Pork Tenderloin Wellington, a reasonable alternative...

Many of you have most likely heard of Beef Wellington; however, how about getting Pork in on the action? Presenting Pork Wellington, with all the elegance and savoriness of its richer cousin, but at a fraction of the cost. This dish has not been costed, but it easily comes in a less than $25.00 for 6 servings. Consider Pork tenderloin at $5.00 per pound vs. Beef tenderloin at $25.00 per pound! The rest of the ingredients are much the same cost for each. And presentation is no less impressive to your guests! If you've got a bit of time, try this. It's well worth it. Without further ado, let's get started.

2   1.5 lb Pork Tenderloins
2   Puff pastry sheets
8   Slices of Prosciutto Ham (or Serrano), sliced thin
1   Egg (for your egg wash)

The filling:

12 medium sized white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 oz. of Foie Gras (you can also use a non coarse smooth pate)
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 to 4 tablespoons of fine toasted bread crumbs
1/4 cup of parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 tablespoon of Brandy (pref. Apple)
4 tablespoons of olive oil

What is important when preparing a dish that calls for envelopment in a pastry shell is to semi cook the meat you will use, followed by a cooling period so that juices are set and will not run during the final stage of baking. With that in mind, let's prepare the pork tenderloin.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 (180c). Remove your tenderloin roasts from the package and cut about 4 inches off the tapered end of each roast. Save those ends, as we will use them in a future recipe. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Make sure your skillet is not so big that it won't fit in the oven. Pat dry the meat so that it won't splatter while cooking. Lightly salt and pepper all sides, then brown for about 5 minutes total. Remove pan from heat and transfer to the oven. Lay a sheet of foil over the pan so meat doesn't splatter in the oven. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Following that, remove from oven and pan, set meat in a dish and allow to completely cool, which should take an hour or so. Do not place in your fridge as this should cool to room temperature. Do not discard the pan drippings, as you will use this for your filling.

While meat is cooling, you should now prepare the filling that will go around your roasts. Make sure all your prep work is completed as per the list above. Pour any excess pan drippings from the pan you cooked the pork into a bowl and set aside. Now add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for a minute or so, stirring with a wooden spatula. Next, add the garlic and continue to saute for another minute. Add the mushrooms and stir.

Continue to cook, adding a bit more olive oil if needed. Turn heat down slightly if you need to at this point. Saute for another couple of minutes and then add the wine and Brandy, along with the bread crumbs. Stir well so that bottom of pan is well deglazed. If you find you need to, add a few tablespoons of water. Finally, add the pan drippings you had set aside and stir well so everything is completely mixed. Transfer to a food processor.

In the food processor, add the Foie Gras, 2 pinches of salt, cracked pepper, Dijon, parsley, Worcestershire Sauce, and pulse mix until a rough paste has been achieved. Taste for proper seasoning, adding a bit more salt if you need. You should need to add anything more to this, as it should be perfectly seasoned. Remember, the slices of ham will add salt to your dish, so be careful. Set aside and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

While cooling, you can now prepare your slices of ham. Take a sheet of plastic wrap and lay it out on a cutting board. Next, lay out 4 slices of ham onto the board lengthwise, allowing the slices to overlap approximately 1/2 inch. Using half of your paste mixture, use a frosting spatula and spread it evenly over the ham. It should spread very nicely. Now add one of the cooled pork roasts on one end and carefully begin to roll it, using the end of the plastic wrap to push the roast along. It goes without saying at this time to be sure NOT to roll the plastic wrap into the roast... LOL. When completely rolled, the roast should be covered with the plastic. Holding each end of the plastic wrap firmly, roll the roast along the cutting board so that it seals it completely. Repeat the whole process with the second roast. Once done, transfer to your fridge and allow to set for about an hour or two.

While meat is in the fridge, remove the puff pastry sheets from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature. This should take about 2 hours. Once pastry is thawed, remove meat from the fridge and allow 30 minutes to warm to room temperature. Lightly brush your cutting board with a tablespoon of flour and lay out your first pastry sheet. Carefully stretch out the sheet with your hands and fingers. Don't use a rolling pin please, it's not needed. Simply stretch the sheet out an inch on all sides, that's all.

Preheat your oven to 425. Remove the plastic wrap from the first roast and place in the middle of the pastry sheet. Lightly brush some of the egg wash around the ends of the sheet and then fold the end closest to you over the roast. Roll the roast until it reaches the other end. Fold the left and right ends in, making sure all the seams and well sealed, using additional egg wash if needed. Set in a non stick baking pan, seam side down. Brush the top and sides with egg wash and with a sharp knife, make several slits on the top to allow steam to escape. Repeat this process for the second roast. Then set the second roast along side the other, making sure they are at least 1 inch apart.

Transfer dish to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until pastry is golden medium brown. Remove from oven and allow to set for about 15 minutes before serving. You may use the pan drippings to make a nice green peppercorn sauce, using a bit of olive oil and butter, a few tablespoons of Port wine, salt and pepper. It's your choice. I have found it very simple to just purchase a package of the Knorr Green Peppercorn Sauce mix and be done with it. This dish marries perfectly with a side of baby French green beans and a small serving of potatoes puree. Just remember however, the starch is in the pastry shell, so don't overdo it. Enjoy this preparation, it's absolutely mouth watering. Yes, it is a bit involved and takes time to prepare; however, there is nothing complicated that should keep you from attempting it. You won't regret it and neither will your dinner guests. This preparation will serve 4 to 6 .

Keep it Steelhead simple...

In an effort to maintaining the goals set forth by this blog from its onset, that is to demonstrating how simplicity in the kitchen can produce wonderful dishes and recipes, we are launching the "Keep it simple" series. Throughout its duration, simple yet savory recipes will be presented from time to time. These recipes will stand out from the rest in that the ingredients will be few and from preparation to presentation will be less than 30 minutes.

From personal experience, it's so important now days that with our busy and hectic schedules, we can come home and put an eye appealing and mouth watering dinner together in a minimal amount of time, whether it's dinner for one or party of 4. Not everyone has the time to spend shopping for exotic herbs and ingredients, then come home and spend several hours preparing the dish. And yet, we want to eat healthy, fresh, and flavorful ingredients, not the ones you grab out of the freezer and punch 3 minutes on the microwave dial. This series will make every attempt to achieve the success of simplicity.

As our first dish of the series, it's appropriate to present fish, an often times intimidating food item that can present itself with challenges on how to cook it as well as how to season. Beyond that, what side dishes will pair well with it besides steamed rice (yawn). Steelhead Trout (salmon) is a wonderful solid flesh fish that opens up many possibilities; however, this recipe is so simple that it will take less than 20 minutes from start to finish. Apart from having to go to the store to purchase a fresh filet, the ingredients can all be found within the confines of your pantry. As far as pairing a side dish, why not simply boil some baby Yukon Golds or Red potatoes (Baby Yukons, butter, and parsley)  and serve them tossed with butter and parsley? How simple is that?

1 1/2 lb fresh fillet of Steelhead Trout (also called Steelhead Salmon)
1 lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon
1 pinch of dried basil
salt and pepper
parsley for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400F (200C)

For those of you that are not keen on the rich flavor of Salmon, you may want to try Steelhead. It is a more delicate flavored fish with a much lighter pink color. Be sure to purchase a fresh fillet with the skin still intact on one color. 1 1/2 pounds will serve 4 people comfortably.

Grease a long baking dish with olive oil or butter. Rinse the fillet over cold water but do NOT pat it dry. The remaining water on the fish will help to cook it and remain moist. Place fillet, skin side down, on the baking dish. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and sprinkle the juice over the fillet. Now sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then the salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Slice the lemon and place the slices around the fish.

Bake at 400 for approximately 12 minutes. The fish should have a little give when you push a finger down on it, but it should not be hard to the touch. Remove from oven and let set for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, take your baby potatoes and slice them in halves. Place them in a deep bowl, along with chopped parsley, butter, and salt and pepper. Stir to melt the butter. Dinner is now set. All this took less than 30 minutes and you didn't have to make a long shopping list. How cool is that ??!!