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Week of Pork, Part One

December 5, 2006

I am not a big pork eater. In fact, for many years I have stayed away from chops because I think they taste like farts. Maybe it was bad preparation in my past, which is what Miss Crystal insists must be case. Maybe it’s some kind of vicarious Jewishness (although a pretty shabby one, if that, because I luuurve bacon). For whatever reason, the pork cookin’ was something I have stayed away from. Until now. Now there is pork cookin’ with a vengeance.

 I have no idea what compelled me to buy a 2 1/2 pound pork tenderloin at the Roche the other day, but I saw it, and I wanted it, and I bought it. Then I came home and tried to figure out how I was going to cook it for our Christmas Tree Decorating dinner that night. I wanted something simple, so I couldn’t eff it up too much, and I found this. Perfect.

I barely changed the recipe at all, it was so simple and right on. So here it is, repeated for posterity:

Mustard and Maple Pork Tenderloin

  • 2 T. Mustard (we were out of Dijon, so I used Spicy Brown mustard)
  • 16 oz. trimmed pork tenderloin
  • 1 t. oil (I used olive oil, even though you’re not techically really supposed to sear stuff with it–whatever, it’s all I have)
  • 2 T. cider vinegar
  • 2 T. maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 425.

Spread 1 T (or more–go crazy if you want to) of mustard all over the pork tenderloin. Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof skillet and brown the tenderloin on all sides. This should only take a few minutes. Then move the skillet into the oven, and roast it for about 20-25 minutes. I needed to cook it a little longer because of aforementioned oven retardation. AND I used a meat thermometer for the first time ever! I took it out when it was around 145 degrees.

Let the tenderloin rest on a cutting board or something, and make the sauce in the same skillet. Just add the maple syrup and about a tablespoon of mustard, and then deglaze with the cider vinegar. Let it boil up and reduce for about 5-10 minutes, or however long it takes for it to get thick and saucy.

Then just cut up your tenderloin and pour sauce on it and make people eat it. Yum.

Along with my spicy mustardy maplely tenderloin, I cooked up some goat cheese mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. It was such a hearty New England meal! Grandma would be so proud.

I read Bon Appetit’s piece on mashed potatoes (Nov 2006 issue) and feel that I am quickly reaching mashed potato perfection. I am a mashed potato addict. I am usually the person who assures that you don’t have any mashed potato leftovers after Thanksgiving. I am almost psycho crazy about them. Here are a few hints that I learned from the Bon Appetit people to achieve perfect mashed potato goodness:

  • Don’t peel or cut your potatoes before you boil them. Boil ’em up whole. This prevents them from getting waterlogged or something, and it honestly doesn’t take much longer than otherwise. I used ginormous Idaho potatoes, and it took a little over 30 minutes for them to be mashable.
  • Let them dry out in the pan for a minute or two before you add the yummy stuff.
  • Add the butter first–the fats coat the potatoes so the cream/milk/whatever you add doesn’t make them soggy.
  • Heat your cream/milk FIRST–that stops the potatoes from getting gummy. You can add any other good stuffs you want at this stage–cheese, peppers, chives, pretty much anything you want. Be careful if you add mint, though. When I worked at the Bella Luna, the chef told me mint was the secret ingredient in the mashed potatoes. My attempt to recreate them, however, resulted in toothpaste flavored mashed potatoes, and that is really no good for anyone involved.

As an extra special bonus to the mashed potato secrets I’ve just imparted, here’s a Brussel Sprout secret–it’s ok if they burn! I followed Grocery Guy‘s brussel advice, and just let them sit in the pan, untouched, for almost ten minutes. To my chagrin, I burned the shit out of those things, but instead of tossing them, I figured I’d force my guests to try them anyway (I’m a tyrant in the kitchen!!). And they were super good! Rave reviews! Everyone loved them! Yay!

Coming soon…MORE PORK! I know you can’t wait.

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