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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Lazy Gourmet Strikes Again...

Grilled Chipotle-glazed Pork Tenderloin Tacos with Caramelized Onions & Fresh Guacamole

Lots of headlines in the news today: Elliot Spitzer's "Slush Fund" Blunder. The N.Y. Gov got caught with both his pants down and his hand (not to mention more delicate parts of his anatomy) in the cookie jar because he was arrogant enough to ask the bank to mask his pimp payments to the only prostitution ring he used so much, he didn't crack down on. The bank refused to cover up the gov's naughty bits... the rest is history. If he had stuck to food porn, like I do, he'd probably still be governor.

Then, we have the cheerful news that California and Oregon are fresh out of wild salmon which means the Pacific Northwest wild salmon season is over before it began. It appears the salmon have run.... away from our rivers and streams. Oh well, there's always Alaskan salmon which will now cost $99 lb. and at least San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has made sure that all those health-conscious, calorie counting Big Mac eaters know the exact number of protein grams in every super-sized order of fries they eat! There's your tax dollars at work for you. Bravissimo!

One good thing (for reality foodie tv fans, anyway) is the premiere of the long-awaited Top Chef Season 4 in Chicago featuring several SF bay area cheftestants this go-round.
What! you're not familiar with this show and the thrill of watching a bunch of Wolfgang Puck wannabes stab each other in the back with their 9" chef knives? You don't know what you're missing!!!
Apparently, reality tv vet & chef cutie extraordinaire, Rocco DiSpirito will be conducting the first "Quickfire challenge": Deep dish pizza.
Exciting times, Exciting times!!!

To add some further thrills and chills to your day, The Lazy Gourmet strikes again!!! Adding a little cooking & dining pleasure to your busy lives. It's a pork taco cooked in a stove top grill topped with caramelized onions and fresh guacamole. All of it quick and easy to make with an active cooking time of 15 minutes; despite the three steps: marinade, guacamole, cooking. The marinade & guacamole is easy to make and tastes so much better than the packaged stuff.

You start by making the marinade which is no harder than taking the ingredients listed below (& pictured here, as well) and mixing them with a fork in a small bowl; then chuck the pork tenderloin in a Ziploc bag with the marinade, zip the lock & massage the marinade into the pork through the bag. No fuss, no muss.

Chipotle Marinade
  • two chipotle chilis in adobo, minced into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon of reduced sodium soy
  • 1 tablespoon of jerez sherry vinegar (or a mild apple cider or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (don't substitute fresh garlic, it will burn when you grill it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil (it's high smoke point makes it good for grilling)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil (just for a little flavor, it's low smoke point makes it bad for high heat cooking)
  • 1 lb. of pork tenderloin

While the pork marinades, you thinly slice a sweet red onion or two, toss them in a medium-hot pan that's been anointed with olive oil, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper. Not much instruction is needed, other than to remind the cook to keep the heat moderate and give the onions an occasional stir while you prepare the guacamole & the rest of the meal.
Make the guacamole after you start the onions.

Caramelized Onions

  • heavy bottomed saute pan
  • 1-1/2 sweet red onions
  • olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  • freshly ground sea salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup of verjus de perigord ( green grape juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of reduced sodium soy
  • the juice from 1 wedge of lime

Note: People seem to think that guacamole is some mysterious, complex food to make. Nothing could be further from the truth. All it takes are ripe avocados, another handful of ingredients & a dinner fork which I will list somewhat obliquely in the pictures that follow.

One thing does puzzle me though: where does it all go? Somehow, it seems to magically disappear from it's bowl about 2 minutes after I serve it. I can tell you that if I sliced & diced up 4 avocados, a few diced grape tomatoes, 1/3 of a very finely diced onion, the juice of half a lime, a very finely minced clove of garlic, a jalapeno (minced with ribs and seeds removed first), a handful of chopped cilantro, a tiny squirt of sriratcha, a little sea salt & pepper and just threw it all in a dish without mashing it up....

Like so...

... no one would eat it that quickly; if they ate it at all. But, somehow, through the alchemy of mashing those same avocados and mixing all the salad ingredients into it, the mess that is guacamole is endowed with umami qualities so irresistible humans just can't stop eating it!

(Just wanted to illustrate how easy it is to release a perfectly ripe avocado from it's skin. You just peel it with your fingers. It's a fruit, after all, with a thick peel, treat it like one & you'll have no problems with it!)

When the guacamole is done, you set your grill pan on medium-high to heat up and brush it with a heatproof (silicone) basting brush dipped in grapeseed oil or some other neutral tasting oil with a high flash point.

Now let's finish the caramelized onions which should be quite soft & brown by now (if you set them to cook when I suggested). You deglaze the onions pan with some verjus de perigord (green grape juice sold at most good bay area markets) or beer and let it cook down; when it does, you then add a splash of soy sauce (less than a teaspoon) with a grinding of fresh black pepper & a squeeze of fresh lime juice; stir it all in and set the pan on the cooktop's lowest setting while you cook the pork or turn it off if it seems to be burning. We want the onions caramelized not charcoaled!

Next, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then remove your pork tenderloin from the bag, place in the hot pan & brush the top with a little more of the marinade. Grill the pork on your stove top grill pan (my fave is Le Creuset) which takes 12-15 minutes for a 1 lb. tenderloin: starting with five minutes on one side until charred grill marks appear; then flip over & cook another 4 minutes on that side; cook it 4 minutes more on the third side & another couple of minutes on the last side.

Remove it from the heat, letting it rest on the cutting board for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute evenly through the meat. While the meat rests, wrap your tortillas in foil & throw them in the pre-heated oven directly on the rack to heat for five minutes. I am loving these sprouted corn & spelt tortillas. Great flavor & texture and safe for people with wheat allergies!!!

Slice the pork on the bias, against the grain into 1/2" thick medallions. The pork should be pink in the middle.

Add the pork and any accumulated juices to the warm pan of caramelized onions increasing the heat to medium high & combine the onions with the pork. This will both cook the pork further for those who are still frightened of medium rare pork and flavor the pork with the caramelized onions sweet yummy goodness.

Remove the tortillas from the oven & just set them next to the pork on the range top with the guacamole & let everyone serve themselves directly from the pan to assemble their pork tacos.

Buen provecho!

This recipe should serve four but the two of us never have any leftovers!

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