Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I am nothing if not open to suggestion, so when Teri told me to brine the Mark Bittman Twice Cooked Pork Tenderloin and Luisa told me to try Paula Wolfert's Knife and Fork Kale, I said, sure, sounds like dinner. And Paula Wolferts' Slow Mediterranean Kitchen has been one of those cookbooks I bought and then never really used, so I was especially glad to drag it out.

I am not sure if lacinata kale is just much better than regular kale or if it was Paula Wolfert's method (although due to what I think is a typo in the book, I stewed the kale in 1/4 cup of olive oil instead of 2 tablespoons, which did not seem to hurt it at all), but this kale was SO MUCH better than my first attempt at cooking kale. I think stripping out the stems before cooking helped enormously, but whatever it was, this is clearly the way to prepare kale. It was yummy and didn't even need to be served on toasts, although the toasts didn't hurt. (Jeff had second helpings sans toast, even.)

And the tenderloin! I wound up not brining it, because I didn't have enough kosher salt, but I did use Judy Rodger's lazy person's seasoning technique for the pork- I took it out, set it on a plate, and then liberally rained most of what kosher salt I did have all over it before covering it with plastic and returning it to the fridge overnight. (I can sense Judy Rodgers, of the "stop, think, there must be a harder way" motto, somewhere cringing at any of her techniques being described as the lazy man's anything, but it is the lazy person's alternative to brining. She also often does not cover her meats with plastic wrap but I imagine that is because her refrigerator has no other food in it but maybe some Meyer lemons, so she can leave hunks of meat in it uncovered to develop a crust that doesn't smell of refrigerator.) And that technique worked brilliantly on the tenderloin- it was far more tender than the last one I made.

I also totally ditched Mark Bittman's sauce for a standard pan sauce- shallots cooked in the leftover cooking fat, then deglazed with some cider and a splash of cider vinegar, and once it reduced I whisked in some butter. I hate to criticize Mark Bittman, because he is obviously usually right about everything, but I would put my sauce, which was almost apple-jammy in consistency and hit just the right sweet-tart note against the pork, up against his sauce any day of the week.


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