All You Need to Know About Pork Tenderloin

Currently sitting at my favorite neighborhood patisserie – nibbling on the best chocolate almond croissant in Park Slope (Colson at the corner of 9th and 6th ave) – piecing together the clips of my first totally solo video project. And it’s starting to feel like a mining operation: pealing away the jumbled parts of my 3-hour, single-take, cut-less footage and jerky tripod adjustments – a testament to the importance of asking for an extra set of hands. However, my favorite part of this whole process of making these videos has been the challenge of putting my film schooling to practice in this new food video domain. It’s not perfect and my standards are much too high but it’s really fun. I love the process of demonstrating a process. Food is a process. It’s practice and it’s putting your knowledge of ingredients and tools to the test. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way we envision but when it does the process of getting to that point makes you feel like an expert the next time around. Being confident and accepting the process is the key to success.

This video came about because some folks commented on one of our pork tenderloin Instagram posts, professing their frustration with pan-searing pork and that it never looks like “that”. But, I’ll be honest, neither did mine. It took me a few tries and lots of deep breaths to get it right. Laura and the crew would probably say it was my biggest hurdle. But I’m here to tell you that it is possible! Here are a few tips I picked up in the process 🙂

  • Prepping a pork tenderloin:
    • Pork is best seared, to get that crispy, unctuous crust, then popped in the oven at 425 degrees to finish.
    • First, you must trim off something called the “silverskin”. According to my research, “silverskin is connective tissue that doesn’t dissolve when the tenderloin is cooked, so it needs to be trimmed away” (finecooking.com). Hold it tightly with your fingertips and stick a sharp knife, preferably a boning knife or pairing knife, through to make a thin slit and follow the tissue until it’s removed.

  • The longer you marinate, the better.
    • Next, it’s important to marinate the tenderloin for as long as possible, at least an hour. Although, we all know apple and pork is a winning combo, pork is also great with almost any citrus. Pork absorbs flavors beautifully. You can adjust your seasonings to go along with whatever you’re making.
    • Make sure you strip the pork of excess marinade before you start searing but don’t pour it down the drain just yet! You’ll use it later. You can also add a little something extra to the marinade after you’ve stripped it like honey or agave, sriracha, anything that is likely to burn in the pan while it sears. We added honey to the recipe in this video and created a sweet glaze.
    • (Bonus tip: you can also make extra marinade before you add the pork to use as salad dressing!)

  • How to get the perfect sear every time:
    • When you’re searing pork, or anything for that matter, you want to make sure your pan is really really hot. You can test this with the water splash test, if it sizzles you’re ready to go. Add the oil. This can be anything you have laying around but if you’re getting really technical, you’ll want something with a “high-smoke-point” (things like grapeseed oil, safflower oil or canola oil). Make sure it covers the whole surface of the pan, then carefully layer the meat on top. It will splatter so watch out!
    • You’re going to create an even sear around the whole tenderloin so it’s crispy all the way around. To do this, you’ll roll the pork toward (or away) from you, allowing the pork to get a nice sear on each roll. On the last roll just turn, spread with your excess marinade or glaze and pop it in the oven.

  • Finish it off in the oven.
    • Oven timing is tricky here because oven temps vary, pork girth vary, and different pans transfer heat differently. Before you give up, there’s an easy solution. Welcome meat thermometer! Check the pork after about 6-8 minutes. Stick the thermometer in the thickest park of the meat. You want it to read 135-140. It will finish cooking while it settles.

  • Let it rest!
    • Probably the most important tip we can give you is to let it rest. Make sure the pork rests for at least 10 minutes – just enough time to whip up your salad or strain your rice. This will ensure juicy pork. Even if you think you overcooked it, it will still be delicious and juicy if you allow the meat to rest.
  • Save le jus.
    • The final tip I have is to pour the juices that pool on your cutting board over the meat. It’s a trick I learned long ago and will never serve meat to another living soul without it. Perhaps the simplest way to transform a piece of meat into a savory chef-d’oeuvre.

Our go-to pork marinade ingredients and pairings:

As shown in the video:

  • Roasted pork tenderloin with lots of fresh thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt + pepper and honey to finish.
    • Paired with delicate Boston lettuce, shaved radish, lightly blanched green beans, and brown rice with a lemon-dijon vinaigrette
  • Roasted pork tenderloin with orange zest, garlic, grainy Dijon mustard and honey to finish
    • Paired with roasted sweet potato wedges, quinoa and simple arugula salad with citrus Dijon vinaigrette
  • Laura’s Cooks vs. Cons pork tenderloin: http://whatweeat.nyc/cooks-vs-cons-behind-the-scenes/

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichoke bulbs

A trip to the Union Square farmer’s market with Laura last week made clear that we have a way to go before spring produce makes its grand appearance. Root vegetables galore. Nary a pea, ramp or asparagus stalk in sight. This is the time to experiment with what we’ve had available for a while but have overlooked. Behold the Jerusalem artichoke!

Arial view of plated Roasted potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes

My singular experience with Jerusalem artichokes happened early springtime during college, a day I will never forget. I was taking an urban gardening course and my “classroom” was a private plot on the Lower East Side. It was still freezing. We were sifting through the melting ice with picks to attempt to wake up the unyielding dirt beneath the melting snow. Almost immediately, we began to unearth tons of little bulbous roots. My professor explained that they were called sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes, and that while they were edible and delicious, they were known to dominate gardens and were often seen as a nuisance.

Clean Jerusalem Artichokes

Back to the present. As Laura and I perused the Union Square stalls, we encountered those same irregularly shaped spuds and decided to purchase them in a moment of curiosity. We took them home with us, along with the many other small brown bags filled with root vegetable goodies, and set to searching for ways to best prepare them. In the end, we came to the consensus to simply roast them in a mix of fingerling potatoes along with some EVOO, salt and pepper to best bring out the integrity of the ingredient.

Potatoes and Jerusalem Artichokes to Roast

The result was beyond our expectations. A delicate, earthy, almost sweet flavor coupled with a just-crisp exterior and smooth, creamy interior. We finished the root vegetable mix with some bright lemon juice and zest and a scattering of parsley leaves as we nearly always do. In this moment we were reminded that simplicity almost always equals perfection when you’re working with the best produce.

Plated Roasted potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes by a window

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Note: It’s a good idea to mix sunchokes with another root vegetable because consuming too much can be difficult on some people’s tummies. This has earned them quite a reputation. No one in the WWE crew has ever felt a thing though so don’t be afraid to try them!

Simple Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes and Fingerling Potatoes

Ingredients:

¾ lb Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes, scrubbed clean, then cut into 1 inch wedges

¾ lb fingerling potatoes, scrubbed cleaned, then halved or quartered

A few tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup parsley leaves

1/2 lemon, juice and zest

Method:

Preheat oven to 425. Toss sunchokes and potatoes together with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping once or twice, to ensure even browning. Allow to cool on sheet tray for 5-10 minutes. This allows the vegetables to stay nice and crisp. Finish with the zest and juice of ½ lemon and a scattering of parsley leaves. Enjoy!

Roasted Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes with a healthy char

Winter Wild Rice Salad with Charred Broccoli and Pickled Raisins

Winter Wild Rice and Broccoli salad with pickled raisins and herbs

The holidays are officially over. With the grind of the new year in full swing and the harshness of New York cold weather setting in, everyone is buckling down for the next few months. I’m trying my absolute hardest not to let the winter blues get me down, and I am finding that more often than not, I turn to food to bring me comfort.

While winter conditions definitely make it difficult to find fresh produce, the season still provides for many delicious and hearty meals. In fact, my very favorite vegetable is easily accessible this time of year. That’s right. Give me all the broccoli.

Charred roasted broccoli or broccolini

Broccoli is so versatile and can be addictive prepared in any way! Steamed, stir-fried, roasted, or even eaten raw, the possibilities are endless. One can even thinly shave the stems and use them in a salad or sautéed for a meal, but that is a conversation for another day. Today I want to talk about my favorite preparation for broccoli: roasting. Super simple and with a huge punch of flavor, I like to toss the prepped broccoli with seasonings and oil and then blast it in the oven set to a really high temperature. This ensures that the broccoli gets a healthy char while still retaining some crunch. Nobody wants to eat something that can be described as “limp”. Toss with some lemon zest and voila, you have brought life to something in this artic tundra.

Broccoli on a sheet tray to roast

Over the years I have learned that my own personal preference in flavor combination is to combine sweet with savory. Therefore, I have found great value in the use of fresh or dried fruit in many of my dishes. There’s nothing like the subtle pop of flavor in every few bites when you encounter something sweet. As of late, one of my absolute favorite additions to a salad is the ever persevered, simple and basic (drumroll please….) raisin. This traditional ingredient dates as far back in my memory as “ants on a log” in childhood snacks, but has now been reinvented by the chefs at What We Eat. Though a raisin in itself is a tasty little burst of sweetness, we sometimes opt to re-hydrate the chewy little grape into something else. This can be done using warm water, or if you like, you can opt to add an acid to the mix for a pickling effect.

Pickling spices and apple cider vinegar boiling on the stovetop

Through experimentation, we have perfected a winning combination of spices to create an amazing pickling recipe for grapes and raisins. The result is an unbelievably sweet, tangy and slightly spicy treat. Think warm winter spices with a kick of heat from red chili flakes. Having this recipe in your arsenal is a sure-fire way to add surprise and curiosity to a salad or grain dish.

With love, Kristina

Winter Wild Rice and Broccoli salad with pickled raisins

For the Wild Rice:

1 cup wild rice, rinsed

Cook rice according to package directions.

 

For the Broccoli:

1 head broccoli, cut into large florets

½ tablespoon olive oil

1 pinch red pepper flakes

½ tsp granulated

salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

On the stove top, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Blanch broccoli for 30 seconds and refresh in ice cold water. Dry completely.

On a large sheet tray, toss the broccoli with a good glug of olive oil, granulated garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Roast, undisturbed for 15 minutes. Take broccoli out of oven and flip (it should have a nice char on one side). Return to oven for another 15 minutes until crisp and caramelized. Remove and allow to come to room temperature.
Pickled raisins mise en place

For the Pickled Raisins:

2 cups golden raisins

½ cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1 cinnamon stick

3 cloves

1 star anise

1 tablespoon fennel seed

½ tablespoon sugar

1 tsp salt

 

Method:

In a saucepot, bring the water, vinegar, spices, sugar and salt to a slow simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Once the sugar has dissolved, strain the hot liquid over the raisins and allow to sit until cool.

When you are ready to build the salad, drain raisins and mix with the charred broccoli and wild rice. Add in a large handful of mint/cilantro/scallions and dress with a few tablespoons of the pickling liquid and some olive oil. Enjoy!

Other Uses for Pickled Raisins:

Chicken salad

Grain bowls

Breakfast parfaits with granola and greek yogurt