The best thing I ever ate (and other fantasies)

This is an old blog post that I thought would go nicely with the upcoming cooler weather (such is Western Pennsylvania, you know, the four seasons? Waiting for winter; winter;  more winter and road construction)  I cannot lay claim to creating the four season’s description because I heard them somewhere in Maine actually. This recipe turned out very well and is replay worthy.  It was done at a time when I was unemployed and still in North Carolina. So, on with the show!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I know, I know, I am unemployed and am supposed to have all this time on my hands and I should be cranking out the recipes at a breakneck pace, writing the cookbook, discussing my next Food Network gig and becoming a “Food Star” extraordinaire but…that just ain’t happenin’. However, I will be more conscientious in making more posts because I have the job hunting machine up and running and it will need less of my time and I can devote more time to writing and creating.

Ah the human condition, it is such that since time immemorial we have sought out those things that bring us gastronomic pleasure. Whether it was the mastodon steak so prized by our Neanderthal ancestors (or other related hominid) or the chicken and dumplings that my Mere Mere did when I was a young lad, we all, or at least most of us, try to find those things that delight our palates and soothe our inner food souls.  We all remember a couple of types of dishes, the ones that are so over the top with flavour and stick out in our minds as exceptional and those, kind of like C-rations in the Army, that, well…kind of suck. As any followers of this blog know, I try to post things that are relatively easy to make with complimentary flavours to hopefully bring joy to the palate. In this vein, my son’s girlfriend, the lovely and talented Jess, honored me by paying me the compliment, “it was possibly the best thing I ever ate” and, “the fresh pineapple takes the flavours to the next level,”on the following recipe.  I wanted to share this recipe here today, late (as always), but here. I will be posting some other recipes this week, but this one is a jewel.

So there I was staring at the produce in the grocery store when the leeks started to speak to me.  It is not that I normally listen to vegetables but the leeks were very insistent that I use them in a recipe. (I really am not crazy or at least in my mind anyway) but after a relentless whispered discussion, I was seduced by my slender, green, onionesque, beauties. Having only used them for a soup stock and my Vietjapthainese Pho recipe, I was wondering how I was going to use them. I mean, I had not even picked out the protein for the dinner yet. How could I have been so impulsive to pick up a vegetable that I had yet to figure out with what I was going to use it?  Suddenly, I spied a sign, not that kind of sign silly, as no deity was involved in pointing out what I was to use for this meal…there was only talking vegetables, it was the “pineapples are on sale” sign. Into the basket the fresh pineapple went, then the mushrooms and some celery and finally, I chose a pork tenderloin as the protein for this meal. I named this recipe “The Happy Hurdler” and Jess you did a fine job getting over those hurdles. Without further adieu, here is the recipe.

The Happy Hurdler

Pork Tenderloin

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

2.6 to 3.0 lbs – Pork tenderloin (should come in two pieces)

2 – Leeks thoroughly washed and dried (they tend to be a bit dirty)

1 pint – mushrooms (I used mixed mushrooms with shitake, creminis, portabello and others)

2 to 3 cups – Mushroom broth

½ tbsp – Ground ginger

½ tbsp – Ground nutmeg

½ tbsp – Coarse ground black pepper

1 – Pineapple, fresh, cored, quartered, and sliced thin

3 tbsp – Soy sauce (I use the light sodium version) Note: this amount is approximate as I just make a drizzle of soy sauce down the center of each tenderloin piece while in the baking dish.

Preparation – Take the leeks and cut the leaves right at where the green turns to white. Wash the leaves thoroughly as there will be quite a bit of dirt in there. On the end of the white part there will be root looking things and you need to cut those off and slice the white part very thin.  You should end up with what look like tiny onion slices. Put these in a bowl and set aside. Next make sure the mushrooms are all good and that most of the dirt has been brushed off.  Now for the pineapple, core and quarter and cut into ¼ inch slices. What you should end up with is a bunch of pineapple triangles.

Construction Instruction – In a deep 9” X 13” baking dish or similar dish (the one that I use is about 2 ½ “ to 3” deep) layer the leek leaves in the bottom creating a bed for the pork tenderloin. (the fluffier the better by the way) next lay the tenderloin halves on top of the bed side by side (kind of a Lucy and Ricky Ricardo thing). Next, take the mushroom broth and pour it over the pork. Then take and drizzle the soy sauce over each tenderloin followed by dusting each with the ginger, nutmeg, and black pepper. Using your “little onion rings), position them so that they are on each of the pork pieces with any leftovers put on to the leek bed. Next, take the mushrooms and also put them on the bed of leeks in and around the pork tenderloins. Now for the fun part, taking the pineapple slice triangles you have made layer them on top of the tenderloins using a slight overlap, making what looks like pineapple armor. All that is left is to put this in the oven at 325 degrees and bake, low and slow, until the internal temperature is at least 150 degrees.

I served this with steamed fresh broccoli with a bit of lemon pepper and baked rosemary and thyme baby red potatoes (limit the serving size of this to make sure carbs are in line).

Enjoy!

The Well Fed Cyclist

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