Although from the entries lately it may seem like I am trying to eat as many of god’s creatures as possible, this is actually not the case. Seems like all we’ve been munching on lately are roasts and ribs and steaks and the like. I promise that relief is in sight: one more carnivorous post in the queue, and I’ll switch gears. A diet (shudder) may be in the works soon. Sadly the extra few pounds I worked so hard putting on over the winter are taking their sweet time coming off. Keeping a food blog is not actually turning out to be a good way to keep my girlish figure. It has been suggested that occasionally preparing a vegetable or two may help in this regard.
When I lived near Charlotte, North Carolina my family had a few restaurants we dined at for special occasions. Frank Manzetti’s was the casual favorite, but since they were basically keeping the area cardiologists in fresh BMWs, my mother nixed that one. The house specialty was a 22-ounce bone-in Pittsburgh ribeye with a side of Fettucini Alfredo. Another favorite place was the Bistro 100, which no longer seems to be alive. It’s sad because it was one of the first places I ever ate that showed me food could be both fun and fine. One of their dishes became one of the first I learn to make on my own, the one I turned to when the big guns were needed. The original dish was small and simple, just a peppercorn-crusted tenderloin, served over a bed of wilted spinach with fresh applesauce. Needless to say, the spinach disappeared from my version. Since those college days this has evolved a bit. Hopefully I have, too. This recipe is best started a day ahead of when you plan to serve it because of the brining.
1 cup boiling water
1 gallon cold water
1 cup sea or kosher salt
1/4 cup molasses (or brown sugar)
1 tbs cloves
Dissolve the molasses and salt in the hot water and dump in the cold water and add the cloves. Taste it to make sure it isn’t too salty for your liking – it shouldn’t make you cringe when you taste it, so add more water as needed. Pour over the meat (brining works for chops, tenderloin, roasts) in a dish deep enough to keep the meat covered. Allow to soak in the fridge overnight. Brining meat allows flavor and moisture to permeate it, resulting a much more tender and juicy piece of meat. The length of time you allow it to soak depends on the cut. The long striated muscle in the tenderloin will draw the moisture in quickly, whereas the fatty parts of the whole loin or roast will take longer. Pork cutlets and chops do not need as long – 2 or 3 hours at the outside. You really don’t want anything to soak for more than 15-20 hours regardless of size. Other flavors (cloves, cider, garlic, onions, orange juice, etc.) can be added – the only real requirements are that you use about 1 cup of salt per gallon, and make sure that the entire piece of meat is covered in the brine solution.
Remove the tenderloin from the liquid and pat dry. Rub it with a little olive oil and set aside to rest. Grind out a few coarse tablespoons of black pepper. Roll the meat in this, pressing hard so it sticks. Preheat your grill to flaming hot, and and sear the tenderloin on all sides, taking care not to burn or dislodge that lovely pepper crust. Turn the heat all the way down to low (on my grill anyway – ymmv), and flip the meat over after about 10 minutes.
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup pecans (or slivered almonds, pine nuts, or walnuts)
1/4 cup white raisins
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
6 tbs butter
Heat the butter over medium heat until it foams, and add the apples. Saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften and add the rest of the ingredients. Saute until the nuts have browned a bit and the raisins plump up. This works well with cranberries instead of raisins and sometimes I add ground red pepper for more kick. I’ll serve this by slicing the pork thinly, and then drizzling the apples and nuts around it.