Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tangy Tomatillo Pork

It's been two weeks since my last post - now how did that happen? I could list some recent distractions, things like house guests, Happy Hours, walks in the park, online classes, etc. The truth is that I've filled my time with things other than inspired cooking or photography. That's life - busy, fun and frequently spontaneous. I can relate to a John Lennon quote, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." 

Most recently an online CreativeLive Lightroom Workshop has kept me tethered to the computer, challenging my brain with all manner of things photographic. For three days, from 9 a.m. till 4 p .m., I have focused intently on images, keystrokes and commands, shortcuts, process and workflow... until my stomach growled, grumbled and finally roared, sending me to the kitchen to grab a quick snack. It's amazing how often you can graze and nibble  without actually cooking anything. 

I finally turned to the refrigerator and freezer, hoping to find something easy, already prepared, ready to reheat or even defrost. Instead I spied a chunk of fresh pork tenderloin, a frozen tub of already-roasted tomatillos, a bunch of cilantro, several green onions and a partial carton of sour cream. Not a bad start, these ingredients were familiar basics, almost all I needed for a  simplified version of Tomatillo-Braised Pork Loin, a favorite Rick Bayless' recipe. (link) I worried briefly that the tomatillo sauce would be flat without the usual roasted poblanos, but that proved to be a non-issue. Adding a dollop of tomatillo sauce sour cream to the dish was a tasty finishing touch, a substitute perhaps for those missing peppers. 

There's something about March that leads me to tangy or spicy pork dishes In 2010 it was Chili Verde, in 2011 it was Pork with Poblano Peppers, and now here's Tangy Tomatillo Pork. Is it Mexican March Madness? No, I think it's more like a lot of good Mexican-influenced cooking year 'round. 

Tangy Tomatillo Pork
Serves 2-3

1 pork loin
salt and pepper
canola oil or olive oil
8 to 10 tomatillos, roasted
1 bunch cilantro 
3 or 4 green onions, sliced (or 1/4 cup chopped yellow onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (optional)
chicken broth or water, as needed
sour cream
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the husked and cleaned tomatillos on it stem side up. Broil the tomatillos until blistered on top; turn over and broil to blister the rounded bottoms. Transfer the tomatillos and any juices to a blender. Add the cilantro, stems and leaves, to the blender and whiz until thoroughly pureed. ( Or use an immersion stick blender.) Set aside 2 to 3 tablespoons to mix with sour cream for a topping.
  2. Dry the meat and season well with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork until browned on all sides, but don't cook it through. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the onions and garlic (if using) to the pan and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatillo cilantro mixture to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until darkened and thickened slightly.
  4. Place the meat in the pan, turning to coat with the sauce, and reduce the heat so the sauce is barely bubbling. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 15 minutes. Turn over and continue cooking covered for another 15 minutes, or until the meat reaches 145 F or barely pink inside. Add chicken broth as needed/if needed to thin the sauce and keep it from scorching while the pork cooks.
  5. Rest the meat for a few minutes, then slice and serve over a puddle of sauce. Top with a dollop of tomatillo-sauced sour cream.

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