Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Chimichurri

Pork is my absolute favorite meat to eat...hands down the best contribution ever made to society! Now despite my fondness for the pig, I do not eat pork tenderloin all that much, but after watching a Top Chef episode, I was inspired to make one myself.

Now this Top Chef episode had a "Miami" themed challenge and I thought to myself, geez, I could make something like this.

I made a Chimichurri ( a sauce native to south america, mostly made from parsley, garlic, vinegar, chili flakes, and some other ingredients) and used about 3/4 of this to marinate the tenderloin in for a few hours. After this crucial marinating time, I cleaned the tenderloin off, and heated my grill pan to a medium-high. Sear each side for about 4-5 minutes, and let it rest for another 5 min off the stove.

For a side, I chose to infuse some white wine in my rice, and cook it with some garbanzo beans. This compliments the pork wonderfully since you can top everything with the reserved marinade you saved. The pork should be faintly pink in the middle, which is ok. The chimichurri is bright, sour, herby, and spicy...absolutely wonderful in flavor!

Let me know if you'd like this recipe, since it's on of those you have to have in your repertoire!

Goods eats!


Chinese New Years Crab

Crab is a food I rarely eat, and a luxury I have never cook at home. Now for Chinese New Years, it seemed apropos to eat something that would encompass all of the great things to come.

I went to whole foods, since crab was on sale, and really, it wasn't expensive at all! I bought 2 crabs, and had them cleaned and chopped up...which takes care of half of the mise en place (prep). At home it's hard to get any wok as high in btu's than most Chinese restaurants, so the generic "high" setting on my stove seemed a little futile.

Jessica likes spicy things, to the point where if I'm sweating bullets, she comments it has "flavor". So of course spicy crab was on the way. I made a slurry of oyster sauce, soy paste, siracha, cornstarch and stock which was used as the base for the sauce, mostly for background flavors and a proper sauce consistency. Chilis of choice were Serranos and jalapeƱos, which provided enough "flavor"!

Basically you get the wok screeching hot to the point where the oil dances around like water, and you add the crab to cook it through. The key to good wok cooking is constantly moving your product around so nothing ever has time to stick. After cooking the crab through, add your chilies, slurry, and some finely minced ginger and garlic. Keep tossing for a few minutes and serve this crab immediately.

Fiery finger-licking good is only a few words to describe this dish...get a handful of napkins and a good drink, and you'll be thanking yourself that you stayed in to make this dish!

Xin nian hao (post is far past the new years :)


Mexican Breakfast Nachos

Sometimes you feel like nachos...and sometimes you feel like nachos for breakfast! The brilliance of any nacho "inspired" dish is that you can really put together anything you want, and have it taste amazingly good with very few ingredients.

About 8 months ago I bought a mini was actually more of an impulse buy that I justified to myself as being "practical", yet, there is something so adorable about anything that is "mini" so a swipe of the card, and 20 minutes later, and it was mine.

Now that I had in my possession, the instrument of high calories, I decided to make my own tortilla chips. I cut up some corn tortillas I had in my refrigerator and deep fried those suckers, sprinkling salt as they exited the fryer. Now for breakfast, you have to have eggs...this is a arguments, ifs, ands, or what else goes well with eggs? Cheese! With a jalapeno, a small plum tomato, onion, a lime and some cilantro, there really is only one course of action....salsa fresca! So naturally this dish becomes "Mexican" by the inherent mixture of these components.

I stacked the chips on the bottom, added some loosely scrambled eggs, and some mozzarella cheese (not that Mexican, but oh well) and decided, why not some kidney beans (i love these beans!)...I threw this combo under my broiler to melt the cheese, and added the salsa on top with a garnish of parsley! A squeeze of lime, and Voila....this is a great pick me-up after a long night out!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Basic Meat and Potatoes

Meat and Potatoes is something you just can't get enough of, and when done right, can be an example of simple perfection.

When I pick out a steak, I usually look for a pretty thick cut, with even marbling and a uniform shape.  Usually I like the New York cuts since I think they have more flavor, but this time I couldn't resist the Ribeye.  I cook most of my thick meats in the same fashion, a hard sear and finished in the oven.

An important tip to remember when cooking large cuts of meat is that you have to leave them out a bit before you're ready to cook them (20-30 minutes).  This ensures that the center of your meat is as close to room temperature and allows for even cooking.  Often you take meat out of the refrigerator and you get a cooked outside, and a cold center.  This helps prevent uneven cooking.

Season generously with salt and pepper (in general more seasoning is better on this thick cut)

So I sear the outside of the meat for about 2 minutes on each side, on a medium-high heat until you get a thick crust.  This makes for great texture and flavor.  It's important to sear evenly (which I didn't do this time, oops!) which means you have to spend the time to patiently sear both sides, instead of searing one side better than the other.  Throw the steak, in your oven safe pan into a 400F oven, for 13-14 minutes for a steak that's about 1.5-2 inches thick.  Pull the steak from the oven, and let the steak REST on a board (generally about 1/3 the time that you cooked for)....very important when you have large cuts to let the meat rest to let all the juices redistribute.

I make a pan gravy with the bits from the pan I seared the steak in (watch out for the handle of the pan to be extremely hot when making gravy).  Start with a medium heat and saute some shallots in the pan drippings until softened.   Add a few knobs of butter and equal parts flour to make a roux, and let this cook for a minute or so to cook out the flour taste.  Add beef broth and cream and bring to a boil while stirring.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Accompany with a side of mashed potatoes (finished through a ricer of course) that is seasoned with Parmesan Reggiano, salt and pepper, and some cream or milk.  Add chives as a garnish and you're set.

A crusty steak and creamy potatoes is one dinner you can keep coming back to, since there can be so many wonderful variations on this, but basic is always a winner when done right.  Master the basics, and you're well on your way to greatness.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Braised Lamb Shank

There's something magical that happens when you braise....your eyes become enormous, your nose tingles with the steam escaping from the pot....and you behold the hours where stubbornly tough meat transforms to delicate fork tender goodness....this is braising!

I was shopping around Berkeley Bowl (an organic market in Berkeley), and feasted my eyes on Lamb Shanks.  I do not eat lamb very often, since at regular markets its astronomically priced for the amount of actual meat you get, but today was another day.  Whenever you can get meat on the bone, it is well worth it.  The bone and meat are symbiotic so it is only natural that meat with a bone is uber flavorful!

Simple preparation is used here....basic searing of the meat, accompanied with developing some aromatics as base flavors, is the way to tackle this daunting task.  A few hours later, you're left with fall off the bone tender meat...succulent in the best ways, and feeling a little cheap that it's gone before you could really enjoy it.

Pair this with some whole pearl onions that were cooked in the braising liquid, and a silky smooth mash infused with cream and Parmesan cheese, and you have a great meal with a certain bit of shock and awe.

Say you made this, and deny you have leftovers!  Be greedy for yourself and your loved ones, because you'll make many friends with this dish...