Category Archives: pork

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

chipotle pork tenderloinJPG

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

We made this spicy pork tenderloin in my last class of 2016 and it could very well be my favorite dish of last year. 

There are three species of cultivated chiles in ancient America, one of which was found in Mexico, wild, in cultural deposits in the Tehuacan valley dating from 7200 to 5200 BC. The use of chiles in the New World was not confined to food. Chile smoke was used as a fumigant, as a means of chemical warfare, and the Aztecs disciplined their children with it!

Christopher Columbus introduced chiles to Europe after his first trip to the Caribbean and called them peppers because he likened them to the peppercorns he was familiar with, though they are from a different family. Shortly thereafter they were cultivated around the globe and were quickly assimilated into the foods of other cultures, including those of Asia and the Middle East.

For the pork:
1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed

For the chipotle sauce:
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup apple juice
6 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons chipotle puree, or more to taste (I prefer La Morena brand, available at Ralph’s)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in middle of the oven.

Make the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown pork on all sides, about 6 minutes total, then transfer to a plate.

Sauté garlic in skillet until it starts to caramelize. Add the chipotle sauce, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Return the pork to the skillet and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145 to 150° F, about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Thinly slice the pork and pour the sauce over it.

Serves 6

Chicken and Ginger Dumplings


Chicken and Ginger Dumplings

Using flour to make dumplings followed noodles during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 CE) and by the 18th century dumplings were the rage in teahouses.

For the dumplings:
8 ounces ground chicken, shrimp or pork
2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
vegetable oil for pan-frying

1 package gyoza dumpling or thin won ton wrappers
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

For the dipping sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil

In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and water. Set aside.

Prepare the dipping sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir. Set aside.

Combine the ground meat, green onions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil in a bowl. Place about 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper.Dip your finger into the cornstarch mixture and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling and press the moistened edges to seal.

Place a large, nonstick skillet fitted with a lid over medium-high heat and add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, place the dumplings in a single layer in the pan; they should be close together but not touching. Depending on the size of the skillet, you may need to cook the dumplings in a few batches. Cook, uncovered, until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, carefully pour 1/4 cup water over the dumplings and immediately cover the pan with a lid and let the dumplings steam until the water has nearly evaporated and the dumplings have begun to fry in oil again, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve golden side up with the dipping sauce.

Makes 2 dozen

Salsa Macha

salsa macha

Salsa Macha

This salsa is from the state of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, a gateway for immigrants since the 16th century. In fact, this is where Hernan Cortes landed in 1519 and this is also where African slaves arrived in Mexico to work on sugar plantations, gold and silver mines, or to become domestic servants in Mexico City.

Africans introduced, among other foods, their native sesame seeds and peanuts, which are native to Brazil but brought into Mexico via African slave ships. 

Salsa Macha is a marriage of Mexican chiles with African sesame seeds and Spanish olive oil. True fusion cuisine, which is what Mexican food is. 

This sauce is amazing on eggs, steak, or just plain baguette. FYI: Macha is the feminine version of the word macho. If you’re a woman and you grow hairs on your chest after eating it, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

3 ounces combination of dried morita and guajillo chiles
2 1/2 cups olive oil
1/3 cup roasted and salted peanuts
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons roated sesame seeds
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons piloncillo or brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Stem the chilies, then break or cut them open and remove the seeds. Tear into pieces and set aside.

Set a saucepan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the garlic cloves. Stir and fry for one to two minutes, until they start to gain color.

Add the chiles, peanuts, and sesame seeds fry for about two minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool then carefully transfer all the contents from the saucepan into a blender.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, salt and brown sugar, then add to the blender. Process until everything is chopped into finely chopped, but not pureed. Pour into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about 3 cups

Adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table

Cochinita Pibil

cochinita pipil

Cochinita Pibil

A traditional slow-roasted dish from the Yucatan peninsula, Cochinita Pibil is a combination of Mayan and European influences. For many years, the Peninsula was isolated from the rest of Mexico but its ports were in constant exchange with Europe. This mix resulted in dishes such as this one which combines pork introduced from Spain with pre-Hispanic condiments and cooking techniques.

Traditionally cooked underground over hot stones (the word pibil is Mayan for “pit”), its main seasoning is achiote or annatto, a tree native to Central America and Mexico which was known for its therapeutic properties as an anti-inflammatory and healing agent. Its was used also used by the ancient Mayans as a dye for textiles and for body paint.

For the pork:
3 pounds pork butt
2 tablespoons seasoned achiote paste
1 cup bitter orange juice (you can substitute ½ cup orange juice and ½ cup lime juice)
5 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 large banana leaf, about 4 feet long

To make the marinate, mix the achiote paste with the bitter orange, oregano, salt and pepper and set aside.

Cut the pork into pieces and place in a large Ziploc bag or glass bowl. Pour the marinade over the meat, making sure it is all bathed. Add the chopped onion and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Prepare the banana leaf. Remove the center core from the banana leaf, rinse, dry, and cut the leaf into two 2-foot sections. Toast on a skillet and use the leaves to line a slow-cooker – lay one down the length, the other across the width.

Lay the meat and onions over the banana leaves and pour in the marinade. Fold up the banana leaves to cover everything, roughly encasing the meat. If it doesn’t encase the meat completely, add a few more leaves.

Place the lid on the slow-cooker, turn to low, and cook for 6 hours. (If you don’t have a slower-cooker, cook the meat in a Dutch oven at 300° F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.)

Remove from the meat from the slow cooker and shred. Place in a large serving dish. Spoon off any rendered fat from the juices and add 1 cup of sauce to the shredded meat. Mix well. Discard the onions and the banana leaves. Serve warm with corn tortillas and pickled red onion.

Though not entirely authentic, I love it with Pineapple Habanero Pico de Gallo, but leave out the red onion if you’re serving the pickled kind.

Here’s a quick and easy version for the pickled red onion (cebolla en escabeche):
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced

Whisk the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until the sugar and salt dissolve. Thinly slice the onion and place in a glass jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before refrigeration. Drain before serving.

Serves 6

Picture courtesy of my amazing cousin, Boni Carmona.