R & I have basically been eating vegetarian for a while now–not really as a matter of principle, but just to try to get ourselves into healthier eating habits.  But with our farm share coming up, and with a bunch of meats sitting in our freezer needing to be used, we’ve celebrated the end of the school year with a quasi-return to the carnivorous world.

While house-sitting for a friend, we saw this episode of the Food Network’s “Good Eats” show, featuring a stuffed pork chop.  We’ve had a pork tenderloin sitting in the freezer for some time, so we decided to give the recipe a whirl.

We’ll certainly make these both again, but with a few changes.  I wouldn’t season the loin before searing next time, and I’d probably reduce the brining time from overnight to just a few hours.  Also, I’d make sure we had tressing string on hand, instead of having to sew the loin closed with needle & thread. For the potatoes, again, I’d cut down on both the salt and the garlic.

First, the tenderloin:

Ingredients:

Large ziploc bag
1 pork tenderloin, unmarinated
1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 cups cider vinegar, heated
1 pound ice cubes
1 1/2 cups cornbread, crumbled — I just used 2 store-bought corn muffins
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cherries, halved — These are ridiculously expensive, so I bought dried cranberries instead.
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh sage, thinly sliced — I cut this to 1.5 tsp, because sage tends to overpower things.
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Procedure

In a plastic container put the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and mustard powder. Add the hot vinegar and swirl to dissolve. Let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes to develop flavor. Add ice cubes and shake to melt most of the ice. Add chops and cover with brine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (we let it go overnight).

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Remove tenderloin from container and rinse.  Then brush the pork with some oil, and add salt and pepper if you’d like, although the brining will likely make it plenty salty already.  Heat some oil in a pan on high heat, then sear each side of the tenderloin (it should take about a minute).  This should lock the moisture in.  When all four sides are seared, remove the loin from heat and into a second oven-safe dish.

Cut a horizontal pocket into the tenderloin, taking care not to cut all the way through. Combine rest of ingredients, and put into a large (at least a quart) ziploc bag.  Twist the stuffing into one corner, using a rubber band to keep the mixture there.  Then snip off the corner of the bag and you have yourself a piping bag! Pipe the stuffing into the pocket, then close the pocket either with some cooking string, or (if you find yourself without) just use a needle and thread to close it up!  Cook for about 20-25 minutes at 450 degrees.

And now, the Garlic Mashed Potatoes, also adapted from Good Eats:

Ingredients

1 pound potatoes
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I got overzealous and put in 3)
2/3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 ounces grated Parmesan

Procedure:

Dice potatoes, leaving the peels on and making sure all are relatively the same size. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.Combine buttermilk and garlic.  You could try heating it, but it’s going to take more attention than it’s probably worth–just combine them cold…it’ll heat up later.

Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water. Mash and add the garlic-buttermilk mixture, salt, and Parmesan; stir to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.

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