Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bacon-wrapped and Herb-smothered Loins

Some weekend mornings, I'd prefer not to think at all.  I awoke yesterday morning thinking "I wonder how kiwi would taste on a spinach salad..." and "the pork tenderloin is still in the freezer...!"  We celebrated my daughter Abby's birthday with a fabulously fun family dinner - complete with lots of giggly play-time with the little guys.  

Side note:  you can make a ramp for little cars from a cookie sheet.  In case you're looking for something to do...

When Jodi and her new husband Evan were visiting at Christmastime, I tried a new recipe that was worth repeating, for two reasons - one, because it was tender and delicious, and two - because I had frozen the second of the two (packaged together) tenderloins, smothered in the glaze.  You seldom see a recipe that says 'marinate for six weeks' but that's essentially what happened.  I'll do it on purpose next time - the results were delicious, and it made dinner prep that much easier!

Here's the recipe:

Bacon-Wrapped Dijon Tenderloin

Heat 1/2 c packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard, 4 Tablespoons of apple juice, 1/4 teaspoon rosemary, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg in a small saucepan until the brown sugar melts and the flavors blend.  Rub the tenderloin with half of the glaze (this is the point after which I tightly wrapped and froze one of the little loins).  Wrap the tenderloin with 6 pieces of thick-sliced bacon.

Jodi tried this recipe recently without the bacon and said it was very good that way, too.  Important fact:  You will be extremely sorry if you don't line the baking pan with foil, bacon or not.  Brush the top of the (now bacon-wrapped) meat again with the glaze, and bake at 400 degrees for an hour.   Then, I turned the oven to 350 and baked it a bit longer - I wanted the bacon to look 'just right' and be nicely crispy.

About pork-roasting temps:  You are looking for an internal temperature of no more than 145 degrees. When you take the roast out of the oven it will continue to cook, so after resting for 15 - 20 minutes it will reach the perfect temperature of 150 - 155 degrees.

Slice and serve! 

My birthday girl requested a spinach salad to go with this yummy tenderloin.  I pulled together a number of ideas and ended up with a recipe that was so good, I'm going to feature it next time, complete with how-to for liqueur-infused cranberries!

We also enjoyed mashed potatoes, incredibly easy and good beer bread (watch for the recipe along with the spinach salad) - and Texas sheet cake (thanks, Pioneer Woman) with ice cream.  Texas sheet cake has been around for generations, and I don't think Ree's taking claim for inventing it.  She does do a great job of showing how to make it!  Nor should Paula what's-her-name.  My mom and all the church ladies were making this a few decades ago.  It's a classic and still chocolatey-wonderful!

I mentioned to my friend Eden that I was going to write a blog about our dinner, and she got as excited as anyone can get when you mention the words "pork tenderloin."  She had much the same experience recently - not that either of us is braggin'(ok, just a bit) but we both got comments of "better than a restaurant."  Who knew people would have so much to say about pork tenderloin!   

Consider this a two-for-one deal! 

Eden's Pork Loin

Combine in a small bowl 1 Tablespoon salt1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 4 cloves garlic, minced), 1 -2 tablespoons crushed red pepper (or cayenne pepper - depending on the spicy-attitude of your guests), 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, and 1 teaspoon dried  cilantro.  Blend with 2 tablespoons olive oil (or maybe a bit more).  It should be a thick pasty/grainy mixture.  With your fingers, massage the mixture onto the pork loin, covering all of the meat and fat.

Eden noted that she substituted the last 5 dried seasonings with 4-5 teaspoons of dried Herb De Provence.  Good choice, Eden!

Place 1 boneless pork loin, with fat left on (she only used half, like I did, saving the rest for another time) uncovered in a roasting pan.  Eden mentions that glass works the best if you have it - she doesn’t use a rack but you can if you have one.

Roast the pork in a preheated 475 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, until it looks a bit golden and you can really smell the seasonings, then reduce the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for an additional hour or so…using an internal thermometer to check for doneness.  Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before carving for maximum juiciness. It will continue to cook while it rests.

NOTE: The juices on the bottom will begin to blacken as it cooks, so Eden adds a bit of white wine and water intermittently to keep the drippings browning but not blackening. After removing the pork loin to rest before slicing, she puts more wine/water (or chicken stock if you have some handy) in the pan and scrapes off the brown crusty stuff with a spoon. Put the pan back in oven to heat and blend. Serve the juice over the sliced loin. YUM YUM YUM (I think this was her favorite part.)

Eden serves this pork dish with oven roasted potatoes, onions and carrots. Cut potatoes and onions into quarters, and use mini baby carrots. Put them all in a roasting pan with some white wine, several chicken bouillon cubes, and cover with foil. After they soften (up to an hour), uncover them for a nice roasted brownness. 

She likes to serve this pasta dish alongside:

Garlic Mushroom Pasta Aioli

Sauté 6-8 crushed cloves garlic, 1 pound of sliced fresh mushrooms (any type), 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper in about 2 Tablespoons olive oil. While this is sautéeing on low, boil the penne to the al dente stage. When the mushrooms begin to get soft (but not mushy), drain the pasta and add all of the oil/mushroom/garlic mixture to the pasta pan and blend. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese just before serving.


Thanks, Eden!  (Watch for Eden's blog with tips for frugal living, coming soon.  I'll let you know.)

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