Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork TenderloinsA set of twins in my refrigerator were screaming my name yesterday.

Pork Tenderloin twins that is.

I had to do something with these two beautiful babies and so my creative spirit was sparked.

Besides, I was hungry.

I hadn’t eaten all day.

Isn’t it true that there’s nothing to motivate you in the kitchen like an empty stomach?

So at about noon, I headed for the kitchen.

Yes, it was my intention to turn those tenderloins into a work of art.

[I only wish I could go about my housework with as much joy and vigor as I do when I am cooking or baking.]

So I was feeling maybe just a little (maybe a lot) guilty with the recipe plan I had made for these tenderloins.

The plan being about as far from Paleo friendly as it can get–and Paleo is probably exactly what I should have done with these slabs of meat.

But I didn’t.

I just couldn’t seem to wrench my arm behind my back enough to make me say, Uncle!

Instead, my mind wandered to a silky, smooth, buttery, sherry, caramelized onion and mushroom reduction sauce. I pictured it delicately drizzled over what would soon be succulent, roasted pork tenderloin.

But what to pair it with?

It would be a shame to diminish the limelight from the star of the show.

So I sided with simplicity.

The pairings would be creamy, garlic mashed potatoes kissed by fresh green beans, delicately pan-sautéed with bacon bits and onion…all mingled with that much-anticipated velvety sauce. YUM!

And so, without further adieu, I give you the symphony of the pork tenderloin twins in pictures.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Trimming Fat and Silver Membrane from the Pork Tenderloin

Trimming the excess fat and silver membrane from the tenderloin is a must. Take your time. The more adequately trimmed the meat is, the more deliciously tender it will be.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Pork Tenderloin Trimmed

Next, I rubbed these beauties generously with Canola oil. The smoke point of Canola oil is much better for what I’ll be doing with these darlings later. I love Olive Oil, but it’s just not suitable in this recipe.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Dry Rub Mix for the Tenderloin

I threw together a dry rub. I like to use fresh herbs whenever possible (some fresh thyme would have been nice), but there weren’t any to be had, so I had to make do with what was in the cupboard. I don’t think anyone would have noticed the difference anyway. I never measure anything…I just started tossing in a little of this and a little of that in the bowl–garlic powder, coarse (emphasis on course) sea salt, Montreal Steak seasoning, garlic salt, granulated onion, and a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper. Feel free to come up with your own dry rub concoction…this is just one of my slap and dash favorites .

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Tenderloins with Dry Rub Liberally Applied

I massaged the rub into all sides of the meat. Then I cut up one lime and squeezed one-half of the lime on each tenderloin–lightly rubbing it in. You can’t imagine the difference this one little step makes (the lime that is) in tenderizing the meat and in its flavor. Muy Bueno!

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Squeeze the juice of 1/2 Lime on each tenderloin and gently rub

Wrap the tenderloins tightly in plastic wrap and return them to the fridge to marinate for two or three hours, or until you are ready to roast them. If you are short on time, just marinate them as long as you can. Trust me, this is another step that makes a ginormous difference when you take that first luscious bite.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Wrap Pork Tenderloins tightly in plastic and return to fridge to marinate for two to three hours

Tick-tock, tick-tock…

Okay, two or three hours have passed and now it’s time for the symphony’s crescendo.

Remove the tenderloins from the fridge.

Crank up the old oven to 425 degrees… Make sure the oven is ready to go before you get on with the next step.

While you are waiting for the oven to preheat, it’s time to chop up an onion or two and sauté the mushrooms (I use a cast iron frying pan for the mushrooms).

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Onions for the Sauce

Most people don’t have the patience, but I like my mushrooms nicely browned. They are also so much prettier and tastier at the final presentation. The only way to do this is by sautéing them (about 6 oz. or so) a few at a time in butter, yes, butter. Once they are browned on both sides, set them aside and reserve for later. Aren’t they beautiful?

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Sauté Mushrooms in cast-iron fry pan with butter.

With the oven preheated, its time to make magic. Ready?

Locate your favorite cast-iron frying pan (you should already have the pan ready from the mushroom prep) and slosh in about three tablespoons or so of Canola oil (I told you I never measure–if it looks right that’s the measurement). Don’t over do the oil.

If you don’t have a good, seasoned cast iron frying pan, then I suggest you find one (preferably before you try to cobble this recipe together)–borrow one, steal one (okay, that may be a bit extreme) but do whatever you have to do to track one down. There is no substitute for cast iron when preparing this dish–not if you want the same results. Let that oil and pan get hot, really hot. Then toss those twin gems into the pan and sear those babies on all sides until golden brown.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

In a hot cast iron pan, sear the tenderloins on all sides–about 10 minutes total

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

To Die for! This is what they should look like this when properly seared

This is an incredibly lean meat, so the searing step is critically important–searing seals in all the wonderful juices of the meat and believe it or not, the coarse sea salt used in the dry rub helps give the tenderloin a nice, crunchy crust. My mouth is watering right now just looking at the photo.

Once seared on all sides, remove them from the pan and place the tenderloins on a plate (just long enough to sauté the chopped onion). Throw some butter into the pan (yes, more butter–I warned you this wasn’t Paleo friendly) you just seared the tenderloins in–turn down the heat just a bit and throw in your onion. Make sure you scrape the pan for all those delicious bits left in the pan from the searing of the meat–the flavors in that cast iron pan are exploding right about now–the onion and the butter with the bits of the dry rub and the drippings from the pork are melding. Cook just until slightly translucent as the onions will accompany the tenderloins in the oven, so you don’t want the onion overdone beforehand.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Melted Butter in Cast Iron Pan for Onions

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Onions are just about ready for the Tenderloins and the Oven

Ready, set, go.

Once your onions are ready…throw the tenderloins into the pan with the onions.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Tenderloins On Bed of Onions Ready for Oven

Make sure your oven is fully preheated to 425 degrees and with a couple of hot pads lift the pan and slide that soon-to-be delectable presentation onto the center rack of the oven.

Close the door.

Set the timer for 10 to 15 minutes.

And wait.

Don’t open the oven–don’t even think about it.

Tip: Do NOT let pork roast for longer than 15 minutes–ten minutes is ideal.

While I waited for the roast to finish up, I threw together the green beans. The mashed garlic potatoes were made in advance and were waiting to be served.

Can I just tell you how good these green beans were–WOW!

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Green Bean, Bacon & Onion Side Dish

Beeeep, beeeep… 10 minutes went by quickly.

I was excited.

It was time to drag my masterpiece out of the oven.

I had been whizzing around the kitchen, getting everything set for the meal. Timing is everything for a perfectly presented meal and, I admit, I’m perhaps just a tiny bit obsessive compulsive about this. But is there any other way to be?

My husband kept peeking his head into the kitchen every so often–he knew he was in for gastroporn with this night’s meal.

When I removed the crackling pan from the oven, it was everything I had hoped it would be and more–the onions were caramelized to perfection and the tenderloins appeared perfectly cooked.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Tenderloins Just Out of the Oven and Ready to Rest

I immediately removed the tenderloins to a warm plate to rest, covered them with foil, and quickly got on with making the crowning jewel–the sauce.

I tossed about 1/4 cup of butter (more butter is always better) into the onions and turned the heat to medium, maybe a bit higher. Then came the following: (once again, I didn’t measure) about 1 and 3/4 cups of chicken broth, salt, pepper, and about 1/2 cup dry cooking sherry.

Once the sauce came to a low boil, I immediately lowered the heat to a simmer and all the while the twins were resting, the sauce bubbled and I stirred and stirred some more, sprinkling in a bit more pepper, a few pretty crystals of pink Mediterranean sea salt (love this stuff) and waited.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Making the Delectable Sauce–Oh those onions are so beautifully caramelized

The sauce was thickening as the liquids were reducing…it was transforming into exactly what I had envisioned it would be–rich and smooth. I added the final ingredient–the elegantly browned mushrooms and the sauce was complete.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Mushroom, Sherry & Onion Reduction Sauce

It was time to give it a taste.

Perfection…transcendent.

The sauce was ready to accept the fully rested pork tenderloins.

And here is the final cast-iron presentation–ready to dig into:

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

All Done and Ready to Dig In

It was utterly delicious.

Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

Pork Tenderloins Drizzled with Mushroom, Sherry and Onion Reduction Sauce

Premium! This is Premium, my husband kept saying between forkfuls.

Is there any better feeling when a plan comes together?

Even if it wasn’t Paleo friendly.

2 thoughts on “Hunger and Masterpieces: When Cast Iron Meets Twin Pork Tenderloins

  1. Very informative, absolutely delicious looking, and, I might add, humorously portrayed Twin Pork Loins. I’ve recently finished supper, but my “drool factor” is looking forward to trying this complete recipe. Thanks for sharing. The pictures are excellent!

    Like

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