Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Let's Cook

One thing I really enjoy, is cooking. Not to be confused with *baking* - that's a completely different animal that I don't seem to have acquired a knack for yet. Although if I had a new mixer/blender thing... hmmm...

Where were we? Cooking! Right... Since I write about anything, today I will write about one of my recently-found new-favorite recipes - Roasted Pork Loin w/ Asparagus and Mustard Vinaigrette Sauce. If you like pork loin or asparagus, this might be a winner for you too. I happen to like both, and I count mustard on my short list of "favorite condiments" - so this one is right in my wheelhouse.

Prep on this dish is pretty simple, which is why I like it. Often when I get home, I don't have a ton of time to cook dinner so I like stuff like this that involves hands-free cooking. You can add more flavor to it if time and circumstances allow, but really you can do the basics and get a nice easy meal out of this. Kudos to Real Simple magazine for publishing the recipe!

  • Pork Loin ~1.5lbs or so - a bit more if you want leftovers.

  • Salt and Pepper - Stolen Salt = More flavor!

  • Good quality gin - (Plymouth, Bombay Sapphire)

  • 1 bunch of Asparagus (usually about a pound, good for 2 big servings, 3 small)

  • 2-3 golf ball sized Shallots - 1 small sweet onion if not available

  • Olive Oil

  • Tonic Water (Schweppes is my brand)

  • Over-safe skillet or pan

  • 1 tbsp Coarse-Grained mustard, I like something brown and spicy

  • 2tbsp Cider Vinegar

  • Highball glass w/Ice

So its pretty simple: Pour an ounce or two of gin (depending on your day) into the highball glass. Add tonic to taste. Set aside. Turn the oven on, to 400... turn the stove on to medium high, put a splash of oil in the pan and the pork loin. Season to taste with salt and pepper... I don't put a ton on, but I think the original called for 1/4 teaspoon which seemed way too little for a 2lb pork loin. Drink a bit of gin as a reward - now we're cooking!

Let the loin cook and brown a little on each side, turn it every 3-4 minutes until the outside is cooked all the way around. WHILE the loin cooks, rinse off the asparagus, and slice the shallots (onion) into small wedges. Lay out the asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet - I always line mine with foil for easier cleanup. Now layer the chopped shallots over the top... then sprinkle with Salt and Pepper to taste.

By now the loin has likely cooked all around, it usually takes me about 10 minutes to prep the asparagus. Take another swallow of the G&T, then take the entire pan, and stick it in the oven - Set timer for 20 minutes...

At this point, I usually do 2 things. Drink more gin, and change out of my work clothes into something comfy like jeans or sweats. I suppose I could clean up the kitchen a little, but then the Life Partner wouldnt have much to do when she gets home. By the time I return, the timer is down to around ~8 mins and its time to put in the asparagus! Drizzle the asparagus with the olive oil, using a couple tablespoons... My tool of choice here is an oil sprayer I got for Christmas. Once its been drizzled (Not jizzled - that's what Pawl does) slide it into the oven. Didn't burn yourself? Celebrate with another swig of gin! Note how much time is left on the timer, too.

While the last of the timer counts down, mix the Cider Vinegar, the Mustard, and 1/3 cup Olive Oil together to make the sauce. A whisk works awesome for this - you need to aerate the oil to get a good mix, and a spoon won't cut it. Just takes ~90 seconds of whisking, and your sauce = done. Did the timer go off yet? No? Well then we should take another sip...

Ding! Timer! Your pork roast should be about done - you can get fancy and check it with a thermometer if you want. Now reset your timer to 15 minus when you put in the asparagus.... hopefully something around 10 minutes or so. The pork needs to "rest" for at least 5 minutes before slicing... I don't remember why, but all the good cooking books say to do it. Maybe its for the cook to rest? I prefer to drink while I rest... your call though.

Once the timer is down 5 mins, I start slicing the pork and plating it. (That's a fancy cook term I learned watching Iron Chef) By the time I get a couple plates cut, the timer goes off, and I add a pile of asparagus and shallots to the plate. To top it off I drizzle (again, NOT jizzle) the Mustard Sauce over the meat and veggies... and viola!

I like to serve it with a crusty bread on the side (as you can hopefully see in my picture) that I dip in olive oil on the side. Pork, Asparagus, Bread. Ready in 35-40 minutes, and really pretty easy...

Some customization ideas: If you plan ahead, you can also marinate the loin the night before, giving it some added flavor. I have used Teriyaki and a Garlic/Balsamic Vinegar mix before. And the Asparagus can take some added flavor too if you like - squirt some lemon juice on there in the last 5 minutes of cook time, or add garlic cloves to the shallots at the start. Roasted Garlic? Mmmmm... I better go eat now.


Dagon said...

That reminds me, i pulled out and used (for the first time since...ever) the blender the ex left here, it's yours if you want it.

librarianrandy said...

This looks good.