Anything But Ordinary by Avril Lavigne
Pork tenderloin, like chicken breasts, gets a bad rap sometimes. I have heard them called 'boring' and 'plain.' I prefer to look at them as a blank canvas - the best of blank canvases, that is. They let the creativity rest within my own imagination to bring out all their hidden secrets - and, as a chef, I like that!
On the surface, I think I would be called "ordinary." I've been a stay-at-home mom for most of my adult life - and gladly so! I sew, I quilt, I knit, I read. Boring? Maybe, to some. But my two youngest daughters chose this particular song as my "theme"song a few years back. They know firsthand how "outside-the-box" I can be! I'm sure they'd say "out of my mind" but, hey, I'm telling this story! I love the song and it's part of the cool down on one of my workout playlists. I'm usually pretty stoked on adrenaline by then so I like to belt it out along with Avril - which is cool because I'm alone - at home. It's not so cool, however, when I'm traveling and working out in the hotel fitness center and, for a brief moment, forget I'm not alone with my iPod. I can just hear those people saying, "You should have heard this lady suddenly sing out 'is it enoooouuuugh!' today in the hotel gym!" BTW - those gym towels are not just for wiping away the sweat. They also do a great job of hiding your face! Ahem - let's talk pork tenderloin . . .
Ok - movie fans! Who can name the movie from which I plucked the quote for the title of my post today? Leave your guess in the comment section and you will win --- the heartfelt feeling of knowing that you love the same movies I do! Just kidding! Actually, I wish I could send you a pork tenderloin as a prize, but how about a CD of the soundtrack of the movie? Start guessing! The soundtrack goes out to the first one to guess it right!
Autumn is here. It started sneaking around in the shadows about a month ago. I happened to look out my kitchen window and, way in the backyard by my garden, I could see a single branch where the leaves had yellowed. Sigh. Summer was going to be over soon and I was not happy about it. Truth be known, I was downright ornery about it. I love heat and sunshine - therefore, I love summer.
And then I made stuffed pork tenderloin. And I got to thinking about all the fabulous foods that come with the cooler temperatures. And, gradually, I began to embrace the new season to come. I wore long pants one day, but kept the sandals. The next week, it was raining so I added closed-toe shoes - my favorite pair of clogs which I found in the Netherlands about nine years ago. I attended a local high school football game one evening which required me to break out a light jacket. None of these items has made their way back to the back of the closet yet. But, that's ok. I'm having fantasies of bottling applesauce and grape juice and braising pork shoulder. What I probably need to do to completely "fall" into fall is have a good run through a pile of leaves. I'm calculating that to still be about three weeks away. In the meantime, I'm going to be roasting things - like pork tenderloin - and turning them into extra-ordinary meals. "I wanna taste it! Don't wanna waste it awaaaay!"
Prosciutto-Wrapped Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
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1 pork tenderloin - I mostly use the ones in the vacuum-packed packages in the meat case - there are often 2 loins in the package. They are small so use both!
1/2 loaf of bread, cubed
1/2 onion, diced
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1 apple, diced
1/2 - 1 c. chicken stock
1 t. poultry seasoning
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 packages of prosciutto
Preheat oven to 350.
Trim any silver skin and visible fat on the tenderloin. Cut your tenderloin to lay flat so you can roll it up after the stuffing has been spread over it. I like to use my boning knife, which is very sharp, and work slowly so I make it as even as possible. To direct my knife cuts I like to envision the tenderloin as if it were a jelly roll and I have to uncoil it. I find a starting point and, using the tip of my knife, make long but shallow cuts along the length, freeing about a 1/4 inch edge. Then, as I turn the tenderloin I continually follow this around the perimeter of the tenderloin until I have "uncoiled" the roll. If you're having a hard time visualizing this, I found this demo you could watch. Sorry about the commercials! Once I have my tenderloin laid out, I like to cover it with plastic wrap and use my meat mallet to gently pound it out to make sure it's even. Go easy! Then I season it with salt and pepper.
Cube the bread. You can toast it in the oven it you'd like. I didn't and it worked just fine. Using different kinds of breads can add some wonderful variety. Place the cubes in a mixing bowl and season with the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and cumin.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the onions and celery and cook until softened - about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and add to the bowl with the bread. Add the apples and toss well. Add the stock, starting with the half cup and add more if you need to coat the bread more.
Separate the prosciutto slices and lay out on a cutting board. Lay the "unrolled" pork tenderloin out and spread the filling evenly out over the open surface. Take one long edge and begin to roll up, tucking in stuffing if it falls out the side. Secure with toothpicks once it's rolled up if it makes it easier to handle while you put on the prosciutto. Wrap prosciutto slices around the outside of the rolled tenderloin, smoothing ends down. Place in a baking dish.
Place in oven and roast, uncovered, for an hour. Brush top with juices in the pan and roast for another 10 minutes.
Remove from pan and let rest for about 10 minutes. Slice into 1/2 inch slices, on the diagonal.
Each loin serves 3 - 4 people. If you use a larger loin, double the stuffing ingredients.
Note - the stuffing recipe is a basic and pared down version. You could do all sorts of variations with this. Use your favorite or take mine and jazz it up with all sorts of things - citrus zest, raisins, dried cranberries or fruits of any kind, nuts, cheeses, vegetables. Use other starches beside bread - cook rice, potatoes, etc. It's your canvas - let your mind be an artist!
If you're interested in the sauce I used - stick around! If not - see you next time!
Apple Cider Beurre Manie
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The title makes it sound difficult and fancy - but only because there's french words in it. Simply put, it's an apple cider reduction which was thickened with a little butter and flour.
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup of white wine
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
Place in saute pan and cook over medium high heat until it is thicker and reduced to half. On a small plate, place 2 T. cold butter and 2 T. flour. Use a fork and mash the two together until combined. When the liquid is reduced, use the fork and add the "beurre manie" to the reduction and stir. Sauce will become thick and glossy. Remove from heat, season with salt, and drizzle over roast.