Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Recipe: Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Port Sauce

I have made this pork tenderloin so many times, I really couldn't believe I hadn't posted its recipe here yet. This is one of my signature dishes and goes well with risotto, polenta, mashed potatoes or my famous potato-apple gratin. (saved for a later post) I have varied the spice mixture on occassion only to find that the following is my favorite combination.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Port Sauce

1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
Pinch of ground allspice
1 12-ounce pork tenderloin

2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 onion cut into 8 large pieces
8 garlic cloves peeled

¾ cup port
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Mince garlic clove then mash to a paste with salt. Combine in small bowl with white pepper, thyme, and allspice. Place Pork Tenderloin on a large sheet of plastic wrap and rub mixture into all sides of the meat. Wrap the port tenderloin in the plastic wrap and refrigerate from 1 hour up to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If making with the potato-apple gratin, 350 degrees is fine.

Heat olive oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. (Do not use non-stick.) Brown pork in skillet on all sides. Half way through browning, place onion and garlic around pork tenderloin to carmelize the outer edges. Place the skillet in the oven and bake the tenderloin to desired doneness, 30-40 minutes. (About 30 minutes for medium, or take it out as soon as the internal temperature is 145 degrees) The onion and garlic will roast and become very tender. Transfer tenderloin to a platter placing onion and garlic around it and cover with foil to keep warm.
Pour out any excess oil in pan (do not wipe it out) leaving any brown bits. Add port to skillet and reduce over high heat scraping up brown bits. When port becomes thick and jammy, remove from heat and add unsalted butter in pieces stirring until melted and incorporated. If necessary, salt and pepper sauce to taste. Serve pork sliced with onions, garlic, and port sauce.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Thai Curry with Shrimp

Thai curry is one dish of which I have made many variations-from scratch or out of the jar, red or green, with chicken, shrimp, or beef. Whatever combination, it has never disappointed. I once made red Thai curry paste consisting of chilis, lemon grass, galangal and other ingredients in my authentic Thai mortar and pestle. Unfortunately, after all the elbow grease and time committed to finding ingredients, it tasted very similar to store-bought jarred curry. On the plus side, I had a large batch of curry paste that thankfully keeps for quite a long time in the refrigerator. Even though I am normally an advocate for using fresh ingredients when possible, today I used a green curry paste out of a jar. In case you're wondering, green curry is made from green chilis while red is made from red chilis, therefore, green curry is usually hotter than red (think jalapenos vs. red thai chilis)

The real ingenuity in this dish is the balance of flavors of heat and sweet. I often use chicken or strips of flank steak, but I especially like shrimp in this curry. Added at the very last step, the shrimp will be cooked to just the right tenderness and its sweetness will contrast the heat of the chilis. I highly recommend buying a jar of curry paste or grinding some yourself and start experimenting.

Thai Curry with Shrimp

1 Tablespoon peanut oil
1 Tablespoon Green or Red Curry paste
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk allowed to separate (I like Chaokoh)

1/3 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons fish sauce

1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup bamboo shoots
1 sweet potato, halved then sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 small chinese eggplant, halved, then cut into 1 inch chunks

8 ounces peeled large shrimp

Heat peanut oil in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Then add 1 tablespoon curry paste and cook until fragrant. Add the thick cream from the top of the coconut milk to the curry paste and stir to combine. Cook until the oil separates, then add the rest of the coconut milk. (If you are using low fat coconut milk, skip this step and just add it all at once.) Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Then add basil leaves, bamboo shoots, sweet potato, and eggplant. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Lastly, stir in shrimp, turn off heat, and cover for about 2 minutes. Stir to ensure the shrimp are cooked evenly. When the shrimp are pink and curled, serve the curry over fragrant jasmine rice.