A while back, I came home to a TD&H created dish for dinner: pork tenderloin. I’d never really had pork tenderloin before, though my friend had assured me it was quite easy and delicious to make. Still, I am dubious around meat when it involves me cooking it, and was even more suspicious of this dish TD&H had whipped up, sans recipe. Boy, was I in for a surprise. This dish was so succulent, so savory and sweet at the same time, so flavorful and full of personality, I knew I had to witness its cooking again, if only to understand its depths.
Fast-forward a few weeks, TD&H and I were inspired to host a dinner party with some friends we had not seen in some time. What a perfect opportunity! Chef took to the kitchen, and worked his magic, which I outline for you here.
1 whole onion, cut into big pieces
a few cloves of garlic, diced
extra virgin olive oil
about 1 C chicken stock
2 C soy sauce
1/3 C + 2 T maple syrup
1 can tomato paste
2 T rice vinegar
1/2 T each paprika and cayenne
3/4 T chili powder
2 t cinnamon
1 C jumbo raisins
1 apple, diced (we used honey crisp, my favorite!)
1 T sesame seeds
hint: store leftover stock in an ice tray for future use when you only need 1/2 – 1 cups
1. Soften onions in a pot drizzled with olive oil (2-4 minutes) over medium heat, add diced garlic (1 minute)
2. Add liquidey things (i.e. chicken stock, soy sauce, maple syrup, tomato paste, vinegar) and bring to a simmer
3. Add spices: paprika, cayenne, chili powder and mix into the bubbling concoction
4. Add raisins (we prefer the jumbo raisins from Trader Joe’s. I think they add a nice, unique quality and texture to the final dish as they hydrate to become plump and juicy) and apple pieces
5. Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens, so that the bubbles shrink instead of pop, as TD&H puts it
6. Once the sauce begins to thicken, start on the loin. Heat a cast iron (or other oven-safe) skillet in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so. Remove the skillet from the oven and place on stove (be careful! very hot!).
7. Place the loin in the skillet with a little bit (about 1/2 C or so) of the sauce. Sear on all sides for just a few minutes.
8. Reduce oven heat to 350 F and cook for 20 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145 F.
9. When done cooking, remove from heat. Pour rest of sauce over the meat, and let rest 3-5 minutes so all the juices flow back into the meat.
We chatted, caught up, shared stories. We attacked the cheese with vigor, refilled our wine glasses, finished up cooking while the last few guests arrived. And then… it was time.
The unveiling of the loin.
Silence came over the room as the last and final star of the main course, The Loin, made its way to the table. As we took our first bites, I was anxious to see how this second version of what was initially an ad hoc creation would compare, how it would be received. Sometimes, silence is the greatest compliment.
And silent it was.
Well, needless to say, The Loin showcased fabulously. We followed up with a delicious dessert, courtesy of Katherine, who used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen (gotta love smitten kitchen).