pork

Portuguese Dinner Party

Patrick and I recently took an incredible class on Portuguese wine at our favorite local wine shop, DCanter.  Neither of us know a ton about wine, basically just what we like and don’t like, but wine classes are a great way to learn more about certain regions and what they are known for.  One you know you like certain varietals from a certain country it makes shopping a lot easier!  We love the classes at DCanter (what a cute name right??) and this one was no exception.  We stopped in Portugal over our honeymoon and drank some great wine while we were there so the class really helped us identify different labels that we like.  Of course we brought several bottles home that were part of the class (the Marcolino Sebo QP Colheita Seleccionada Red and the Quinta da Raza Grande Escolha Alvarinho white).  I decided that a dinner party was in order with Portuguese foods to match the wine.  I already had some great Portuguese olive oil on hand and Spanish chorizo sausage which is very close to the chorico that they serve in Lisbon.  I found these great almonds from a region called Douro (that also makes great wine) at Whole Foods so I was on my way to a menu!

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It was a lovely night out so we decided to do the first course out on the deck.  The chorizo thinly sliced served along with some Spanish cheeses (no luck on Portuguese cheese!) and those lovely Douro almonds.  I also marinated some green olives and set those out which went really nicely with the crisp white wine.

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Shrimp Mozambique

In addition to the cheese board I knew I wanted some seafood on the menu.  Portugal has gorgeous fish markets all over and the influence on their food from global trading is really evident.  These shrimp are the prefect example – they get their name and flavor profile from Mozambique which used to be a Portuguese colony.  This recipe is incredibly easy to make and actually comes from a restaurant in Fall River, Massachusetts where there is a huge Portuguese community.

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Portuguese Style Garlic Roasted Pork

Arguably the most famous person to come out of Fall River, MA is Emeril Lagasse.  Most people assume that he is from New Orleans but actually he is a proud son of Massachusetts.  Listen to his cooking shows and every once and a while you will hear his accent!  While he became famous for his Southern cooking, he has many family favorite Portuguese recipes that he has made very accessible.  This pork dish is unbelievably flavorful.  It takes forever to make but it’s really hands off and the smell of your house will be incredible.  Also the left overs made an amazing sandwich.  I served this along fluffy white rice.

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Sauteed Kale

Kale is ubiquitous in Portuguese cooking, especially their famous kale soup.  This quick side comes together at the last minute and is a good foil to the rich pork dish.

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Strawberry Marscapone Tart with Port Glaze

If you are having a Portuguese dinner party then you have to end it with port right?  We had a great time when we were in Lisbon trying out different ages and styles of port at their Solar do Vinho do Porto, an actual institute of port.  To serve with a nice glass of port this dessert also makes use of it in the sauce drizzled over the strawberries.  Absolutely delicious and the perfect way to end a tour of Portuguese wines and food.  Where to next??

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Pistachio Crusted Pork Medallions

If you were wondering what to make with the fabulous Roasted Carrots with Vadovan Yogurt Sauce (Tuesday’s post) then this is the ticket.  My go to for easy weeknight pork dishes is usually my Crusted Pork Tenderloin but it was starting to bore me a bit.  Sometimes when you include a recipe in your rotation too much it’s a good idea to bench it for a while – then when you reintroduce it to the mix it will feel like new again!  I had been seeing a lot of carrot dishes with crunchy, salty pistachios on top so I knew the two would go well together.  Using the nuts as part of the breading I coated the pork and first browned it in the pan and then finished it off in the oven so it was evenly cooked.  The result is a super crunchy crust – almost schnitzel like but with a nutty edge.  I did some polenta as a bed with the carrots on the side and the whole thing comes together in 30 minutes.

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I hope those of you in the reach of this reportedly epic snow storm have a safe and warm weekend.  Expect lots of slow cooker and warming recipes on the blog in the next couple of weeks as I will be doing LOTS o’ cooking.  DC doesn’t really do snow so the grocery stores are already completely bare – this is when having a well stocked pantry and basically a wine store in your basement really pays off!   What are you all planning on making to keep you warm and from going stir crazy??

Pistachio Crusted Pork Medallions (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  a new way of doing weeknight pork
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a shallow bowl mix the breadcrumbs with the pistachios and set aside.  Season the pork medallions with salt and pepper and then coat with the mustard.  Press each medallion into the breadcrumb and pistachio mixture, making sure all sides are crusted.  Place on a lined baking sheet (I used wax paper).

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In a large skillet heat the olive oil (enough to coat the entire pan) over medium high heat.  Place the medallions in the pan (if they don’t all fit do this in batches – the pork will shrink a bit once they have cooked so you can fit them all once browned to go into the oven).  Cook for 2 minutes per side until nicely browned and then place in the oven to roast for 10 more minutes or until they have reached 145 degrees.  Let rest for a couple of minutes then serve.

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Pistachio Crusted Pork Medallions

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a shallow bowl mix the breadcrumbs with the pistachios and set aside.  Season the pork medallions with salt and pepper and then coat with the mustard.  Press each medallion into the breadcrumb and pistachio mixture, making sure all sides are crusted.  Place on a lined baking sheet (I used wax paper).  In a large skillet heat the olive oil (enough to coat the entire pan) over medium high heat.  Place the medallions in the pan (if they don’t all fit do this in batches – the pork will shrink a bit once they have cooked so you can fit them all once browned to go into the oven).  Cook for 2 minutes per side until nicely browned and then place in the oven to roast for 10 more minutes or until they have reached 145 degrees.  Let rest for a couple of minutes then serve.

Glorious Carnitas

I have said it before and I will say it again – my next door neighbor Ben, is by far and away one of my best customers.  He always likes what I cook, has a huge appetite and likes a wide range of food.  Having him over always gives me an ego boost and usually means I don’t have to find tupperware to hold any leftovers!  However, when I made these carnitas and tested them out on him, I knew they were on a whole other level.  The recipe serves 8 but at the end of the night there was nothing left in the plate…and there were only 3 other people eating besides Ben!  They are indeed the perfect carnitas.  Tender, crispy and juicy, flavorful and not greasy – carnitas nirvana.  I got the methodology from Cook’s Illustrated – braise the meat for a long time, cook down the cooking liquid to a glaze, then toss the meat with the glaze and crisp it up under the broiler.  This method makes these carnitas perfect for making ahead.  Yes, pretty time-consuming but not at all labor intensive and absolutely worth it.  The recipe calls for a 4 pound pork butt (often Boston butt – why people why???) roast.  Unfortunately my local super market has only been selling gargantuan 9 to 10 pound roasts so I had the pleasure of hacking one in half early in the AM so I could get it braising.  Just another joy of cooking!

Me and the beast wrangling at 7am

Me and the beast wrangling at 7am

You can serve these delicious carnitas on their own or as part of a taco filling.  I paired them with rice and beans and as many hot sauces that can fit on our table.  Happy fiesta Friday!

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Carnitas (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Cook’s Illustrated
Special Equipment:  none

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless boston pork butt roast, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 orange, halved

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  In a large dutch oven place the pork, water, onion, lime juice, oregano, cumin, bay leaves and salt and pepper.  Using a strainer, juice the orange over the mix in the dutch oven, catching the seeds.  Throw in the juiced orange halves for good measure.

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Over high heat bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and place it in the oven.  Bake it in the oven for 1 hour, carefully stir the pork around and then bake it for another hour.

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Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork and set it aside in a bowl to cool.  Use that same spoon to scoop out the onion, orange halves and bay leaves and trash them.  Place the dutch oven over high heat and cook the liquid over high heat.  Stir it pretty frequently – you want it to reach a glaze like consistency so cook for about 10-12 minutes.  If you over cook it just rehydrate with a little water.

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When it’s done turn off the heat and start shredding the meat.  Use two forks, or just your fingers, and break each piece in two or three large pieces.  You don’t want it super shredded, you want bite size chunks.  Stir in the glaze and season it with salt and pepper.  At this point you can let the mixture cool, cover and put it in the fridge for a couple of days (if you do make it in advance take the meat out of the fridge an hour before you want to serve it so it can come to room temperature).  When you are ready to finish the carnitas, heat your broiler.  Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and then place a baking rack over the foil.  Place the glaze covered carnitas on the baking rack and put it in the broiler.  Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, flip the pieces and then broil for 5 to 7 minutes more.

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Carnitas

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless boston pork butt roast, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 orange, halved

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  In a large dutch oven place the pork, water, onion, lime juice, oregano, cumin, bay leaves and salt and pepper.  Using a strainer juice the orange over the mix in the dutch oven, catching the seeds.  Throw in the juiced orange halves for good measure.  Over high heat bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and place it in the oven.  Bake it in the oven for 1 hour, carefully stir the pork around and then bake it for another hour.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork and set it aside in a bowl to cool.  Use that same spoon to scoop out the onion, orange halves and bay leaves and trash them.  Place the dutch oven over high heat and cook the liquid over high heat.  Stir it pretty frequently – you want it to reach a glaze like consistency so cook for about 10-12 minutes.  If you over cook it just rehydrate with a little water.  When it’s done turn off the heat and start shredding the meat.  Use two forks, or just your fingers, and break each piece in two or three large pieces.  You don’t want it super shredded, you want bite size chunks.  Stir in the glaze and season it with salt and pepper.  At this point you can let the mixture cool, cover and put it in the fridge for a couple of days (if you do make it in advance take the meat out of the fridge an hour before you want to serve it so it can come to room temperature).  When you are ready to finish the carnitas, heat your broiler.  Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and then place a baking rack over the foil.  Place the glaze covered carnitas on the baking rack and put it in the broiler.  Broil for 5 or 6 minutes, flip the pieces and then broil for 5 more minutes.

Crusted Pork Tenderloin

I honestly don’t know what I used to do before I found this recipe.  We must have it at least once every two weeks for dinner because it’s so easy, healthy and versatile.  Pork tenderloin is the king of weeknight meals as its quick cooking, portion controlled and cheap – but don’t sleep on it for a nice dinner party either.  It’s the perfect main protein when you really want to fancy up the sides or apetizers.  It’s also incredibly easy to scale up if you want to make 3 or 4 tenderloins for a crowd.

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Everyone can get their hands on djion mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil – I bet the only thing that would trip
folks up here is having to grind your own coriander seeds.  I realize most people don’t even have ground coriander in their spice drawer let alone the whole seeds but this is definitely worth some real estate in your DSC04479kitchen.  First off ground coriander will not work here – all it will do is burn and leave a bitter taste to the pork.  But secondly the seeds are so much more fragrant and delicate than the ground powder or horrors of all horrors the coriander plant better known to some as cilantro.  Such a controversial herb – my best friend Karin is a cilantro hater so I basically removed it from my repertoire for years – but coriander and coriander seeds have no “soapy” or cilantroy flavor.  If you are really adverse then I would recommend using fennel seeds which I do on occasion just to mix it up.  However that still leaves us with the dilemma of having seeds we need to crush!  How is that making your life easy?  Well if you have a spice grinder it’s incredibly easy.  I have this one and love it.  Cheap and small it does the job.  If you have a mortar and pestle old school style that will work too.  Dont want to buy special equipment?  Just throw the coriander seeds into a plastic baggie and wack away with the bottom of a pot to crush them.  This pork is so delicious and easy you will be glad you made space for these seeds and I will hazard a guess you will find other uses for them like these insanely good looking fries from Bon Appetit.  This time around I served the pork with some roasted asparagus and my favorite whole grain mustard on the side but this pork can go with practically anything.  Roasted veggies just make a good side because you can throw them in the same oven.

Crusted Pork Tenderloin (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspired by:  Coriander Crusted Pork Tenderloin by Fine Cooking Magazine

Special Equipment:  spice grinder, mortar and pestle or just wack away at the seeds and skip both, meat thermometer

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the over to 450 degrees.  Grind the coriander seeds onto a plate (I like to throw the peppercorns into the spice grinder and do them together but by all means just grind pepper directly onto the plate, as much as you want).  Grind pepper as well if you havent already and add salt.  Toss spice mixture around to mix (this can be made in bulk and kept in a baggie so you can use it anytime).  Rub the mustard onto the pork and then roll it on the plate with the spices making sure they stick all over.  You can do this in advance as well and just store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours before but honestly this process is so easy I usually just do it right before cooking.

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Heat the olive oil in a ovenproof skillet large enough to hold the tenderloin over medium-high heat. Cook the pork on one side for 2-3 minutes until brown, turn it over and then put the skillet into the oven.  The original recipe called for browning on all sides but the bottom gets really crusty in the oven so the double browning seemed like overkill.  Cook until the pork registers 155 degrees on a meat thermometer  about 18 to 20 minutes. Cover with tin foil and let rest for  5 minutes before slicing thinly.

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Crusted Pork Tenderloin

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  spice grinder, mortar and pestle or just wack away at the seeds and skip both, meat thermometer

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the over to 450 degrees.  Grind the coriander seeds and pepper on to a plate and add salt.  Toss spice mixture around to mix (this can be made in bulk and kept in a baggie so you can use it anytime).  Rub the mustard onto the pork and then roll it on the plate with the spices making sure they stick all over.  You can do this in advance as well and just store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours before.  Heat the olive oil in a ovenproof skillet large enough to hold the tenderloin over medium-high heat. Cook the pork on one side for 2-3 minutes until brown, turn it over and then put the skillet into the oven.  Cook until the pork registers 155 degrees on a meat thermometer  about 18 to 20 minutes. Cover with tin foil and let rest for  5 minutes before slicing thinly.

Mexican Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is the perfect protein – low in fat, quick cooking, hell they are even portion controlled so you can easily scale up or down.  Grilled, roasted, pan sautéed in medallions, stir fried in strips or cubed in stews there is just nothing this piggie cannot do.  I am not a huge fan of pork chops as I find they dry out and can become tough really easily.  Same can be said for pork tenderloin if you aren’t careful but an easy way to hedge against that is to marinate the pork, which will not only give it flavor but often help tenderize the meat and make it less tough (especially if there is acid involved as there is in this recipe).  Again you should view this as a method not a fixed list of ingredients.  For fiesta friday I made this with lime juice and chili powder but you could easily turn this italian with balsamic vinegar and garlic or greek with lemon juice and oregano.  Basically if you have some acid, ingredients that add a good flavor punch, some oil and a plastic baggie you are good to go.  Also please don’t be a snob about the gallon plastic bag – it’s not Pinterest worthy or stylish but it gets the job done, actually ensures that all of the meat gets marinated and what is better than disposable??

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I served this alongside last week’s quinoa salad which was delicious but it would also be great with an avocado and onion salad, chopped up and thrown into tortillas for tacos or quesadillas or sliced thinly on a taco salad.

Mexican Marinated Pork Tenderloin (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  easy street
Special Equipment:  plastic gallon sized baggie, meat thermometer

  • 1 pork tenderloin (or 8, honestly you can increase this to as many as your baggie can hold)
  • the juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced finely
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (I had guajillo on hand but any kind or generic will do)

Put pork and all the ingredients in a plastic baggie, close the top pressing out as much air as possible and squishing everything together.  Marinate for 45 minutes to up to 2 hours.  You could do it for longer if you needed to but the lime juice can start to break down the proteins in the pork after too long and it will get mushy.  Sweet spot is about an hour – you can leave it at room temp in the baggie to marinate since you don’t want to throw a cold tenderloin on the grill anyway.  When you are ready to cook, heat a grill or grill pan on high and when hot pull the tenderloin out of the baggie, shake off excess marinate and throw on the grill.

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Grill for about 15-20 minutes depending on how big a tenderloin it is, turning every 5 minutes to get char on all sides.  A meat thermometer should read about 140 degrees.  Take off the grill and let rest under tin foil for about 5 minutes then slice and serve.

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Mexican Marinated Pork Tenderloin

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 1 hour to marinate plus 20 minutes cooking
  • Print

Special Equipment:  plastic gallon sized baggie, meat thermometer

  • 1 pork tenderloin (or 8, honestly you can increase this to as many as your baggie can hold)
  • the juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (I had guajillo on hand but any kind or generic will do)

Put pork and all the ingredients in a plastic baggie, close the top pressing out as much air as possible and squishing everything together.  Marinate for 45 minutes to up to 2 hours.  You could do it for longer if you needed to but the lime juice can start to break down the proteins in the pork after a while and it will get mushy.  Sweet spot is about an hour – you can leave it at room temp in the baggie to marinate since you don’t want to throw a cold tenderloin on the grill anyway.  When you are ready to cook heat a grill or grill pan on high and when hot pull the tenderloin out of the baggie, shake off excess marinate and throw on the grill.  Grill for about 15-20 minutes depending on how big a tenderloin it is, turning every 5 minutes to get char on all sides.  A meat thermometer should read about 140 degrees.  Take off the grill and let rest under tin foil for about 5 minutes then slice and serve.

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