Fall Flavors: Caramelized Apple and Cherry Stuffed Chicken

3 10 2011

This was a pretty simple meal to pull together and it turned out to be really tasty.  The filling is held together by a cheese that I had never had before, something called Fontina cheese.  It’s a cow’s milk Italian cheese, but it’s also made in Denmark, Sweden and France.  Fontina cheese made in Italy is supposedly much more pungent than it’s counterparts.  Apparently, the Danish version is what is most commonly found in US supermarkets, so I decided to do a little research.  The Danish version tends to be much softer than Italian made Fontina; its also aged for much less time, which is why it yields a softer, milder cheese.

I thought the cheese had a really nice earthy, woodsy taste to it which paired really well with the other fall flavors.  It was also pretty salty which provided a nice contrast with the sweetness of the fruit.  The chicken ended up being more of a background flavor, almost like it was only part of the dish to provide the stuffing with a place to be stuffed.  I will say that the chicken was nice and juicy even after having been baked.  I don’t usually like to bake boneless chicken breasts because it tends to dry out the meat.  I guess marinading it for 8 hours probably helped, though I can’t say I tasted much of the marinade, which was surprising considering how much vinegar went into it.

The following recipe will feed 6-8 people.  I cut the recipe in half and the proportions and the cooking time seemed to work out pretty well.

Caramelized Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast with Fontina and Bing Cherries

Ingredients:

1/4 C red wine vinegar
2/3 C apple cider vinegar
2 t Dijon mustard
1 t dry mustard
4 t honey
3/4 c plus 2T olive oil
8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
3 medium fuji apples
1 1/2 T butter
6 1/2 oz shredded Fontina cheese
6 1/2 dried bing cherries

For the marinade: Place vinegars, mustards, and honey in a food processor.  Turn it on and drizzle in olive oil until fully combined.  Marinade the chicken in this mixture overnight.

The directions I have say to mark the chicken by grilling them just long enough to make grill marks on one side.  The chicken is supposed to stay completely raw inside.  The directions don’t really say why you’re supposed to do this, but I think it’s to help when it comes time to stuff the breasts.  Don’t quote me on that though, I’m just guessing.  If someone makes this and decides not to do the grill marks, will you let me know how it turns out?

Ok anyway, once you’ve got nice grill marks on the chicken, pop it in the fridge while you make the stuffing.  To make the stuffing, peel, core, and roughly chop the apples.  Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium high heat and add the apples.  Cook for roughly 5-10 minutes until deeply browned (I cooked mine for more than 20 minutes and they didn’t get deeply anything…they did turn a nice tan color…)  Remove from heat and place in a mixing bowl.  (The recipe kinda fails to mention that you should let the apples cool a little bit before you mix them in with the shredded cheese and roughly chopped cherries.   So, you should let the apples cool a little before you mix them with the cheese and cherries.  Just so you know.)  Add to Fontina and cherries.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Here’s the apples when I started cooking them.  They really didn’t get much darker.  Also, I could have cut them a little bit smaller.  I absolutely love the smell of apples cooking.  It brings to mind all things fall and apple pie and pretty leaves and…my happy place lol.

This is what the stuffing looked like.  The dried bing cherries looked like raisins, but probably about twice as big.  They were tricky to chop cuz they were pretty sticky, but they were nice and sweet.  The next time I make granola or a dried fruit mix, I will definitely be using these.  I already told you all about Fontina cheese.  I bought a small square of it that was about 5 ounces.  I didn’t need all of it, but i used it anyway cuz I’m a big fan of cheese.  Shredding it was a lot like trying to shred mozzarella; the softness and texture were really similar.  You can kinda see in this picture the color the apples turned, which is really much closer to tan than deeply browned 🙂

To cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut a slit in the thicker part of each breast about an inch deep and running almost the whole length of the breast.  Stuff the chicken with the apple stuffing mixture, cramming in as much as possible without ripping the meat. (Cramming was the word they used.  Seriously.  Cramming.)  At this point, the chicken is ready to be baked, or can be held in the fridge for up to 24 hours.  Bake 12-15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer read 155 degrees.  (Yea, actually this takes 20-25 minutes.  Also, it’s really tricky to get an accurate read on the temp of the meat.  I mean, you stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken to check, but half way down there’s a gaping pocket of melted cheese and yummy apple/cherry goodness.  Getting an accurate read is not an easy task.  Also, be sure to avoid touching anything in the oven.  400 degrees is hot, as the blister on my index finger will tell you.)

I kinda got lazy when it came to thinking up a good side dish for this meal.  There was just so much going on, I didn’t want to make anything that would detract from the complex flavors already happening.  I ended up microwave steaming a bag of frozen mixed veggies.  It worked out pretty good.

Doesn’t it look yummy all together?  As you can see, the chicken kind of disappears behind the stuffing.  I had extra and instead of letting it go to waste, I decided to spoon it over the top of the chicken.  As it baked, the cheese on top melted and then cooked into a bit of a crust which added an awesome texture.  The cheese inside just got all melty and gooey and yum.

This picture is a little bit clearer/brighter.  I know it’s still not great, and I swear I will try to remember to bring my actual camera into the kitchen with me so I can take some decent pictures.  But I figured this was better than nothing.  It’s still hard for me to remember to stop what I’m doing and snap a pic.  It’s like I get into a rhythm and I forget about everything else.  Which might be why I love to cook.

I’m kind off the cooking hook this week, at least in theory.  Other people apparently want some kitchen time.  At least that was the story on Sunday when the grocery shopping was being made up.  It’s only Monday, and it looks like I’m going to be cooking at least once this week.  Probably more.  We’re all kind of getting used to having new and unusual meals rather than the quick, easy and common food we used to eat.

I did volunteer to make the Garlic Onion Baked Rice to go with something and I’m totally making the Apple Coffee Cake again, because it was really really good.  I’ll take lots of pictures of that and post them so you can see what I was talking about in the original post.

I’m looking for a new and interesting salmon dish.  I’ve got a few really good ones, but I feel like I’m using them a lot so I’m hoping someone out there might have some creative suggestions they wouldn’t mind sharing.

I suppose that’s all for now.  Oh, wait!  I almost forgot.  I’ve decided that if I’m gonna be all “Oh, I’m a pretty good cook” I should probably have some kind of an idea about wine.  I’m not a wine drinker.  Actually, I can’t think of a single time I’ve ever actually drank wine.  Is that sad?  I’m 26 and I don’t think I’ve ever had wine.  Anyway, someone mentioned that Arbor Mist is a great way to break into the wine world because their wines tend to be fruity and sweet.  I don’t know, it sounded like a good reason.  So I bought a bottle of their Zinfandel Sangria.  I’m pretty pumped to try it.  I also found a recipe for mulled wine and it sounds like this one will work great for that.  We shall see.  And as always, I will let you know what happens.  Aren’t you excited?  No?  Well, you should be.  This could provide eons of entertainment.  Well maybe not eons…um…

Thanks for reading!

Happy cooking 🙂

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Cuban Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Soffrito Rice

28 09 2011

I finally got to make the pork tenderloin recipe that I’ve been dying to try.  It was definitely worth the wait.  I even remembered to take some pictures.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

Rice:
1 T olive oil
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 3/4 C chicken broth
1 1/2 C white rice
1/2 t tumeric
Salt

Pork:
2 pork tenderloins, trimmed, about 2 1/2 lbs total weight
4 cloves garlic, cracked away from the skin
4 bay leaves
2 t anise seeds
2 t ground coriander
1 T ground cumin
2 T grill seasoning
2 limes, zested
Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Heat a medium pot over medium high heat.  Add oil and bacon, brown bacon.
  3. Add peppers and onions and saute 5 minutes
  4. Add broth and bring to a boil
  5. Add rice.  Cover.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cook 15-18 minutes, until rice is tender
  6. Cut 4 slits into each loin and nest the garlic and bay into meat
  7. Place meat on a nonstick baking sheet.  Coat meat with oil.
  8. Mix spices.  Rub evenly over meat.
  9. Roast meat 25 minutes (or until internal temperature reaches 147 degrees)
  10. Remove from over and let rest 10 minutes.  Slice and serve with Soffrito Rice

Another simple meal to prepare that was simply delicious.  I think my rice needed to cook a little longer as it was a bit chewy for my tastes, but it was still pretty yummy.  The pork was great.  The spices kind of baked into a crust which made for some wonderful texture contrasts.  Also, since I only had one lime I ended up not only using the zest but the juice as well.  I’m glad I did.  The spice combo was a little intense but the lime flavor really balanced it out and provided a nice cool, mellow background.

So now for the pictures.  Again, I took them with my phone, and they aren’t super high quality.  So my apologies.

This would be the rice about halfway through the cooking time.  I couldn’t resist a peek, but apparently it’s bad form to take the lid off while you’re cooking.  I’m told rice is really low maintenance and that it can take care of itself.  Also, taking off the lid allows moisture to escape which means less for the rice to absorb.  Make sure you have a good, tight fitting lid too.

This is what the rice looked like when it was done.  I know it’s kind of hard to see in the picture, but the rice is actually yellow.  Tumeric is bright orange, and when I added it to the pot, everything turned yellow.  It’s pretty neat.  I’m not sure if my rice needed more time or more liquid, but like I said, it was a bit undercooked for my tastes.  Not that it was inedible, I just prefer my rice a little more tender that what I ended up with.

And here we have hot, juicy pork tenderloin fresh out of the oven.  It turned out that 25 minutes was the perfect amount of time to cook these.  When I checked the internal temperature just before taking them out, they were 151 degrees.  I let them sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes or so, before cutting into them.  They were super juicy and cooked perfectly all the way through.

I know this is a crappy excuse for a picture, but I wanted everyone to be able to see the finished dish.  I went to plate everything up after I was finished cooking only to discover that we only had one clean plate.  Which annoyed me to no end.  Then I figured, heck, we can just use bowls.  Yea, we had one clean normal bowl and one clean small bowl.  So, I mixed and matched.  And passive aggressively “forgot” to start the dishwasher so the idiot who didn’t run it after eating breakfast this morning won’t have any dishes for breakfast tomorrow morning.  Yes, I am aware of how childish that is.  Don’t lie, you’re secretly chuckling inside.

All in all I was pretty happy with how things turned out.  I think next time I make this I might make a mango chutney or salsa to go with the pork just for another added layer of flavor.  Plus, this didn’t really feel like a complete meal, so maybe some fruit would make it feel more balanced.  Any suggestions?  What else could I make to go with this that would compliment the flavors?  What other Cuban inspired dishes you do like to make?

Coming tomorrow: Caramelized Apple Stuffed Chicken.

Happy cooking!  Thanks for reading 🙂





Fall Fresh Apple Turnovers

27 09 2011

Oh my.

Ah.Maze.Ing.

Seriously, these are like personal sized apple pies with a fluffy-er crust.

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 T lemon Juice
4 C water
4 granny Smith apples- peeled, cored and sliced
2 T butter
1 C brown sugar, packed
1 t cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
1 (17.25 oz) package pastry sheets

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Combine the lemon and 4 cups water in a large bowl.  Place the sliced apples in the water to keep them from browning
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Drain water from apples and place them in the hot skillet.  Stir and cook for 2-4 minutes.
  4. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Cook, stirring for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Stir together water and cornstarch.  Pour into skillet and mix well.  Cook another 3-5 minutes until sauce has thickened
  6. Remove from heat to cool slightly
  7. Unfold puff pastry sheets.  Repair and cracks.  Cut each sheet in half lengthwise, then width-wise, making 8 squares of dough total.
  8. Spoon apples into the center of each square.  Fold over corner to corner, making a triangle shape.  Press edges together to seal
  9. place turnovers on a baking sheet about an inch apart.
  10. Brush with egg and sprinkle with granular sugar.
  11. Bake 20-25 minutes until turnovers are puffed and lightly browned.
  12. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet then remove to wire rack to cool the rest of the way.  (Or just eat them warm)

I promised to start taking pictures of my kitchen creations.  Forgive the quality, the only camera I had handy was the one on my phone.

I think there should be little lines of deliciousness coming off from them, because they really are.  delicious I mean.  Here’s another picture, just so you can enjoy how yummy they look from the comfort of your own home 🙂

The dark brown bits you see are the filling that leaked out while I was making the turnovers slash while they were cooking.  They’re yummy little bits of apple cinnamon caramel.

I ended up with about a 2 cups of leftover filling even after I stuffed these turnovers to bursting.  I’m thinking I’ll either hang on to the filling, maybe freeze it so I can make more turnovers in a week or two.  That, or I’ll cook them a little longer and just serve them with some vanilla frozen yogurt.  Like Apple Pie A La Mode, except healthy-ish.  What would you do with the left over filling?

Happy cooking!  Thanks for reading 🙂





Blackberry Turnovers

27 09 2011

We’ve had a big bag of blackberries sitting in our freezer for awhile now.  I’ve been trying to think of what I could make with them and last week I finally decided on turnovers.  I liked the simplicity of the turnovers and I liked that I was using a berry that’s not typical of turnovers.  I did a little bit of research on the web to figure out what I needed to make the filling.  I ended up using a recipe that I found on another blog (In Fine Fettle blog) which worked out pretty well.  You should check out the blog, the author has some pictures (which I really will post…eventually…I swear).  Anyway, for your convenience, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • about 4 cups blackberries
  • sugar to taste, about 1/2 to 1 cup (I like them a little tart especially if I am serving with ice cream)
  • about 1 table spoon lemon juice
  • about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • about 1/8 cup tapioca (I substituted with cornstarch.  About 1 1/4 T)
  • 2 sheets puff pastry thawed
  • sugar
  • 1 egg beaten

I actually cut this recipe in half since I didn’t think I had 4 cups of berries and I only had 1 sheet of puff pastry left.  I also sprinkled in a little nutmeg.  To make the filling, add your berries, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and tapioca (or equivalent thickener) to a saucepan. Stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Let the filling boil for a minute or so until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and cool before assembling the turnovers.

Once filling is cool, roll out the puff pastry on a floured board and cut into squares of desired size. Moisten the edges of the square with egg wash and add a heaping spoonful of the filling into the middle of the square. Fold one corner of the dough over to the opposite corner and seal edges with a fork. Wash the turnover with the beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar and cut one or two vents in the top. Repeat until all turnovers are assembled and bake at 400 degrees until they have reached a deep golden brown (about 20-25 minutes).

I love blackberries, so I was really excited about these.  The sauce was pretty runny, I think because I was using frozen berries instead of fresh which meant there was more liquid.  Things got a little messy when I was assembling the turnovers; the sauce didn’t really wanna stay where I put it.  Turns out it didn’t really matter.  I cooked my turnovers for 25 minutes and they were a little over done, but not too bad.  They looked fantastic.  I wish I had thought about the stupid seeds that are in blackberries.  They’re kinda big and hard to miss which sort of detracted from the whole delicious-ness of the dessert, but if you can get past that, they were wonderful.

Coming next week: Apple Turnovers, Cuban Spiced Pork Tenderloin and Soffrito Rice, and Caramelized Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast.  Are you excited?  You should be…

Happy cooking!  Thanks for reading 🙂





Sausage and Roasted Veggie Penne

27 09 2011

 

This was a wicked easy meal to make.  And it was really yummy which is always nice.  Next time, I’ll be using more sausage than and I’ll probably cut the onions up a bit more than I did, but other than that I wouldn’t change a thing.  Here’s what I used and how I made it:

Ingredients:
1 sweet onion, cut into wedges
1 medium zucchini, halved
1 red bell pepper, cut into quarters
1/2 lb button mushrooms, stems removed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 sweet or hot Italian sausages (I used 2 sweet and 1 hot.  Next time I’ll probably use 3 of each)
1/4 C white wine
12 oz penne pasta cooked according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish*

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Spread veggies on a baking dish.  The zucchini should be placed cut side up.
  • Drizzle veggies generously with olive oil.  (I kind of tossed things around the pan to coat everything)
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Turn veggies at halfway point.
  • Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat.  (I cut the sausage into bite sized rounds before cooking just to make my life easier.  You can cut them up after you cook ’em, just be sure you cook them through.)
  • Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with the white wine.  When the liquid has almost cooked off, add the sausage and pan scrapings to the penne.
  • Once the veggies are done cooking, let them cool slightly then coarsely chop before adding them to the pasta.  Add the reserved pasta water if needed to moisten.
  • Salt and pepper to taste and serve in bowls topped with fresh Parmesan cheese.

I decided to get kind of creative with the Parmesan cheese.  I had seen some chef of the Food Network lace-like Parmesan crisps and I thought that would make an excellent topping for this dish.  The crisps are really easy to make.  You need a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan cheese for each crisp.  I recommend using parchment paper to keep the crisps from cooking onto your baking sheet.  For each crisp, place a heaping tablespoon of cheese on your parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Use the back of your spoon to spread the cheese out into a thin layer.  Repeat.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.  These are really good, salty and would probably go really well with most any pasta dish.  I liked the crunch they gave to this meal.

Be sure to check out my next blog for my blackberry turnover recipe!

Happy cooking!  Thanks for reading 🙂





Dijon Tarragon Chicken with Garlic Rice Pilaf

27 09 2011

Ok, I know that rice is a side dish and that it’s not the focus of the meal and all that, but the Garlic Rice Pilaf I made was delicious.  Like, De.Lish.Us.  I don’t have a ton of experience with cooking rice.  I usually just buy those big boxes of boil in bag rice and call it good.  I really wanted to try something different.  When I decided to make the chicken, I realized that a nice rice dish would pair perfectly with it.  I started with a recipe I found on Food.com and just kind of ran with it.  Here’s the modified recipe:

Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf

Ingredients
2 T butter
3 garlic cloves, crushed (or 3-4 t minced garlic)
1 medium white onion, diced
1-2 C cooked peas
1 C long grain white rice
2 1/2 C chicken broth, divided
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2-4 T lemon juice

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Heat butter in skillet; add onions, garlic and rice.  Cook until onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add 1 cup of broth and salt and pepper
  • Bring to a boil and pour into a baking/casserole dish.  Cover and bake 25 minutes.
  • Add remaining broth, stir, re-cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice, stir, re-cover and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, fluff rice with a fork and gently stir in peas.

This makes some seriously perfect rice.  The flavor was amazing and I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.  I ended up adding a little extra broth when I added the lemon juice because I was worried that things would get too dry.  I don’t think it would have been necessary if I had been using a casserole dish that actually had a snug fitting lid rather than foil.  I think this would also make a good base for a fried rice of some kind.   Just a note, when I reheated the rice in the microwave, I added a tablespoon or 2 of water before nuking it to keep it from drying out.

As for the chicken.   I’ve never poached anything in my life until I made this dish.  It’s not  like it’s hard, I mean you just boil broth and drop in chicken breasts, but having never done it before I was afraid I was going to over cook (or worse, under cook) the chicken.  I ended up turning the burner down too low when I was supposed to be simmering and the chicken took a little longer to cook that I had anticipated, but it worked out.  As for making a pan sauce, I have apparently done this a few times before but I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing.  I ended up using more butter than the recipe listed, and I didn’t actually use tarragon.  I didn’t have any so I substituted in some other dried green herbs lol.  I used oregano, a little basil, some parsley and some freeze dried chives.  I was a little worried they wouldn’t go so well with the dijon, but the sauce turned out really well so I guess it worked out in the end.  Here’s the recipe:

Dijon Tarragon Chicken

Ingredients:
3 1/2 C chicken broth
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T butter (I used more like 4 T)
2 T flour
1 T Dijon mustard
2 T dried green herbs (=})
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Bring broth to a boil.
  • Add chicken to broth, cover and reduce heat to simmer
  • Poach chicken 12 minutes
  • Remove chicken to a plate and transfer broth to a large measuring cup or mixing bowl.
  • Return pan to heat and add butter.  When the butter melts, add flour and cook, whisking with butter, about 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add broth back in until sauce reaches desired thickness, combining with whisk.
  • Stir in Dijon mustard and dried green herbs
  • Return chicken to pan and coat with sauce.  Simmer 2-3 minutes to reheat chicken and combine flavors.

I think I added between half and 3/4 of the broth into the sauce.  I added it a little at a time and whisked to combine everything so I could gauge the thickness as I went.  It’s easy to add more liquid, but getting it out is a little tricky.  You can make your sauce as thick or thin as you’d like.

Mine ended up the consistency of an Alfredo sauce, maybe a little thicker.  Poaching the chicken keeps it nice and moist.  I’m thinking once I get used to poaching things, it’ll be a little easier to tell when stuff is done cooking.  As it was, I ended up cutting into the thickest part of the breasts 3 or 4 times to check and see if the chicken was cooked through.  I’m glad I was just cooking for us because 3 or 4 cuts halfway through the chicken kinda left the breasts looking a little ragged. Oh well, they were tasty.  That’s all that matters, right?  This is definetly something I’ll be making again.  Maybe next time I’ll actually use tarragon.

Oh, by the way, the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of fresh, chopped tarragon OR 2 teaspoons of dried tarragon.  Just so you know in case you’d rather not use assorted dried green herbs.  Either way…

Happy cooking folks!  Thanks for reading 🙂





Peppery Pork with Caramelized Onions (and Pears)

20 09 2011

“That was good.”

My father is a man of few words.  Him complimenting my cooking was kind of a big deal.

I was really excited with how good everything came out tonight.  I wasn’t using a recipe (gasp!) so I was kind of nervous.  I don’t think of myself as an experienced enough cook to just make things up as I go, but that’s exactly what I did.  And I was successful, which is always a pleasant surprise.  Pre-heating the oven wasn’t such a success.  It seems when I made the French Toast Casserole the other day, some of the buttery topping ended up on the bottom of my oven.  It turns out that when butter and sugar sit in an oven for extended period of time, like while I’m preheating it, it re-melts and then burns.  And so you know, burning butter and sugar create A LOT of smoke.  Of course, I was totally oblivious to the smoke pouring from the oven.  It’s not really my fault.  I was cutting the onions so I figured that my eyes were watering from that.  It wasn’t until after I had cut up 2 red onions and 2 Bartlet pears that I turned to the sink and saw all the smoke.  I got pretty lucky seeing as nothing actually caught on fire, but I had to cook the biscuits before all the crap had burned off and they ended up tasting a little smokey…

Other than that would-be disaster, things went pretty smoothly.  I bought the pork tenderloin on Sunday and let it hang out in a peppercorn marinade all day yesterday and today.  You don’t have to marinade it for that long, but I find when cooking pork, the longer it marinades, the juicier it is after it’s cooked.  I was originally just going to brine the pork and do a sort of herb crust, but when I decided I wanted to have caramelized onions with it, I figured a marinade would be a better choice.  The marinade was made up of water, vinegar, salt, crushed black peppercorns, some garlic and onion powder and some lemon juice.  I didn’t really measure anything out.  I put the tenderloin in a big freezer bag and poured the marinade over it.  I pressed out as much of the air as I could and just let everything hang out in my fridge for a couple of days.

Before cooking the pork, I let it sit on my counter for about a half an hour.  This apparently promotes even cooking.  I say apparently because I did not know that was why until just now, when I looked it up.  I didn’t realize I didn’t know until I was typing this up.  No, I’m not crazy.  Did you know?

Anyway, while the pork was hanging out getting all room temperature like, I whipped up some biscuits and started caramelizing my onions and pears.  The biscuits were super easy.  I just used Bisquick mix and milk, plus some garlic powder.  I usually add a good sized handful of cheddar cheese to the mix, but we didn’t have any 😦  I used 2.5 cups of the Bisquick and about 2/3s of a cup of milk.  I didn’t measure the garlic powder, I just kind of added what looked like a good amount.  I mixed it all up, gave the dough a few good squeezes instead of kneading it and roughly divided it into 6 biscuits.  Well, biscuits is a bit misleading.  I really just spooned the dough into 6 piles on a greased cookie sheet.  I sprinkled them with a little more garlic powder and put em in the oven.   They only needed to cook for 10 minutes, and if I had thought about it, I would have just put them in after the pork was done instead of cooking them first.  They came out pretty good.  Like I said, I had to cook them in an oven that was still a little full of smoke, and that kinda changed the flavor of the biscuits, but they were still tasty.

In an earlier post, I shared my caramelizing onions adventures.  I was pretty confident that I knew what I was doing this time around.  Things went smoothly, but I was surprised to see how much liquid hung around in the pan.  When I caramelized the white onion for the Pesto Stuffed Pork dish, I had to add liquid every now and then to deglaze the pan and keep the onions from sticking as they browned.  I didn’t have to do that with the red onions.  I don’t know if red onions have more moisture or what, but it made my life pretty easy.

After the onions started to soften up a bit, I added the pear slices and cooked them together for probably 10 minutes over medium high heat (more medium than high).  When the onions did start to stick, I used about a tablespoon of white wine to deglaze the pan and once the liquid had cooked off, I transferred the onions and pears to a foil lined roasting pan.  I turned the heat up a little bit and seared the tenderloin for less than a minute on each side before adding it to the roasting pan.  I would have just put the skillet in the oven, but the tenderloin didn’t quite fit.

I cooked the tenderloin in a 425 degree oven for about a half hour, maybe a few minutes more.  You can cook it a lower or higher temperatures, it doesn’t make much of a difference.  What’s important is that the internal temperature of the pork reach between 145 and 150 degrees before you take it out of the oven.  Mine was 147 degrees when I took it out.  I transferred the tenderloin to my cutting board and let it rest for about 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute.  Before I cut it, I decided to see just how much the temperature had gone up.  In a previous post, I’m pretty sure I said the temp would go up about 7 degrees after resting for 5-10 minutes.  My tenderloin was 152 degrees before I cut it up.  So, my point is…ah…oh yea.  My point is, keep this in mind for when your cooking pork, or any meat I would guess.  The meat continues to cook even after you remove it from the oven.

While the pork was resting, I popped the biscuits back in the oven for a minute or two to re warm them.  This is what I meant earlier when I said that I could have waited to cook them until after the pork was done.  Oh well, I’ll know next time.  My dad cut the pork.  Yea, he’s that guy.  The man’s man kinda guy that carves the turkey and the ham and any other meat that needs carving.  It’s his job.  I just rolled my eyes and let him feel manly.

The pork was really tender and juicy.  And pepper-y.  The marinade gave it a really good flavor.  The caramelized onions and pears were sweet, soft and buttery and were a really good contrast to the pepper-y-ness of the pork.  Ahh, balance.  And all without really trying.  I’m kind of impressed with myself.  *Pats self on back* *Grins*

I felt kinda daring cooking without a recipe.  My only worry?  That I won’t be able to reproduce these fantastic results next time.  And I’m not even that worried about it, because this was a pretty simple meal to make.

Tomorrow I’m going to poach chicken for the first time ever.  And make a pan sauce, which I’ve apparently done before without realizing it.  Wish me luck 🙂

Happy cooking folks.  Thanks for reading