous risotto) and haricot vert tossed with a minced shallot. Here are the ingredients for the chops and the sauce:

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  • 5 bone-in organic 2″ thick pork-chops (ours came from Whole Foods)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 generous tablespoons quality Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or clarified butter (high smoke point because milk solids have been removed)
  • 2 tablespoon grapeseed oil (high smoke point)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pre-heat your oven to 400. You will finish your chops in the oven.
All the ingredients for a dinner that will feed five "normal" people (ours only covered three...we have teenage boys at home)

All the ingredients for a dinner that will feed four “normal” people (ours only covered three…we have teenage boys at home)

Season your chops with salt at least an hour before cooking (mini brine) and let them come up to room temperature (also called tempering the meat) so they cook evenly.

Season your chops with salt at least an hour before cooking (mini brine) and let them come up to room temperature (also called tempering the meat) so they cook evenly.

Mince your shallot.

Mince your shallot.

Chop your rosemary.

Finely chop your rosemary.

Heat your ghee and grapeseed oil until your oil begins to shimmer.

Heat your ghee and grapeseed oil until your oil begins to shimmer.

Add freshly cracked pepper to your chops in put them into the hot pan. I cook with gas and they are on medium heat.

Add freshly cracked pepper to your chops and place them into the hot pan. I cook with gas and my pan stays on med. the entire time. Be certain the pan is nice and hot before putting in the chops, or they will stick and you will inevitably have to rip them off, making a mess of their beautiful caramelized appearance. You’ll end up with raggedy looking chops.

Now, here’s the hard part: DO NOT TOUCH THE CHOPS! If you have to tie your hands behind your back, do so. Enlist someone to untie you after the chops have been cooking for at least 10 minutes, or until they easily release from the pan.

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Once you flip them over – after 10 minutes on one side – flip them over and pop the pan into the oven.

Check them in another 10 minutes with a meat thermometer. You are aiming for 140 degrees. They will rise in temp. as they rest. Be sure to check the little ones first as they will obviously cook faster.

Check them in about another 10 minutes and use a meat thermometer. You are aiming for 140 degrees. They will rise in temp. as they rest. Be sure to check the little ones first as they will obviously cook faster.

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I place them in a little tented up piece of aluminum foil with the sides bent up to capture the juices, which will be added to the pan sauce.

I rest them in a little tented up piece of aluminum foil with the sides bent up to capture the juices, which will be added to the pan sauce.

Now the sauce.

Remember that your pan handle is VERY hot from being in the oven. Drain the grease from the pan and be sure not to dispose of any of the tasty fond (roasty bits at the bottom of the pan). The fond will help build a porky flavor!

Remember that your pan handle is VERY hot from being in the oven. Drain the grease from the pan and be sure not to dispose of any of the tasty fond (roasty bits at the bottom of the pan). The fond will help build a porky flavor!

Add your minced shallots to the pan and put it on med-low.

Add your minced shallots to the pan and put it on med-low.

Add your chicken stock and bring to a slow simmer.

Add your chicken stock and bring to a slow simmer.

Add your Dijon and blend.

Add your Dijon and blend.

Add the rosemary and then the juices from the resting chops. Season with salt and pepper. Your sauce is ready!

Add the rosemary and then the juices from the resting chops. Season with salt and pepper. Your pan sauce is ready!

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Pork is supposed to be slightly pink inside. When it's completely white it's completely dry.

Pork is supposed to be slightly pink inside. When it’s completely white it’s completely dry.

Giant chop!

Giant chop!

Now, I’ve got to go think about what I’m going to make for dinner while I wheel around on my absurd scooter. The sun’s out today!

Eat well!

April

Open Fire Pork Loin

Roger was planning on being out of town last weekend, so I decided to take the kids tent camping. After an exhaustive online search of campgrounds, I was able to procure an awesome site in the Sequoia National Forest. We had a woodsy stream-side site that couldn’t have been more perfect…unless, of course, it had a flushing toilet, running water, and a shower.

The first morning, before the kids had crawled out of their tents, I set up the camping stove and began frying up some bacon. If anything can rouse a bunch of sleepy teenagers, it’s definitely the mouthwatering aroma of cooking bacon. About 10 minutes after adding the second batch of bacon to my pan, a small fire erupted to the left of the burner. Before I could investigate the origin of the flames, I had a major conflagration on my hands. At this point, Greg had emerged from his tent and saw that I was dealing with a significant situation. Thankfully, he reacted quickly and unscrewed the mini-propane tank before it spread down the line and detonated. (Thank you, Boy Scouts!) Needless to say, I was shaking like a leaf. We determined that the insulation around the hose had pretty much broken down (it’s a very old stove) and it was resting on a piece of the stove that was becoming intensely hot.

The good news was that the bacon was pretty much cooked at this point. The bad news was that my plan of cooking the pork loin I had brought with us was now out the window. My only source of heat for cooking was now the fire pit in the middle of the site. I’ve cooked over an open fire before, but it’s only been braising with a Dutch oven. The pork loin needed to be seared, etc. before braising and I had only brought my extra large sauté pan, without its cover. As anyone who’s been primitive camping knows, being out in the wilderness will bring out the MacGyver in all of us (or MacGruber in my case). After we cleaned up the breakfast mess, and I had stopped trembling, we set out for a 12 mile hike. This gave me plenty of time to come up with an alternate plan of action.

Let’s start with the ingredients of the recipe:

  • 1 open fire
  • 1 large sauté pan
  • 5 tomatillos, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1.5 lb pork loin
  • 1 13 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • Juice from one lime for deglazing your pan
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Espelette
  • 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper

The first task was to remove any of the silver skin on the pork loin. If you don’t do this, the membrane will constrict and the meat will be tough. As you can see, I performed this action on aluminum foil so I didn’t contaminate the cutting board, etc. It’s tough to adequately clean surfaces out in the wilderness!

The next step was dicing my tomatillos, onion, and chopping my cilantro.

I put my pan over the fire and added the oil. As soon as I saw the oil was beginning to shimmer, I unwrapped my pork loin (I wrapped it in aluminum foil to keep the buggies off of it..there were bees and flies everywhere!), seasoned it with salt and pepper, and added it to the pan.

Once I had a nice caramelization on all sides of the loin, I deglazed the pan with the lemon juice and threw in the onion, tomatillos, cilantro, and let the onions cook until they were slightly translucent.

Then I added the rest of the ingredients and covered the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

The fire needed to be tended constantly, so I left that up to Greg and moved on to the pre-cooked brown rice I had brought with me. I had originally planned on warming this up on the camping stove in a small pan. Since this was no longer an option, I poured the rice into an aluminum foil pouch that I created and wrapped it tightly. I also wrapped a baguette of French bread and put them on the space next to the pan once I felt the pork was halfway done.

I always carry a digital meat thermometer in my knife roll and that’s how I determined when the pork was finished. I inserted the thermometer in the middle of the loin at a horizontal angle. I pulled the pan off the heat once the loin had an internal temperature of 140. As your meat rests, the temperature continues to rise to the perfect temp. you of 145-150. Any higher than this and your meat will be dry and tough.

After 10 minutes of rest, I cut the meat into medallions and covered them with the pan sauce. The medallions were served over brown rice and accompanied by butter smeared pieces of warm baguette. It turned out to be delicious!

Scout drooling dirt and waiting patiently for someone to drop some of their dinner. Of course, he was such a good camping/hiking dog we had to give him a few table scraps!

Eat well!

April