Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Chutney

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a sure way to improve any kind of roast is to wrap it in bacon. It adds flavor and juiciness and at the end of cooking you can fling that bacon in a pan to crisp it and eat it beside the roast. Still, even wrapped in bacon, pork tenderloin tends towards dryness if it isn’t properly dressed. So in the recipe below I recommend slitting open the pork loin, stuffing it with cherry chutney, and then wrapping it in bacon before tying it all together with kitchen twine.

As for the chutney, well I find cherry season to be almost an embarrassment of riches: are you saying I get to eat all of those, and for how much! Ye gods. Cherry chutney is really a most marvelous condiment and it gets better over a couple of days as the flavors combine, so I recommend making it a day or two before the pork loin.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

(Serves 2)

1 lb boneless pork tenderloin

4 strips bacon

1 cup cherry chutney

Salt and pepper

Cooking fat

Kitchen twine

1.)   Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry and season pork and brown in a skillet in cooking fat (preferably lard) all over.

2.)   Slice open tenderloin and create a large cavity. Fill it with chutney. Wrap bacon strips around tenderloin and tie it tight with kitchen twine. Season a touch more and pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees.

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Cherry Chutney

(Adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

4 cups cherries, pitted and chopped

1-teaspoon whole allspice berries

½ Vidalia onion, chopped

¼ cup white vinegar

1-teaspoon garlic, minced

¼ cup brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick.

1.)   Tie cinnamon stick and allspice in a cheesecloth wrapped in kitchen twine, creating a bouquet garni.

2.)   Combine cherries, onion, vinegar, garlic, salt and bouquet garni in a pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil hard, stirring frequently for twenty minutes. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Reduce heat and boil for twenty more minutes.

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3.)   Remove from heat and discard spice bag.

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Rainy Day Barbecued Chicken

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Barbecued chicken always reminds me of my childhood. Gulping down sweet chemical mouthfuls of Country Time lemonade while my father peered over a plate of half cooked barbecued chicken, poking it to check its state of doneness. So maybe the food was secondary back then: the barbecue sauce came from a plastic bottle and the salad was iceberg lettuce and mealy tomatoes. But we’d all gather on the porch of our country place, sitting around a citronella candle, and we’d eat and drink and talk until the fireflies came out and us kids would run out into the fields to play manhunt. Later on, coming home before bedtime, the parents would all still be gathered on the porch drinking Genesee beer, smoking Marlboros, and telling dirty jokes. I’d put on my pajamas and come back out in bare feet to read a Stephen King or  Lloyd Alexander novel with my feet up on the porch rail. Relishing my closeness to and apartness from the adults who’d remained. Bedtime would follow, preceded by the maternal application of Aloe Vera on mosquito bites. I’d fall asleep with dirty feet and leaves in my hair—itchy, but extremely content.

Those summers are long past, but barbecued chicken continues to produce a strong sense memory in me. Whenever I taste those sugars caramelized on crispy chicken skin, I’m back up in the Catskills with the fireflies. Lately, with the weather getting hotter and hotter, I’ve been craving that chicken. But alas, it’s been rainy the last few weeks and opportunities for barbecued dinners have been few and far between. So I finally got fed up and made some oven “barbecue” chicken. Despite the lack of an open fire, it turned out to be the best barbecued chicken I’d ever had. Probably in part due to the homemade ketchup I used in the sauce. I served it with duck fat fried potatoes and a fresh green salad.

Oven Barbecued Chicken

8 chicken pieces

½ cup ketchup

1-tablespoon harissa

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/3-cup cider vinegar

3 tablespoons mustard

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1.)   Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2.)   Simmer ketchup, harissa, garlic, vinegar, mustard, and brown sugar together until reduced by about half.

3.)   Dry chicken. Season and toss with oil. Coat with half barbecue sauce and place in oven for twenty minutes.

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4.)   Turn over and coat with the other half of the barbecue sauce and cook for another twenty minutes until done.

5.)   Place in broiler five to ten minutes per side for crispy, caramelized skin.

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Pilgrimage to Santiago

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the...

Español: Tarta de Santiago

It was my mother’s birthday recently, and she being someone who enjoys the trappings of religion but is very much of the “Lord make me good, but not yet,” ‘I intend to die a Catholic, though I never could live as one” school of thought, I thought I’d make her a pseudo-Catholic birthday cake. The Tarta de Santiago is a flourless cake make of egg yolks and almonds that’s given to pilgrims who have walked the Way of St. James, the pilgrimage across the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. I’m not sure why you’d want almond cake after hiking hundreds of miles. I did a walking tour of the Ridgeway in southern England a few years ago, and after hiking twenty miles I’d have said fuck the cake, unless it’s heroin cake, in which case stick it straight into my veins. In any case, the Tarta de Santiago is a really good cake. It’s fluffy and moist and it makes your house smell like heaven while it’s baking. Traditionally, a cut-out of the St. James cross is placed on the cake and the cake is then dusted with powdered sugar and the cut-out removed. This I did not do. Much as I love authenticity, I’ve never been one for arts and crafts.

I served it with a saffron coconut ice cream. A very adult tasting ice cream, and by adult I mean it tastes pretty damned weird. Far from sweet, it’s borderline savory. Its complexity makes you pause and think about the nature of existence between bites. It is philosophical ice cream. It’s extremely good, of course, but its profundity and sophistication may make you long for the Rocky Road of your childhood.

Tarta de Santiago

(Adapted from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden)

1 ¾ cups almond flour

6 eggs, separated at room temperature

1 ¼ cups superfine sugar

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon

¼ teaspoon almond extract

Confectioners’ sugar

1.) Beat together eggs yolks with sugar until you create a smooth, creamy mixture. Beat in zests and extract. Add almond flour and mix.

2.) In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold into egg and almond mixture and mix together until fully integrated (this will take some doing as the mixture will be thick.)

3.) Grease and flour an 11-inch springform pan. Pour in batter and bake for 40 minutes to an hour, or until the cake feels firm. Allow to cool before removing sides of pan. Dust with Confectioners’ sugar before serving.

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Saffron Coconut Ice Cream

(Adapted from David Lebovitz)

While I realize saffron is pretty expensive stuff and this recipe calls for a full half teaspoon and not the usual scanty pinch, honestly how often do you use the stuff? My saffron goes untouched for months at a time. It was a relief to dump the whole thing in a pot of cream. Remember, saffron isn’t good at sticking to the ice cream so when transferring it between containers, you may have to spend a few persnickety minutes dabbing at the threads that have stuck to the sides of the pan and transferring them one by one. An irritating job, but believe me this ice cream is worth it.

This recipe also calls for palm sugar. My local green grocer happened to have some. It’s brown and crumbly and tastes, well, coconutty. I made a ginger lemon iced tea the other week and sweetened it with a simple syrup made from palm sugar and it was amazing.

2/3-cup heavy cream.

1-cup coconut milk

¼ cup palm sugar

½ teaspoon saffron threads

1.)   Bring all ingredients to boil in a saucepan. Simmer ten minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove from heat and chill at least 3 hours.

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2.)   Chill in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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Photo Credits: Wikipedia.