Monday, September 04, 2006

The Other White Meat


Many moons ago when I moved to Australia I realized that I had better learn to cook or M and I would starve to death! I mean seriously, a fancy dinner involved some chicken cooked with in an inch of dust bowl consistency in way too much butter and AuGratin Potatoes a-la Betty Crocker! And they don't know Betty in Oz! Let me tell you for the first few weeks in OZ we pretty much ate the same meal over and over again ‘cause even the McDonald’s (affectionately known as Macca’s down under) food tasted different.

I still had training wheels on my pots and pans when I met my neighbor – and soon to be life long best friend – over the garden fence. In a fit of neighborly excitement I invited my new victim to dinner that weekend. She gracefully accepted and the panic set in! What was I thinking – I had never thrown a dinner party before!

After much frenzied running around and visiting of the local butcher shops (yes, they still have those in Oz – we actually had 2 in Mt Eliza) I decided on pork tenderloin. I had never cooked a tenderloin before, but thought I could swing it. And swing it I did, the meat was good the veg was good, and the starter soup was actually the star. The only foible was that when my guests arrived – keep in mind I was in a complete state of panic – they handed me a bottle in a brown bag. Like a dunce I just popped that bad boy in the fridge. Well, that bad boy was a VERY expensive bottle of Redman red wine. Not wanting to be difficult my guests kept quiet thinking maybe in the US we chill red wine. God, was I ever embarrassed when M took the bottle out of the fridge at dinner and realized what it was and how much it was worth. We had a good laugh about it; but I still feel like I owe my friends a good bottle of Redman!

Where I am going with all this, is that I chose the pork on a whim, but as it turns out pork tenderloin has become one of my favorite – if not the favorite – meat choice for dinner. In the years since my first attempt I have learned quite a bit about cooking meat and with the aid of a fabulous little gadget, I have no fear of ruining a great cut of meat. With a little meat thermometer inserted before tossing the meat to the flames I am assured that it will be perfectly, rare, well done medium, you name it ‘cause this little gem actually beeps at you when you hit the desired temperature! Okay, so this isn’t the only thing it takes to make a great tenderloin but it is the biggest part of the puzzle. Over cooking meat will ruin it, not matter how good the rub, marinade or glaze.

Recently I found a fabulous guide in meat prep in Niman Ranch Cookbook. Formerly I cooked roasts at the same temp all the way through, with great results (thank you again Polder). However, after reading this book – and book it is, not just a cookbook – I learned quite a bit about meat and what happens when you cook it. Since I got this book I have followed their procedure of “sear and slow” I have found the meat I have cooked to be more tender and more flavorful than ever before.

This lovely piece of pork was coated with a mixture I use for both beef and pork (works with chicken too). I admit to having used a prepared green peppercorn sauce, I mean seriously who has green peppercorns hanging around 24/7? There are s-o-o-o many great prepared sauces out there now, that I don’t feel guilty about using them. Don’t be afraid to embellish a package sauce to make it your own – I added a bit of butter to give this sauce some body and a little extra richness. Occasionally I have replaced half the water with cream, really rich!

I am attaching my “recipe” but I recommend you buy the cookbook and follow their instructions for roasting the loin or any meat for that matter. Read it carefully and know that they may not follow FDA guide lines exactly, but I have had NO problems cooking my pork medium. Enjoy!


Emma said...

Thanks for your entry to DMBLGIT - have a look at the entries here

I use the "sear and slow" roasting method now too, I discovered it in the River Cottage Meat book - brilliant book too - I think you might like it!

Di's Kitchen said...

Thanks Emma,

Sounds like I need to add this book to my ever growing collection!!