Friday, March 22, 2013

Apéritif Friday! - Stuffed Pork Tenderloin and Roasted Cauliflower

Apéritif Friday discussions start about Wednesday morning over coffee in my house. "What're we doing this weekend?"

"Nothing but the usual. No plans."

"What're we going to cook on Friday night?"

"I dunno. Whaddya want?"

"I don't care."

"I've got a pork tenderloin that we need to do something with."

"OK. Sounds good."

Skip to Thursday morning."Hon, I think you should stuff that pork."

"That's funny. I already bought the ingredients to do just that."

It's a little eerie sometimes how Mr. Musky knows what goes on in my skull. Maybe if I'm ever kidnapped, he'll know exactly where to go to rescue me because he's so intimately in tune with my grey matter. Or will he lose our life savings and follow the rules my kidnappers demand, paying the ransom while they execute me anyway? Will he botch the whole thing like the Dude in The Big Lebowski? Nah. He'll barge in all John McClane-like. Yippee-ki-yay and all.

Sheesh. Total digression.

So here's how it went down a few weeks ago. It was actually Saturday, so I'm already taking liberties with Apéritif Friday on my first post. Whatever. My blog, my rules. Apparently, I'm a sassy little thing today. Here are the ingredients.
The Pizza Hut box is not photobombing my ingredients. It IS an ingredient. Lemme explain.

The night before we ordered pizza for the kids, as we needed a grown-up time-out at a local restaurant. I ordered a large portion of breadsticks, unaware that it would fill an entire pizza box and feed a small army. After several snacks for the swipers in my house, we still had leftovers. Mr. Musky suggested we use them in the stuffing. My knee-jerk reaction: "Eewww. Nasty. No way."

The bread options in my pantry were limited, I had no desire to make a trip to the store, and the breadsticks were already seasoned. I changed my tune. Haute cuisine? No way. Sometimes we get fancy, sometimes we get original. I hate throwing away leftovers of any kind. And for this, they actually worked. Really well. I'm even thinking about sending a large batch of breadsticks to my mother in November on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving so she can use them as a base for her stuffing this year.

So in addition to about 6 breadsticks from Pizza Hut, or the equivalent (maybe about 5-6 pieces of good, stale sourdough or multigrain? Wonder Bread, albeit nasty, would work too), you'll also need a 3 lb. pork tenderloin, 1/2 a medium onion, a granny smith apple, a stick or two of celery, two garlic cloves, an egg, 3/4 cup of mushrooms (I used shiitake), a green pepper, bulk Italian sausage, some butter and olive oil. Oh - and some fresh sage, or any other seasoning (oregano, basil, thyme, or all 3) you like. I just had the fresh on hand so I used it up.

Start by chopping up the onion, carrot and celery and sauté it in some olive oil and butter. When it's cooked down a bit, throw in a couple of minced garlic cloves, a bit of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of the pepper mill.

It'll all start to stick to the pan a bit, which is good. Just don't char it. Pour a couple of glugs of Chardonnay around the pan to deglaze, scraping up the goodums on the bottom of the pan. When the alcohol has magically disappeared, imparting its flavor into the colorful mixture, add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Dump it into a dish, add the chopped Granny Smith apple, and set aside.

Reheat the pan and add the sausage. Leave it alone for a bit. Let it brown up, sticking slightly to the pan, getting some good color. Grey meat = grody, so leave it undisturbed as much as possible to get a good little char on the outside. Then flip it over, and after it chars on the other side start breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Don't worry about what sticks to the pan, because guess what?

The wine wants some more action. Pour some in, scrape it up, let it get married.

Once the meat is done cooking, pour it in a side dish and reheat the pan. Again. Add a bit of olive oil and butter, and toss in the chopped-up breadsticks. Stir them around and get them good and crunchy. I had to drizzle more olive oil on them to accomplish the texture I wanted, so be not afraid of thy fats.

I kept the pork out the entire time I prepped the stuffing so it could come to room temperature - probably about an hour, considering pauses to sip my cocktail du jour.
Effervescent Blood Orange Italian Soda and Vodka. Yummy, light, fizzy goodness. Mr. Musky sipped his standard - Bombay Sapphire and water with a lemon twist. He kindly asked what he could do to help, so I sliced the pork tenderloin lengthwise down the middle, but not completely in half. Just enough to fold it open, butterfly style. I asked him to pound it out a bit, as it was pretty thick. I continued with the preparation of the stuffing ingredients.

His pounding resonated off the walls, nearly drowning out the Dave Matthews Band Radio on Muse. I turned to check out the ruckus, and saw this...
Homeboy took me literally. He pounded the meat with his fists. So I introduced him to a very handy kitchen tool. They became fast friends.

Finally, it was time to mix the stuffing. A great crowd assembled to cheer me on. I used all the vegetables, half the sausage, all of the breadcrumbs (broken up a bit), the egg and mixed it up.
Mr. Musky thoughtfully considered the Pizza Hut concoction, at the ready to provide his expert recommendation for additional ingredients.

He deemed it ready for the pork, so away I stuffed and rolled.
He helped me tie it up with kitchen twine, about every couple of inches. I seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, plopped it in a roasting rack and cooked it in a preheated 350 degree oven. MM monitored it with the iGrill app until it reached an internal temperature of 155 degrees, which took about an hour and fifteen minutes. Then we rested it, while sipping on some of my favorite - Paraduxx. A bit of an indulgence, but so, so worthy of a meal like this one.
Meanwhile, I cut up some cauliflower, drizzled it with some olive oil, sprinkled it with kosher salt and cracked pepper and roasted it at 500 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning a couple of times. After removing it from the oven, I shot it with a couple of squirts of truffle oil. Heavenly stuff. One of my favorite roasted vegetables.

And...wha-lah. Divine goodness.
The meat was juicy, succulent and wonderfully seasoned. The stuffing complemented it perfectly, with hints of freshness thanks to the sage and granny smith apple. And the breadsticks?

Genius secret ingredient. I may just be buying Pizza Hut again before my next holiday meal. Mr. Musky declared this dinner "Christmas Day worthy." You may want some guests over when you make this though - it makes a ton of food.

Unless your husband enjoys eating the same dish for lunch for six days in a row, like mine does. This one is that good.


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