Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 3: Pan Fried Pork Tenderloin

Well, I said it would be more complicated, I didn't promise it would be a lot more complicated.  Today's dish is a breaded and pan fried pork tenderloin (technically two, but only one vacuum pack of it.)  This meal (as all pork tenderloin preparations should) started last night with a brine.  I kind of know how this is supposed to work, but have never actually made one before so it was a bit of an experiment (if not a very complicated one).  I combined salt, sugar, brown sugar, rosemary, all spice and a bit of cayenne pepper in a pot with a bunch of water and heated it until everything dissolved and mixed together.  It was here that I learned my first of what is certain to be many lessons.  Even if it feels fairly cool, dump tons of ice into your brine.  I didn't put enough ice in and as a result very very slightly cooked the outer edge of my tenderloins.  Thankfully I realized it quickly and just dumped a ton of extra ice into the brining bag before any permanent damage was done.  The mixture went into the fridge for about a day (ok, actually like 20 hours, but close enough).

That brings us to part two of today's story, the actual cooking.  I sliced the tenderloin into very thick steaks (about an inch to an inch and a half thick) and got out one of the fun tools of the kitchen.  The hammer.  I pounded out the steaks until they were closer to 3/4 to 1/2 an inch (depending on how thick they started) and set them to the side while I made my breading.  The breading was equally simple, seasoned flour, an egg wash, and a mixture of panko and italian bread crumbs.  The flour was all purpose flour with paprika, cayenne, an italian herb mixture, some salt and some pepper.  The pork pieces got a dredge in flour, a dunk in egg, and then a quick roll through the bread crumbs before being set aside to await the fire. 

Unfortunately this is the point where the meal takes a turn down boring street.  I could have done all kinds of wonderful vegetables and sides with the pork, but instead of thinking about and planning it out I spent the day building my new computer (more on that at the end).  The sides that I did go with consisted of some very quickly and lightly steamed broccoli and standard noodles.  The prep for both of these got done as the oil heated up and the pork went into the pan.  As I mentioned before, I had two tenderloins to cook up, and I don't have a pan nearly large enough to do all of those at once, so they went in as groups of three to four.  Each side got to feel the burn until golden brown(ish) before a flip, another wait and then a trip into the oven set to 200 degrees while they awaited their final fate.  They wound up looking a little something like this going in (we're going to pretend that one on the left isn't there, he got a bit too much sun):

  As I finished up the pork it was time for the pasta to hit the water and the greens to take a quick trip to the sauna.  I was nearly done, but at the last minute decided that pan fried pork needs a gravy, even if its a simple one.  I grabbed some of the seasoned flour I still had and tossed it into the oil and started stirring away on my roux.  After giving it enough time to actually cook I mixed in some extra garlic and onion powder, some mustard and a heavy splash of apple cider vinegar to finish it off.  I let some of the vinegar smell and taste boil off while the gravy thickened and started plating.  The overall result was a success I think.  The pork was quick good, and the sides finished out the meal, although they certainly weren't anything worth really talking about.  Day three down, only 362 more to go.  Fair warning, this weekend I'll be out of town so you'll probably get your first restaurant meal reviews from me instead of Paul's cooking process.

I think I've decided that even when I don't actually have one I'm going to include a recipe or at least list of ingredients at the bottom of these.  I tend to fly a little bit by the seat of my pants in the kitchen and rarely have anything close to a recipe so a lot of this is from memory and I make no promises that you will be able to replicate anything I make.  Honestly, I'm not sure I could replicate anything I make, at least not exactly.

And with that, I'm pretty much done, and my brand new gaming rig has finished the fresh windows install.  Time to begin the great driver hunt and then time steam to see how long it takes to download most of my library of games. 

The Brine:
1 Vacu-packed pork tenderloin
Brown Sugar
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Water (its an ingredient right?)

The Breading:
Flour (all purpose or pretty much anything really)
Cayenne Pepper
Italian Herb mixture (I finished my pre-made mixture so I promise to be more precise when I go to make my own batch)
2 eggs
a splash of milk (whole is best I've found)
Panko bread crumbs
Italian bread crumbs

Flour mixture from breading
Mustard (whole grain is best, the closer you can get to it the better)
Apple cider vinegar
extra onion powder
extra garlic powder


Steam (which is like water right?)

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