Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just another Sunday Dinner With the Fam

Not really…these BBQ’d pork tenderloins were SMOKIN’!!!!!!
I don’t review cookbooks, so much as act them out—so when I fell in love with Adam Perry Lang’s best seller Charred & Scruffed, I asked my cousins, who were visiting me for one last vacation this summer, to come on out to the Blue Ridge Mountains to taste some truly inspired PREMIUM barbecue. You could say we were the GRILLS next door; these ladies and cherished friends traveled far to be with me, so of course we had to make the most of it. When we get together it’s not about site seeing or shopping, it's about gabbing, gossiping and goofing around. What made our conversation flow better than anything? I’d say a few good sips of wine and a couple of over-the top meals helped.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and I needed—as a meat lover—to read something by a fellow carnivorous foodie.  While I used many of Adam Perry Lang’s techniques to create this most memorable dish, it did of course feature my own twists and tweaks. Sunday Best Grilled Tenderloins were born. It’s an entrée that’s going to star in an upcoming cookbook I’m writing about meals that are best reserved for those lazy Sundays after church. You know…those uber-laid back weekends where friends who identify with your love of fire, salt and meat gather round the grill. I love those Sundays. Before long you’ve got the whole neighborhood jealous of those heavenly wood smoke smells coming from your backyard.

My grilled tenderloins, pictured above, are EXTREME in flavor, tenderly brined and skillfully basted; these are simply the best pork tenderloins you will ever slice; served with creamed spinach and au gratin potatoes; in these you have a pig that tastes like a Kobe steer!

For side-dishes (what my muse Adam Perry Lang calles “co-stars”), I served creamy cheesy au gratin potatoes and velvety creamed spinach. My niece, present for this Extreme BBQ gave me this compliment: “No one does au gratin like J-Mo.” Aw, thanks Megan. Of the pork tenderloin, my sweet girl also enthused:

“It was juicy and tender with loads of flavor. She tried this new brine and board-dressing technique where you baste the brined meat on the grill with butter and garlic using a brush made of tied together sage, rosemary, thyme (and other herbs) then finely chop herb, garlic and the juice of a lemon on the board you leave the meat to rest on. Once you take the meat off the grill you roll the tenderloin(s) in the herbs and then let it rest and soak up the flavoring.”

Megan isn’t the only one I wanna thank. The whole crew deserves a round of applause for their tirelessness at clean-up. The dishes were sky-high after our over-the-top feast, but all of us cousins rose to the occasion like an enactment from The Big Chill, blasting “I’ve Had the Time of my Life” from my husband’s iPod . I didn’t know it was possible to dance and dry dishes at the same time—at least without breaking any. Thanks again for making everything sparkle after such a stupendously messy and delicious meal; it certainly wasn’t the only chargrilled indulgence that weekend: we also had (pictured above left) Grilled Rib Eye & asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, and spicy onion rings. For dessert there was ice box cake, and you’ll have to private message me to get my sister’s family recipe.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the food porn, and have a great rest of the week!


Sunday Best Grilled Pork Tenderloins


¼ cup coarse salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
8 cups water
1 large lemon, sliced
4 fresh bay leaves
1 large head of garlic, cloves peeled
4 (8 to 10-ounce) pork tenderloins

Place the salt, sugar and peppercorns into a large pot. Pour in the water. Add the lemon, bay leaves and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cool to room temperature. Place the tenderloins into the brine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. (You can alternatively place the tenderloins into a large plastic bag and pour the brine over top.)
½ cup butter, 1 stick
8 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 3 tablespoons
1 bunch of mixed herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage leaves, oregano, parsley, mint)
2 tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 teaspoons coarse salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the garlic. Remove from the heat.
Tie the herbs together at one end to make an herb brush. You will be dipping this herb brush into the butter.

Remove the tenderloins from the brine and pat dry. Rub the seasonings into the meat, using the herb brush.

Heat an outdoor grill. Place the tenderloins onto the grill. Carefully brush the tops with the herb brush, dipped in butter. The fire will flare, so be careful. Turn the tenderloins every 3 to 5 minutes, a quarter of a turn, and baste with butter. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 135°.

Pour the remaining butter baste onto a wood cutting board. Chop the (now cooked) herbs on the board. Remove stems. Transfer the tenderloins to the board. Turn to coat with herbs and butter baste. Cover with foil and rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the tenderloins into thin, diagonal slices.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Best Side Dish for Alfresco Dining: It’s Gotta Be Potato Salad

If my cooking and catering background has taught me anything, it’s that summer represents two golden opportunities: (1) to do a lot of alfresco dining and (2) trade plenty of recipes, which summertime makes easy because it brings so many interesting people to the table. You may entertain an exchange student, somebody’s sweetheart or a visiting relative; these friends have different ways of preparing recipes you grew up with.  It’s always such a pleasant surprise to see colorful new versions of one of your family favorites at a pot luck or BBQ—“oh, you make it THAT way? Hmmm. I never thought of substituting that particular ingredient. Does going the extra mile make that much of a difference?”  Questions like these are really fun to pose between forkfuls, because the taste almost always gives you your answer.

When I began contemplating the best recipes for alfresco dining, I have to say that the first thing that came to mind was Greek Salad; simple, light and refreshing—yet somehow fulfilling enough to serve as a whole entrée, it’s a no brainer—but it’s just not universally loved enough. However, the bed of potato salad that is so often found at the bottom of a Greek Salad is, so I asked around for different takes on good old potato salad, and sampled—near pool sides, under Sycamore trees and on mountainside picnics—versions that ran a gambit of color from pink and red, to yellow, to flecked with the bright green of chives and dill.
It was the RomanianPotato Salad that intrigued me the most; I got the recipe from a friend of a friend who has traveled a good deal in Eastern Europe. Served to me straight out of the refrigerator, its coldness was the perfect complement to its ingredients and the mercury bursting temperatures outside. I loved the beets in it, and the way the sour cream melded with those and kidney beans to make the whole thing look so pink and creamy.  I made a note to serve it at my next Valentine’s Day luncheon, but hope to dish it up long before that; in the few steamy weeks of summer we have left, it’d be a cool and creamy reprieve.

Let me know what your favorite dish to fiddle with is, and I’ll post it to my blog. Do you have a killer roasted corn recipe, like to make bright purple coleslaw, or something else that’s incredibly out of the ordinary, yet supremely delicious? The hungry public wants to know—because we’re all looking for fresh ideas as well as refreshments on our next trip down the buffet line.
Hope to hear from you before the big Labor Day feast : )

Romanian Potato Salad

Serves 6
Prep Time: About 30 minutes
6 to 8 medium beets, scrubbed
1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced, about ½ cup
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced, about 3 cups
1 (12-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
In a large pan of water, boil whole beets and potatoes, skin on, for about 20 minutes or until soft. Remove to a platter, and peel the skin off both vegetables with a knife. Chop beets and potatoes into small pieces and place in a large salad bowl. Bring a pot of water to boil over medium high heat. Cook until soft, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the kidney beans to the salad bowl.
Peel and dice the onion. Add it to the salad bowl. Mix in the sour cream and sun flower oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley leaves.
Suggestion: You can substitute canned beets in this recipe. For a better presentation, choose a smaller salad bowl in order to tightly pack the salad; flip it over to create a potato salad mold and garnish with parsley leaves.

Related Posts with Thumbnails