A few weeks ago, a friend of mine had a dinner party that she’d won from Williams-Sonoma and Calphalon. Ali’s not a food blogger, just a mom like me who enjoys entertaining. Well, when she heard about the contest, she applied and she won. She got two Calphalon Unison nonstick pans, some Calphalon cooking utensils (one of which I now own) and $100 to buy all the food she’d need for the party. Dinner was to be a pork tenderloin and heirloom tomato salad. Then for dessert we had lemon ricotta blinis topped with raspberry sorbet.
But there was a second part to the contest. Since she’d won the dinner party, Williams-Sonoma sent her a notice about another contest – she could be in the running to have Michael Symon cook dinner for her and her guests. She applied and she won. So not only did I get a great dinner with friends from a celebrity chef, I also got a cooking lesson.
Here’s what I learned:
- If you’re using salt to cook you should only use either sea salt or Kosher salt. That iodized salt that’s on everyone’s shelf was great back in the day when people had iodine deficiencies. But in this day and age we’re no longer deficient, so it’s time to upgrade.
- Warm the pans before you start using them. This was news to me. See, I always thought if you put a pan on a hot burner with nothing in it, you’d burn the pan. But according to Chef Symon, the pans in every restaurant kitchen, including his, are always hot. That way whatever you’re making cooks more evenly, and the pans will be easier to clean after you’re done using them.
- Never use boxed stocks. They have tons of salt in them, even the low sodium versions. If you don’t happen to have any chicken stock in the fridge or freezer, just take a little of the meat or veggie you’re using and boil it in some water for a few minutes – there’s your stock. You still have the flavor of whatever you’re making but without all the added salt and preservatives.
- But I’d have to say the biggest lesson I learned (which I kinda already knew) was that salt and fat are good for you! These two things are what bring flavor to our dishes and yet today they’re the two biggest no-nos. When you grill a burger, a lot of that fat is burned off by the fire. But while it’s dripping off the meat, it’s leaving behind a ton of flavor. According to Chef Symon, if you’re going to buy ground beef, you should get nothing less than 30% fat. I know, I’m as shocked as you are. I usually get 10-15%.
So bearing those few things in mind, I decided to take what I had learned and try to recreate the marinated pork from Ali’s dinner party for my husband and son. While I don’t have the Calphalon pans that Ali and Chef Symon used (mine are All-Clad), everything else I did was the same. The good news is, it turned out quite yummy. The bad news, I was the one cooking it this time… well, maybe that’s not such bad news after all.
Marinated Pork Tenderloin
2 pounds of pork tenderloin
- 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp. coriander seed, toasted
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seed, toasted
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- Zest and juice of 3 limes
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 shallots, minced
Cut the pork into 2 inch-thick medallions. Whisk together the coriander, cumin, lime zest, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, garlic and shallots. Pour over the pork and chill for 2-6 hours, turning over once.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Preheat pan (whatever brand happens to be your favorite) over medium heat. Pour 2 Tbsp. of olive oil into the pan and heat. Remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the marinade for the sauce. Sear the pork in the olive oil for 3 minutes per side. Once the pork is seared transfer it to an oven safe dish and heat for another 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare medallions. Remove the pan from the oven and place the pork on a platter.
Sauce for Pork
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Add marinade, chicken stock, vinegar and honey to a pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to sim and let the sauce simmer until it’s reduced about a 1/3. Whisk in the cup of olive oil and pour over the pork.
Note:When I had this meal at Ali’s it was served as a warm pork and heirloom tomato salad with the sauce used as the dressing. Since I’ve never been a big fan of warm salads, I ladled the sauce over the pork and kept my tomato salad cold. The benefit in doing it this way was I had enough sauce left over, that once refrigerated, can be used as a delicious dressing for future salads.