This isn’t a photography related post, and the photos aren’t even great (just iPhone snaps, down at the end). It’s not travel related, unless traveling to the kitchen and back counts. It’s food, and I used to do a lot of restaurant reviews and general food related posts on here, but haven’t done that in a while.
But, I’m posting this because it’s fun, it’s delicious, and it’s easy. It’s the Christmas dinner that I made up, as I’m wont to do. It took time, but as you’ll see from the recipe… that just gives more time to enjoy your wine :)
When I cook, I always try to connect each element of the meal with a common ingredient. I think it ties everything together better when every dish is connected by at least one ingredient to another dish on the plate (salt and pepper don’t count). You’ll see this in the recipe below, and I outline the connections at the end.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year.
Slow Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Peaches & Habanero Pepper Reduction
This recipe is easy, but slow. It takes two days, although you could probably shorten the brine and not do the overnight in the fridge and it’d still be almost the same. The actual cooking time was probably five or six hours, but honestly it could have been more. I couldn’t tell you exactly. Plan to be flexible in case it cooks faster or slower than you expect.
First, the basic elements and ingredients. All ingredients are assumed to be of the best quality. Excellent butter. Real cream. Organic pork tenderloin. No skimping here… this is a holiday meal!
- Pork tenderloin (or two)
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Ham/pork stock
- The kind of thermometer that has a readout to leave outside the oven. You’re cooking by temp, not time, and this is gonna take a while.
Brine for Pork
- 2 Qt water
- 1 cup Kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
Peach & Habanero Pepper Reduction
- Peaches, peeled, blanched and sliced. The riper the better. The ones I had had been frozen for a while (a few years) and when they thawed there was a lot of really gooey peach juice. Perfect. Not sure if the fresh ones would do that, although I suspect the blanching will help. If you don’t have gooey, sticky sauce, maybe drop a few slices in a blender and get a liquid out of it. The liquid is important.
- One Habanero pepper
- Sea salt
- Ham/pork stock (from the pork ingredients)
- Some peaches from the peach reduction
- Sweet white wine (Sauternes if you can)
- Cracked black pepper
- Red Potatoes
- Chunk of habanero pepper
- Sea Salt
- Garlic (from the pork ingredients)
- Green Beans
- White wine (same as before)
- Sea Salt
Open a bottle of wine and pour a glass.
Brine the Pork
Put some water (a couple of cups) in a saucepan with all the salt and sugar, and heat it up until the salt and sugar dissolve. Don’t heat up any more than necessary.
Once dissolved, mix with cold water (and ice if necessary to cool quickly if you’re in a rush). Just don’t pour hot water on the pork, m’kay?
Put the pork in a ziploc bag with the brine, and put in a container to contain leaks, and stick in the fridge. The Cooks Illustrated rules are “One hour per pound, but not less than 30 minutes or more than eight hours”. We did eight hours and it was so-ho-ho-ho-good. (I’ve been told that Cooks may have revised their brining time guide to be shorter, and my guide is from 2001, so that may be true. All I can say is, this worked!)
Go drink the rest of that wine. You’ve got eight hours to kill.
Pepper the Pork
Once it’s brined, dump the water, rinse the pork, and dry with paper towels. Dry it really well.
Put the pork tenderloins in a tupperware container and grind a LOT of fresh black pepper on it. Press the pepper into the meat, rotate, grind, press, repeat. You want a crust of pepper embedded all over the pork.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
That bottle of wine better be empty by now.
Get the pork out of the fridge when you finally get your lazy ass out of bed. You want it to be room temperature when you cook it.
Open a bottle and pour the chef a glass of wine.
Preheat oven to 160˚F. You may need to raise the temp towards the end. I did. Then again I don’t think my oven is so accurate. You mileage may vary. You could skip preheating too, and just put the pork in a cold oven and turn on the heat. I’m sure that’d be fine. This is the beauty of cooking slow and by temperature… lots of wiggle room.
Make the pork/ham stock. A couple of cups is plenty.
Sear the Pork
Get a big heavy frying pan, and crank up your range as high as it’ll go. If you have a gas range and a cast iron pan, you’re golden. But even on an electric with a quality thick-bottomed pan, you can do this (I did). Put the pan on dry, and let it get so hot the metal starts to smoke. Add a bit of olive oil, and drop in the tenderloins. Let it sear a minute or two per side, and keep rotating them. Make sure it’s seared all the way around; this seals in the juices. You want the fat to start to caramelize. Yum.
Once seared, set the pork aside. If you got a lot of yummy stuck crispy stuff in the pan, scrape it off and save it for later. Chances are though there’ll be very little worth keeping in the pan.
Into the Oven
The cut of pork tenderloin probably tapers. Shove the thermometer probe into the thinner end; if it goes in the thicker end, then the thin side will be overcooked. That’d be bad.
Put something like a cookie cooling rack into a big deep drippings pan, and put the pork on the rack. You want the pork raised above the surface of the dripping pan.
Pour the ham stock into the pan. Don’t let it touch the meat, it should be under it. I don’t expect much (if anything) to drip from the pork, but if it does, it’ll add flavor to the stock.
Peel the garlic (crush it, lightly), and toss in the stock under the pork.
Put the pan/pork/stock/garlic into the preheated (or not preheated) oven. Don’t forget to leave the readout part of the thermometer out of the oven, where it belongs.
You’re going to cook the pork until it reads 160˚F. This could take… a while. Go enjoy that bottle of wine.
Several hours later
As the meat approaches 100˚F, it’s time to start prepping the reductions.
Peach & Habanero Pepper Reduction
Dump the peaches into a pan and put on very low heat. Within 10 minutes or so you should get a nice simmer going on the peach juice.
Slice about ½ to ⅔ of a habanero as thin as you can (wear rubber gloves and maybe even eye protection. These things are hot). I started with ½ a pepper and it wasn’t enough, so added more. Habaneros range in hotness and so do tastes, of course. You probably want to remove the seeds. You’ll need a chunk of pepper for later, sans seeds, so be sure to set some aside.
side note: Fascinating read on the hotness of habanero and other peppers on Wikipedia: The Scoville Scale
Chop up the sliced peppers as finely as you can, and add to the peaches. Add a pinch or two of sea salt and stir repeatedly over the next few hours. You’ll want to be sure the peppers are well distributed. Taste for hotness as you go. It should have a slow but noticeable burn, and it will get hotter as it cooks.
Keep an eye on your reduction. As the liquid goes away, turn off the heat, cover and set aside. You don’t want to dry this out but you don’t want it to be liquid, either. I think mine simmered for at least 45 minutes, maybe more.
Prep the Rest of Dinner
As the meat approaches 130˚F, it’s time to start prepping the rest of dinner. Probably time to open another bottle of wine, too.
Clean the potatoes. Cut them into quarters. Don’t skin ‘em, but do cut off any nasty bits (obviously). Drop them into some cold water and let them soak for a while to suck the starch out. Also don’t worry about cutting them too evenly. I find that if the potato chunks vary slightly in doneness when you mash them, you get a more textured mashed potato dish.
Clean and trim the ends off your green beans, dry and set aside.
Cook the Rest of Dinner
As the meat approaches 150˚F, it’s time to get serious. Put down that glass of wine. You have work to do.
The following goes in the best order you can muster, not necessarily as written. Try to get it all finished at the same time.
Rinse the potatoes, put ‘em in fresh water with a generous portion of sea salt, toss in that one piece of leftover pepper (⅓ of a pepper or whatever) and cover, put on the highest heat your oven can do and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and keep an eye on them. Test for doneness by pulling a piece and eating it. Please let it cool first. You want them to be firm but cooked all the way through.
Open the oven and have someone tilt the pan for you, and scoop as much of the stock and dripped juices into a sauté pan as you can. Get those yummy slow-roasted garlic cloves out, too.
Chop up the garlic and set aside. Those go into the potatoes as soon as you start mashing them.
Put the sauté pan with the pork stock on the stove, pour in some white wine, a scoop of peach reduction (peaches and sauce), and a whack of butter. You’re going to boil this down to a thick sauce, so let it boil but not burn. Keep an eye on it.
Once cooked, drain the taters into a strainer, and put back in the hot pot (heat still on). Stir a bit and dry out the potatoes, taking care not to burn them. If they start to burn, that’s OK but remove from heat immediately. If you have a ricer, great. If not, mash ‘em with a masher. Don’t use a mixer. Mixers are for wimps.
Mash ‘em up, adding butter, cream, fresh ground pepper, and that roasted garlic you cut up before. How much of everything? Heck I dunno… a bit. Add each ingredient a small bit at a time and judge the consistency as you go. You know what good mashed potatoes should look like… don’t water them down, but don’t make them so thick you need a knife to get through them. Mix it up and cover (on no- or low-heat, depending on how well your pan holds heat and how good your timing is), and keep checking and mixing. Don’t let it dry out, but don’t let it go cold.
Put a bit of wine and a whack of butter into a saucepan and melt, then set aside, waiting for the meat to come out.
Meat is Done!
When the meat hits 160˚F, take it out of the oven, cover in foil and leave to rest while you cook the beans.
Time to cook the beans! Everything else should be done by now.
Put the melted wine/butter mix back on the stove, bring to a near-boil and toss in the the beans. Stir around, cover and steam for a few minutes. Check regularly for doneness; cook to your preference. I like mine very firm, nearly raw but hot. Some like them cooked a bit more. Do it how you like it.
After some time, the wine/butter in the beans will very rapidly go from liquid to caramel. A little caramelizing is great, but overdo it and it’ll taste burned. Try to get some caramel on there. It’s oh-so-nice. That’s the sugars in the Sauternes caramelizing. Lovely.
When the beans are done, dinner is ready!!
Slice the tenderloin into lovely thick juicy slices. Plop a pile of mash on each plate, stack of green beans, and spread out the slices of pork artistically (ha). Pile a bit of peachy habanero goodness on each one, and drizzle some reduction reduction over that.
Pour some more wine, and enjoy.
The Ties Between Dishes
Pork to Reduction Reduction :: Pork stock & drippings
Peach Reduction to Reduction Reduction :: Peaches & Habanero
Reduction Reduction to Green Beans :: White wine
Peach Reduction to Mashed Potatoes :: Habanero pepper
iPhone photos… sorry, nothing better. I wanted to eat!
I hope you enjoy, and if you try this out, do let me know!