Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Pan, 3 Components: Laziness Wins Again!


Photo by and (c)2008 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man).
So, the produce box! This time, in addition to yet another Delicata (which was the galvanizing force I required in order to address the four other Delicatas, and one Butternut, resting on the shelf by the open window in my kitchen ... all now roasted, thanks) and four nice fat leeks and a whole mess of citrus and apples and turnips, I got a bunch of spinach and a bunch of finger-sized carrots.
Neither bunch was big enough to form a reasonable side dish on its own, but both together served the purpose. What I did was bring out my trusty not-paella pan, heat some olive oil and butter, and throw in a nice big pork tenderloin. That browned on all sides over medium heat.
Then, the seasoning mix went on: a half-teaspoon each of
  • powdered ginger;
  • coriander;
  • allspice;
  • ancho chili; and
  • curry powder; plus
  • a generous dose of low-sodium soy sauce; plus
  • a splash of maple syrup; and
  • a little water to cover the bottom of the pan.
Then, in went the scrubbed carrots. They got rolled around in the spices a bit, a lid went on the pan, the heat was lowered to medium-low, and everyone got left alone for ten minutes. When the timer buzzed, I turned over the tenderloin, splashed some more seasoning on the carrots, put the lid back on, and gave it another eight minutes.
When the pork was done - the carrots now nicely fork-tender - I took everything out of the pan and set it aside. Into the pan went the (laboriously cleaned) spinach, and a good solid squirt of lemon juice. Tossed the leaves in all the pan juice and left them to wilt while I set the table.
When the spinach was done to my liking - probably about five minutes, tops - I divided it between two plates, divided the carrots likewise, and gave us each a chunk of pig on top of the greens.
This was a Success. Adding the lemon juice gave the spinach an acidic sweetness that was a great contrast to the spicy sweetness of the pork and carrots. It was also really pretty, quite a difference from my usual monochromatic plate: dark green spinach with browned meat and bright orange carrots - lovely. And of course, the more color your food has, the more nutrition it generally has. The only thing this was lacking was a little something crunchy, and I'm thinking some pine nuts would have been perfect.
I would not call this a recipe. It's just taking one set of seasonings and cooking two items, then cooking a third item in the same seasonings +1.
On that note: pork tenderloin is not a very flavorful meat according to most. That's because it's quite lean, and fat is where the flavor is! So whatever spices you use, pork tenderloin will act like mushrooms and take on primarily the flavor of that spice mix. It's cheap and easy to cook, and I like it.
Some people like to boil their greens, or steam them; I am not a big greens eater but when I do have 'em, I use fat. If it's raw greens, the fat is in the dressing (Caesar or blue cheese); if they're cooked, it's in pan juice or olive oil or butter.
One good reason for this is that many of the valuable nutrients in plant parts (roots, tubers, stems, and leaves) are metabolically accessible only in the presence of fat.
The other good reason is that they taste a damn sight better that way.
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Image Source: Wikipedia Photo by and (c)2008 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) and the Chanticleer Garden.

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