Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Oaxaca Mole Verde, Measurements are Dumb, and Please Come Back

I, semi-last-minute, decided to make dinner for my mother and her friend, Kathy, last evening.  I had been given this totally gorgeous cookbook by Kathy's daughter ((one of my favoritest people)) and was itching to try something from it.  I decided on a pork tenderloin with a mole verde sauce.  ((Little did I know, pork tenderloin is one of Kathy's very favorite things, so look at me, I'm a winner.))

I'm going to warn you, the ingredient list and the instructions look long, but it comes together relatively quickly and is completely worth it.  As you are reading this, you will probably say, "Oh screw her.  This is ridiculous."  I swear to you, I left for the store at 3 pm to get the missing ingredients in within one hour I had made the rub, the sauce to completion, and 2 dozen green chile muffins, Mexican rice, and loaded up everything I needed to take this show on the road.

Original recipe from "Sharing the Table at Garland's Lodge"

What you need generally:

4 pork tenderloins

For the rub:

2 tablespoons each oregano, sage, thyme, cumin seed, and ground red chile
1 tablespoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 cup of salt ((I used a lot less))
2 tablespoons coarse black pepper

For the mole verde:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and sliced
1/4 cup chopped hot green chiles ((not the canned crap-- I used less and deseeded them for wimpier palates))
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons each oregano and cumin seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro ((so like half a bunch with some of the stems left on))
2 - 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons of lime juice

Are you still with me?  I know.  It seems like a lot, but the vast majority of this stuff is in your spice rack or pantry.  If you don't have something and aren't going to the market, leave it out.  It's fine.

Start by making the rub.  Combine everything BUT the salt and pepper in a small skillet and heat until it smells like heaven.  ((This won't take long, just a couple of minutes on a medium heat.))  Remove from the heat and let it cool a little.  Put into a small baggie and add the salt and pepper and shake it around.  ((I confess, I didn't measure anything, I totally eye-balled it.  Feel free to do the same.))

Preheat the oven to 350, after putting the rack on the highest shelf you can, but still being able to get the pan in.  Drizzle the pork with a little olive oil and then spread the rub over it.  Give it a good pat to make it stick and get all the sides.  Set aside for 30 minutes.  ((I know.  I was a little concerned about leaving pork to sit out.  It's fine.  You won't die.))

Next, we will make the mole.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan over medium high.  Add in the onions, garlic ((I didn't chop the garlic cloves, I put them in whole)), tomatillos, and salt.  Give them a stir and then reduce the heat to medium.  Add in the chiles.  Loosely cover the pan ((like make it so that it is half off)) and cook for 10 minutes or until everything is soft.  Stir it every so often to make sure nothing is sticking.

Combine the pumpkin seeds and the oregano and toast in a small skillet until they begin to smoke.  ((Technically, you should grind them with either a grinder or a food processor after this, but I didn't, so don't worry about it.))

Add the pumpkin seed mix, the cilantro, and 2 cups of chicken broth to the pan with the onions/tomatillos.  Stir it well and let cook for just a couple of minutes.

Transfer the sauce ((it's hot in case this isn't obvious!)) to a blender and process until it is very smooth.  You may need to do this in more than one batch depending on the size of your blender.

Return the mixture to the sauce pan.  If it is really thick, add a little more broth.  Add two tablespoons of lime juice and some more salt.  Keep warm while the pork cooks.

**These are their instructions... This did not work for me.... Roast the meat for 8 minutes, reduce the oven temp to 300 and continue another 8-10 minutes.  A meat thermometer should read 140 at the center.  ((I followed these instructions and knew there was no way in hell they were done.  I turned the heat back up to 350 and let them cook for an additional 20 minutes.  I thought maybe I had somehow missed the part where you slice them first, but no.  No idea.))

When cooked through to 140 degrees or just barely pink, remove from the oven and cover with a clean dish towel for ten minutes to rest.

Slice them diagonally at about 1/3 of an inch thick.  Serve with 1/3 cup of the sauce ((which you have kept warm)) over the top.  ((I put it on the side because I was concerned it would still be too spicy for them even though I had mellowed it out some.))

Not the greatest picture because of the lighting, but I was trying not to be "that person" who keeps everyone waiting while they take pictures of food.  
I repeat, this sounds way harder than it is, but whoever you are making it for will think you are a superhero.  I served it along side ((as alluded to)) Mexican rice, black beans with cojita cheese, green chile corn muffins with honey butter, and the now famous, sopapilla cheesecake.

The verde sauce will keep if kept tightly covered in the refrigerator and would be good on basically everything.


All right, this might win the award for the longest post ever.  I'll be back with something a little less daunting ((or at least wordy)) tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Baked Mac and Cheese, Recklessness, and the 100th Post

Confession time:  I had never had mac n cheese ((from a box or otherwise-- more than a bite anyway)) until 2005.  I'm sure that sounds like blasphemy and like I must have had a terrible childhood.  There was something about the consistency that freaked me out.  I just couldn't tolerate it.  Then in 2005 ((yes, I remember the actual day specifically too)), a box, or actually several boxes, were brought into my house.  The first time I tried to make it ((and I'm talking the add water to the pre-filled carton variety)), I thoroughly screwed it up.  This is why I say that I could not cook at ALL until really quite recently.  If you screw up macaroni and cheese in a microwavable package, there is still hope for you.  #Endtrueconfessions.

What was my point?  Oh yes.  Macaroni and cheese is many people's ultimate comfort food.  I had the honor of making dinner for a girlfriend ((and 8 others)) who has been through quite the ordeal lately.  This occasion required macaroni and cheese.  Specifically, baked mac and cheese with buttered breadcrumbs.  

*Recipe adapted slightly from Alton Brown.

<<Imagine a picture right here of ooey, gooey cheesy pasta with breadcrumbs on top.  Blogger is NOT cooperating with me to load photos.  If I get it to work later, I will add the picture.  GAH.>>

What you need:
1/2 pound elbow macaroni ((or something similar))
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
16 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

The Destructions--oops Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the pasta to the package directions ((like, boil the crap for 10-12 minutes)) and drain.

Chop the onion and set aside.

In a good-sized sauce pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add in the flour and the powdered mustard and KEEP IT MOVING for 5 minutes.  This is going to seems really ridiculous.  It is kind of a clump of yellow-y stuff and you will think this is the second dumbest thing you've ever done.  ((Feel free to leave the dumbest thing you'e ever done in the comments.))  However, if Alton Brown says to do it that way, we do it that way.  Respect, people.

Add the milk, the onion, and the paprika and allow to simmer for ten minutes.

((We are about to get fancy, don't be scared.))  Temper in the egg.  ((WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL DOES TEMPER AN EGG MEAN?  Yell at it?  Try to piss it off?))  Tempering means that you make it so that the egg doesn't just "scramble" in the pan.  Start by whisking it in a bowl so that the yolk and white are combined.  Then add some of the hot stuff to that bowl slowly, whisking it at the same time.  Try not to make a mess.  Just add a little at a time so it doesn't cook the egg.  Keep doing this until the egg has reached the heat of the original mixture and it is mixed in.  Bad news, if it clumps up, you should really start over, but I won't judge you if you say eff it, good enough.  

Return the mixture to the pan and add the cheese.  The original recipe called for 12 ounces.  I eyeballed that and decided that wasn't enough so I basically went hog-wild at that point.  I'm guessing I added more than a pound of shredded cheddar.  ((That's fun to say: shredded cheddar.  Shredded cheddar shredded cheddar shredded cheddar.))  Mix it together until the cheese in melted and pull off the heat.

Place the pasta into a sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish.  Pour the cheesy-goodness over it and stir.  

In a small bowl, melt an additional 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add in a cup of panko breadcrumbs ((or regular if that is what you have)) and mix them around with a fork.  Sprinkle on top.  

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.


This is the 100th post!  It is completely astounding to me that since February, as of today, 7,500 different people have viewed some of my nonsense.  Not too shabby.