Friday, November 19, 2010

Any guy can do this - Pork and pavée

To begin, I tip my hat off to Chef Jason again.

As a trained Cordon Blue and experienced chef, he was able to write out excellent instructions that a regular guy, and girl I guess, could follow and make a delicious meal that would make anyone proud to serve to friends. And that, to me, is what food is about.

I'm not going to take you through my 'usual' walk in this blog. This time, I've asked Jason permission to reprint the recipe and steps for all the elements of the meal. I've also added notes from both of us.

Jason specifically said that cooking the pork "sous vide" would be easy and a process that could be applied to other foods. After the one experience I've had, I completely agree with its simplicity and great flavors.

I also can't say enough about the port sauce and potato pavée.

Please enjoy the experience with me.


Pork with sweet potato and Yukon gold pavée with candied walnuts
by Chef Jason Laurin, Essence Catering (Sticky Fingers blog)

1 lb pork tenderloin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Port sauce
1 orange
1/2 cup reduced chicken stock
1/2 cup Port
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 dried figs
1 tbsp butter (very cold)
salt and pepper to taste
1 fig per person
Sweet potato and Yukon gold pavée
2 sweet potatoes
2 large Yukon gold potatoes
2 cups 35% cream
2 cloves garlic minced
Grated Parmesan, approximately 1/4 cup.
Thyme leaves 2 tbsp or so
Salt and pepper
Candied walnuts
1 cup walnuts
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp water

The pork preparation

Remove any silver skin from the pork and trim up the tail part so the meat is roughly the same dimension all around.

At medium setting, heat one tablespoon of olive oil and butter in a pan large enough for the pork. Sear the pork on all sides until nicely browned – about three to four minutes. Chef Jason note: careful to not burn; roll with tongs to get color even all over. Place pork on a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Rub honey, salt and pepper, cinnamon all over. Personal note: it should have been evident to me to rub honey first then rub on the dry ingredients – very important two-step process. Allow to cool completely.

The pork after searing, before seasoning.
After allowing the pork to cool completely, place it on 18-inch square piece of plastic wrap. The wrap can be doubled to achieve the size. Start wrapping up and over with the pork placed at the lower half of the sheet. Press plastic very tightly against the meat. Trying to avoid any air pockets and tie off the ends if needed. You can tie the plastic directly or use some string. Refrigerate overnight.

Fill a large pot with hot water from the tap. Temperature should be close to 120F – 140F. You want to experiment with your stove to find a burner that allows the water to stay at 135F – 145F. Practice with the temperature setting for a while until you can keep it at 140F or so for an extended time.

Take pork, which has been in the refrigerator overnight, and place in a Ziploc freezer bag. Roll the bag up, releasing as much air as possible. A straw can help you to suck out as much air as possible from the bag. Use rubber bands to secure the bag. The key is to not get any liquid in direct contact with the pork. Personal note: I used a vacuum-seal appliance for this purpose. Two bonuses: it worked very well; and, I got to play with my toy.

The pork beginning its sous vide process.
Submerge the pork in the water for the sous vide cooking. Twirl it around every now and again. The pork can stay in the pot for an hour and half. Chef Jason note: Time is somewhat irrelevant after an hour. As the water is no higher than 145F the meat cannot cook anymore than that. The joy here is that after the hour or so, you can turn the heat off and leave the pork in the water. It will stay warm depending on pot size for up to two hours. Personal note: I found the pork not quite pink enough for our liking. I would have timed it so that the pork was in the water between an hour and 75 minutes.

The port sauce

Take half the zest from the orange, making sure to remove as much pith as possible. Place the zest in a sauce pot with all other ingredients except butter and salt/pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for 30 minutes or so until reduced to a sauce. Personal note: this is an extremely good sauce that I would use for any meat.

Sweet potato and Yukon gold pavée with candied walnut

In a baking pan roughly 8 x 8, grease or spray the bottom and sides. Cut a piece of parchment to cover the bottom and spray or grease this as well.

Peel the  potatoes and slice on a mandolin as thin as possible. Place all of them in a metal bowl with the cream. Mix all around to get the potatoes well-coated. Lay them out one level at a time making sure the cover the entire layer of the pan. Sprinkle with cheese and thyme every other layer, and season with salt and pepper on alternating levels. Try to get six or so levels done. Top with cheese and thyme, salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Personal note: I forgot to add the minced garlic, but added too much ground pepper. Nonetheless, it was very good.

Bake at 400F for roughly one hour – a toothpick inserted should meet no resistance. Once you let cool, turn it out and cut individual portions. Personal note: too funny – I just noticed I was supposed to turn it out! But, we did cut them in nice hockey-puck size portions.

Candied walnuts
Roast the walnuts slightly and cool.

Cook the sugar in a pan with water on medium heat until a nice light amber color.

Prepare a pan with a silpat or parchment paper and place the walnuts on top. Pour the cooked sugar over nuts and cook at 350F for about five minutes. Let the candied walnuts cool and break into smaller pieces. Take a small handful at service and pulverize in a mortar and pestle to a rough powder. Sprinkle on top of the potato pavée at plating and dust the plate.

Personal note: this makes too much, but it's great to snack on late at night.

Overall timing

Personal note: I found that timing was quite important for this meal as you had three elements to combine -- four if you count the broccoli. The easiest is the candied walnuts. You can pretty do these at any time, so do fret here. The pork and potato pavée are a different story. The potato pavée cooks for an hour, then another 20 minutes just before serving. The pork, not counting the day-before prep work, cooks for about 75 to 90 minutes.
Et voilà!


Pork: Take the pork out of the water, remove bag and plastic wrap and cut in medallions - preferably three per person. On a big tenderloin you should have plenty for four or two really hungry people. Personal note: we served three portions and had leftovers for two.

Sauce: Swirl the butter into the sauce until it has emulsified. Spoon sauce around the meat and plate. Place the quartered figs and orange segments around the plate for the final touch.

Potato pavée: Just before serving, reheat the potato pavée at 350F for about 20 minutes and finish off under the broiler if the top isn't brown.

Serve this dish with Swiss chard, but any cooking green would be great. Personal note: we used broccoli because that’s what we had.