Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pork Tenderloin.... High Protein, Low Fat & Carb, Easy to Prepare and Delicious!!!

What can I tell you about "Pork Tenderloin"?..... Let's see..... Pork tenderloin is called "Lomo de Cerdo" or "Lomitos" especially, in Spain it's called "Solomillo". There is the loin in itself which is the larger piece of meat and then there's the " Tenderloin " which is a smaller long tube-shaped cut of meat that runs along the spinal section. This muscle section of the animal does not get much of a workout , therefore the meat is extremely tender. Cook it right and you will be rewarded with a meat so succulent and tender you will feel like it is melting in your mouth.

Around the world, well where beef is popular, you often see tenderloin treated with luxury. Sliced medallions, also known as filet mignon, topped with creamy rich sauces. But today we will deal with the Pork version of this cut (but you could also apply it to the Beef one..) For true meat lovers, perhaps they are just wrapped in bacon on laid on a hot grill. In Argentina, it is not uncommon to see lomo treated in the same manor except at some asados you may see a whole slab of lomo cooked on a grill.

For a while, pork got bad press as being "fatty", "bad for you", "not healthy", etc. which caused sales for this item to plunge. It was soon discovered that the bad press had been promoted by the Beef Industry due to it's gaining popularity and so cutting into their profits; yet, a lot of people still consider pork to be not "the other white meat" but an unhealthy addition to their diet, yet nothing could be further from the truth since most of the cuts of meat are lean and flavorful and deliver high quality protein for your food buck with little waste (and in these times where budgeting must be done, a great food option for anyone).

In Mexico where pork is revered (and quite inexpensive), there are hundreds of recipes for this most favorite of meat dishes: whole loins cooked in Coca-Cola, Mustard, Apricot, Brandy, Port, Sherry, Dried Fruit, etc. Usually cooked or roasted in the oven, sometimes "mechado" (a technique I particularly love which involves taking a whole or half pork loin and making deep cuts with a thin kife (small holes yet deep) and filling these "holes" which are made all over the exterior of the meat with raisins, jalapenos, almonds, red bell pepper and then searing the meat before putting it in the oven with the chosen sauce- when you cut slices, it's looks fabulous! makes great cold sandwiches too...) that can be a sumptuous yet easy meal, perfect for holidays and guests, or a great way for leftovers and sandwiches too.

Here are some great ways to have "Lomitos" or Pork Loin that I'm sure you will enjoy:

A great appetizer you can serve anytime but especially suited for "Happy Hour" over cocktails during the summer months, from Spain: "Tenderloin Pinchos with Potato Confit".....

1 Pork Tenderloin (cooked, baked or leftover)
Small Potatoes Confit
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic or Sherry Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

To confit the potatoes:
In a deep pan with about 2-3 inches of olive oil, heat the oil to 50 C - 120 F (low heat) and put the potatoes in the oil for at least 1 hour until you can prick them with a toothpick. You can add garlic cloves or other vegetables here as well.

Potatoes can be fried, baked, peeled or any way you prefer as well. Chop the watercress, reserving some. Make a vinaigrette with the oil and vinegar, salt & pepper and mix with the watercress that was not reserved. Cut the tenderloin into slices and put some of the plain watercress over top, on top of this lay half a potato and finish with the watercress with dressing. Insert a toothpick through the whole thing vertically to make it easier to eat and present.

Tenderloin with Herbs: A lovely dish you will surely love!

2 tbl olive oil
3 shallots, cut in slices
1 heaping tsp corn starch
2 Bay leaves
1 tbl mustard
salt & pepper to taste
2 pork tenderloins
1 Thyme sprigs, cut in small pieces, leaves only
2 tbl Port or Sherry Wine

Clean and dry the tenderloins well and cut in thick slices. Salt and pepper well. Heat the oil in the pan and cook the meat on both sides. Add the shallots and cook for 1 min. then the wine. Add the mustard, corn starch, Bay leaf and Thyme. Mix well.

Cover the pan and cook with low heat for 2-3 min. Remove the meat from the pan and reserve, cover and let rest. Pass the sauce through a sieve and serve the meat with it's sauce and with vegetables or rice on the side.

Tenderloin in a Parmesan Crust with Mushroom Gravy: You'll really like this presentation!

8 tbl of olive oil
1/2 an onion, in large slices
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 Tenderloins

For the Parmesan Crust:
1 egg, beaten
2 tbl coarse mustard
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

For Mushroom Gravy:
4 tbl olive oil
1/2 onion
1 tbl flour
2 cups milk
1-2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Mushrooms (your choice)

Tie the tenderloin so it keeps a solid form, season with salt and pepper and sear over high heat and oil until golden brown. Once done, add the onion, stir fry 1-2 min. and place in a 350 F oven for about 5-10 min.

For the Parmesan Crust:
Rub the meat with the mustard and cover with the bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan, then in beaten egg and again in the cheese and bread mix then return to the oven for 8 additional minutes so it's golden.

Mushroom Gravy:
Brush mushrooms so they're clean and cut in large pieces. Fry the onion, also in large pieces, in the hot oil, add the mushrooms and once the water evaporates, add the flour and milk, mixing well to prevent lumps and allow to come to a boil. Season with salt, pepper and Worcestershire, cook for 5 min. to thicken. Serve the meat cut in thick slices, you can pass the juice through a sieve and serve along with the mushroom sauce.

Tenderloin with Dark Rum and Chestnut Mojo: A real treat!

1 cup cane sugar
4 cups meat consome
2 shallots
1/2 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups Dark Rum
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tenderloins (about 3 K)
Baby vegetables, assorted

For the Chestnut Mojo:
1 cup olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves
1 cup toasted chestnuts
pinch of cumin

Clean the tenderloin and cut in individual portions.

For the sauce:
Cook the shallots in a bit of butter and add the sugar allowing it to color and caramelize. Add the rum and flame so the alcohol evaporates. Add the meat stock and allow to cook, taste and insure salt and pepper are right. Pass through a sieve and return to the pan and allow to come to a boil. Add the butter in pieces, moving all the while with a whisk so the butter melts and gives a sheen to the sauce.

Chestnut Mojo:
Grind or crush the ingredients, except for the oil, which we will mix together at the end, little by little, until it looks like a mayonnaise. Preferably in a food processor.

Cook the tenderloin on a grill (or pan if you choose), along with the vegetables, once on a plate, add the sauce and some of the chestnut mojo. Serve.

I hope you will give these recipes a try soon.... you'll find out how versatile and tasty pork tenderloin can be and it is sure to become a favorite around your house. Remember, whether served cold, from the grill or with a delicate sauce, this tender cut of meat lends itself well to all sorts of presentations.... Get creative and you'll see!..........

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