Monday, January 18, 2010

Mom's Birthday Dinner

It wasn't planned. I didn't sit poring over cookbooks for hours coming up with a menu. It just all came together as I was cooking. I was at my parents house in New Jersey and while sitting at the breakfast table at our favorite local diner after church, we were chatting about what to make for dinner. We stopped at the A&P on our way home and picked up pork tenderloins, new potatoes and fennel. What ended up on the table was quite possibly one of my most favorite meals I have ever put together.

It started with the potatoes. They were large so I quartered them before adding them to a pan with a large sliced yellow onion, sliced fennel (and also chopped up some of the fennel fronds for additional flavor), a load of chopped garlic, two apples cut to approximately the same size at the potatoes, and a good amount of chopped fresh parsley. I tossed all of it with salt, pepper and olive oil and set it to roast in a 400 degree oven.

Meanwhile, I cleaned up the pork tenderloins of their remaining silver skin, gave it a rub with a little extra virgin olive oil and a good sprinkle of salt and fresh cracked pepper. I seared it in a screaming hot oven safe pan and let it form a beautiful brown crust on all sides. While the pork browned, I prepared a mixture of crushed garlic, lots of fresh chopped parsley, spicy brown mustard, a touch of real maple syrup and a few slugs of olive oil. When the pork was brown all over I removed it from the pan and gave it a good slathering with the mix and then patted panko over the top for a crust. Into the oven (now up to 425 degrees) until the internal temperature reaches around 150 degrees. Make sure you allow the pork to rest for 5-10 minutes when it comes out of the oven before slicing.

While the pork and the potatoes were in the oven, I cleaned up a bunch of carrots that Mom had in the fridge and cut them into 2" pieces. A tablespoon of butter and olive oil went into a saute pan and then in went the carrots for just a quick saute. Then about 1/2 cup of water and cover (over mediumish heat - how's that for accurate measurements) for about 7 minutes. Remove the lid and let most of the water evaporate. Add 5-6 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and bring to a fast and furious bubble. Toss the carrots in the vinegar mixture and add another pat (or two) of butter to form a glaze.

If you time it right (or get really lucky like I did) everything will be finished at the exact same moment and what you bring to the table will be piping hot and the aroma will have your mouth watering. Mustard crusted pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes, apples and fennel and cider vinegar glazed carrots made for a great meal on a cold Sunday evening!

****Food is something that many of us take for granted. It occured to me both while I was cooking this meal and writing this blog post that while I sit in the comfort of my home, millions are starving in the streets after the earthquake in Haiti. I would encourage you to take a moment and make a donation to an organization like American Jewish World Service, Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee or Partners in Health to help provide aid where it is so needed. For those of you who prefer the ease of a text message, you can text "AJWS" to 25383 and make a $10 donation to American Jewish World Service's Rapid Relif Fund for Haiti. Remember, there but for the grace of God go we. Thank you.*****

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