Thursday, July 10, 2008

Leftovers made new again

Americans have always had a bigger is better affinity that I can't quite get behind, but I must say when Jeff dragged me to Costco the other day, it was kind of fun. Mostly, I love samples of food and Costco is all about some samples - pancakes, lobster dip, you name it! Aside from gorging myself on random sample sized treats (anything bite sized is low cal, don't you know), I also scored some great deals on this week's groceries. So what was I to do with 4 pounds of pork loin?

I can sometimes spend an hour searching for just the right recipe online. I'm like the Goldilocks of cooking - this one is too time consuming, that one has too many ingredients... I had in mind something fruity as my previous pork loin success revolved around a strawberry glaze, but Jeff had other things in mind. He none too subtly kicked me off the computer and found a dish he wanted to try - a roast loin of pork from Silver Spoon, an Italian cookbook akin to Joy of Cooking. It was indeed very easy to make and required very few ingredients that I didn't already have on hand. My kind of recipe!

So the pork was easy enough to make as were the canellini beans, which I added pancetta to for a little bacony goodness. Jeff rebelled against my carb nazi ways and also insisted on new potatoes. Alas, we miscalculated on that because everything on the plate was beige and there wasn't good contrast among the dishes. If I had it to do again carrots or green beans would have been a better match taste-wise, and would have at least made for a more aesthetically pleasing dish. Mostly, though, the whole thing was boring. Everything tasted good but nothing was exciting. There was no eyes closed savoring, "Oh dear lord this is delish" moment. Mental note: do not let hungry boyfriend rush my recipe search in the future!

So with 2 pounds of the pork frozen and leftovers from the first somewhat dull pork dish, I had to find some way to jazz the pork up. I turned to Robyn Miller from Food Network's Quick Fix Meals for the answer. Her Chili Seared Pork with Pineapple Salsa was designed for leftovers, so it was perfect.

Now that I'm feeling a bit more comfortable with my cooking, I like to try to change things up here and there just to feel like I'm using my brain a bit. Since peaches are in season and plentiful in Georgia, I changed those out for the pineapple and used the heirloom tomatoes I had on hand instead of the beef steak tomatoes. I also added extra lime juice for the acidity lost by eliminating pineapple. The salsa was so juicy, sweet, and just a tiny bit spicy. Next time I might add jalapeno to kick things up a notch.

Adapted from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals:
3 diced fresh peaches
1/2 a large heirloom tomato diced
1 lime's worth of fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and grains of paridise (like black pepper but with a bit of a cardamom flavor)
2 teaspoons olive oil

Mix together ingredients and let sit while preparing the pork.

For the pork:
8 (1/2-inch) slices leftover cooked pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon chili powder

Lightly coat the pieces of pork and quickly sear them on both sides until lightly browned. Top with salsa.

Funny that in the end, this leftover pork dish was far more palate pleasing than the original venture. The chili added some much needed depth to the pork flavors and the salsa made every bit more interesting. Best of all, the whole thing took under 30 minutes, which is a miracle in my book. Even recipes that are billed as 30 minutes or less usually take me an hour!



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