Spring Break in NYC and The Other White Meat: Pork Tenderloin

pork tenderloin whole foods dinner recipe

Pork Tenderloin Mise En Place

A good friend spent this past weekend in Vail – at this time of year some of the airlines fly directly from NYC to Vail – Puff Puff. Anyway, she texted me an overview of the scene at the airport: Moms and Dads on Blackberries, kids being tended to by nannies while waiting to board the plane. Yeah, it’s private school spring break in New York. Check your FaceBook or Instagram feed and you’ll see what I mean.

Sean Lowe the Bachelor pork tenderloin

Book Club…

For six months a year, on Monday nights, I have book club (read: The Bachelor Watching). My hosts cook a lovely dinner, we catch up on life and then spend two hours soaking in The Most Dramatic Season Ever.

On one such recent Monday, this UWS couple admitted to me that they were the ‘worst parents ever’. Why? Well, because, GASP! Their son’s spring break was rapidly approaching and they had nothing planned for him. To make it worse, their son is, indeed, in private school and is sure to be the only five-year-old to return after the hiatus without tales of skiing, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and all around hobnobbing with the rich and famous.

I tried to console them and ease their shame with the story of my own upbringing. OK…I went to private junior high school. There I said it. And, while other families were jetting off to Eleuthera (yes, I had to google the spelling on that) and Jackson Hole and Little Dix Bay, we stayed home. Sure, my mom might take us to the mall (aka The Stamford Town Center). But, for the most part, we spent the two weeks of vacation in the affordable comfort of our own home. And I turned out ok. (Zip it, this isn’t a question).

Staying home for spring break never bothered me. But there were other cost cutting measures that did make me feel different than my well-traveled classmates.

Growing up less fancy than some of my friends may be why I have always been a little prejudiced against cheaper meats…like pork: The Other White Meat.

Truth be told: I don’t like pork. Sure, I love bacon…but that’s not the pork I mean. I’ve never been a fan of the pork chop. It’s not the more interesting or expensive lamb chop. And, until three weeks ago I thought that I hated pork tenderloin…It’s not the fancy beef tenderloin after all.

But, at a recent ‘Book Club’ dinner, my gracious hosts prepared an amazing pork tenderloin that may, if you’re like me, change your mind about the other white meat.

Pork Tenderloin (serves 4)

Tiny apartment tips:

  • Always mise en place – IOW set up your ingredients and take a pretty picture
  • You always have to buy more fresh ginger than you need for any one recipe, so when you buy it, peel it, wrap it in Saran and then put it in a baggie and into the freezer. It’s easier to grate this way and lasts a long long time
  • You’re going to need a meat thermometer…OXO sells a small one that’s tiny apartment friendly. The face has a smaller diameter that fits nicely in a drawer

Ingredients:

  • A 1 – 1.25 lb Pork Tenderloin – I priced these at several UWS locations and found that the ones at Whole Foods are not only very competitively priced at $14.99/lb, but also the prettiest.
  • pork tenderloin asian flare whole foods

    Pretty Whole Foods Pork Tenderloin – but does sort of look like Alien

  • 3 TBSP Freshly Grated Ginger – I go heavy on ginger because I just love it
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Low-Sodium Soy Sauce…OK, I used the packets from a Shun Lee delivery
  • 3 TBSP Toasted Sesame Oil. Yes, there’s a difference between sesame oil and toasted sesame oil…it’s about $6 – but go for it.

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together creating an asian marinade

grated fresh ginger pork tenderloin recipe

LOTS of grated ginger

pork tenderloin marinade asian

My new tiny baby whisk from Sur La Table. LOVE

2. Unwrap the pork tenderloin and place in a ZipLoc baggie

3. Pour the marinade over the pork

pork tenderloin asian marinade

Marinating Pork Tenderloin – pre-fridge

4. Seal the bag and place the marinating pork into the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. I marinated about 5 hours…During the marinating process, flip the bag every hour or so to ensure the meat is evenly marinated.

whole foods pork tenderloin recipe food

Pork Tenderloin, Post 5 Hour Marinade

5. About :20 minutes before cooking, take the pork out of the fridge and temperate (bring to room temperature)

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

7. Place the pork tenderloin on a cookie sheet lined with Reynold’s Wrap and into the oven

OXO meat thermometer dinner pork food recipe

OXO

8. Roast for :25 – :30 minutes – until the meat thermometer reaches 145 degrees

9. Remove from the oven and place the pork on a cutting board and cover with tin foil

pork tenderloin asian marinade recipe food

Out of the Oven and Ready to Rest – still sorta looks like Alien

10. Allow the meat to rest for at least :10 minutes..the Pork will continue to cook during this resting period

11. Slice and serve

tender pork tenderloin recipe food dinner

Perfectly Roasted. A little pink is AOK

I gotta tell you, I was a lot skeptical about pork tenderloin. I was even a little nervous when my hosts told me they were serving it for dinner. But this was really good.

I’m not going to try to convince you that staying in NYC for spring break is the same as skiing in Val D’Isere. And, a trip to the Stamford Town Center in March may not be exactly as fabulous as a sun-soaked villa in Nevis.

But, don’t be ashamed of The Other White Meat. When done well, the super-tender asian marinated pork tenderloin can be just as satisfying as other much more expensive competing meats.

Killer Griller: Smoked & Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

baby back ribs smoking ribs city barbeque sauce

Finished Ribs with Smoke Ring (that’s the pink edge) and Sweet BBQ Sauce

New York is one of the biggest cities in the world…OK, like 38th, but that’s pretty big. Still, there are things you just can’t do here.

Like big meat grilling…I mean unless you have a big terrace, deck, back yard (ha!)…you just can’t outdoor grill. And, then there are those pesky laws about transporting gas tanks – like for a gas grill – through any of the tunnels or over any of the bridges. Uhm, this is an island, how am I supposed to transport my off-island bought gas tanks?

No worries…With any luck, we have all found friends and relatives with places outside of the city. In a perfect world, these generous people who open up their homes to us, have a grill. While I prefer a gas grill, no need to be picky…In many cases a charcoal grill is actually better.

On a recent trip to Cincinnati – remember, where my people live and cheerleaders date minors – I marveled as the grill master (aka, my brother) made some unbelievably good smoked and bbq baby back ribs using his old school charcoal Weber grill.

Tiny Apartment Tip: Make friends with homes off the island….

Hickory and Applewood Smoked Baby Back Ribs (serves 6)

Warning: This is an all day event….but, you’re in the country or at least out of the city, what else would you be doing?

Ingredients:

  • baby back ribs smoked barbeque kroger

    Kroger Baby Back Ribs – I think these were each over 3.25lbs – and very moist and tender

    2 giant packages of pork baby back ribs – 3.25 – 3.5 lbs each

  • city barbecue barbeque original sauce

    City Barbeque Original Sauce

    1 – 2 cups City Barbeque Original Barbeque Sauce

  • 2 TBSP Sea Salt
  • 2 TBSP Garlic Salt
  • 2 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 2 TBSP Onion Powder
  • 1 TBSP Paprika
  • 2 Meat Injectors worth of Bacon Grease  – just go with it
  • A Bunch of Hickory Chips
  • A Bunch of Applewood Chips

1. In a large bucket or pot or bowl or whatever, combine the wood chips, cover with water and soak for at least 2 hours…

dinner baby back smoked barbeque ribs

The Bucket Method for wood chip soaking

2. Remove the ribs from packaging and peel the membrane from the back side. This was a bit tricky because the membrane is slimy and tough to pull off…but, you can lift the edge of the membrane with a butter knife and then use a paper towel or rubber tongs to pull back the membrane

baby back ribs pull back membrane

Paper Towel Pull Back Method

3. In a bowl, combine the Sea Salt, Garlic Salt, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Onion Powder. We also threw in some Hickory Flavor Rub…

4. Rub the meat on both sides generously with the spicy mixture – my anal retentive brother puts his hands in plastic baggies and then rubs…but you can also just use your bare hands and, omg, wash them after – your call

Smoked grilled barbeque baby back ribs

Generously Season both sides…

5. And, this is pretty OTT…but, whatever…Using your meat injector (a tool only found in Sweeney Todd’s or Hannibal Lector’s collection…or the home of teenage boys who like science and bacon) Inject each rib with a good squirt of bacon fat…Yeah, that’s right, we injected pork fat into pork ribs…

meat injector bbq ribs

OTT Meat Injection: Bacon Fat into Pork. Yeah, we did that.

6. Wrap the ribs tightly in tin foil and put in the fridge – ideally overnight – but, at least 3 hours

dinner barbecue smoked baby back ribs

Wrap the Ribs tightly in Reynold’s Wrap

7. After the overnight dry rub fridging….Prepare your grill – this is a charcoal grill only event:

smoked barbecue barbeque baby back ribs

Indirect Heat…And, snow. Grilling knows no season (see no charcoal or wood chips in the middle)

  • Set the grill for indirect heat – that means the center of the grill basin doesn’t have any charcoal in it…but, instead, the charcoal is in two piles – one on either side of the grill basin. My brother used bricks to keep the charcoal piles contained to the side of the grill – he’s smart like that.
  • Get the charcoal going, then cover the charcoal with the wood chips and replace the grate
  • Cover the grill…and, yes, it’s going to smoke…a lot…that’s the point

8. Prepare your ribs for the smoking process…In my brother’s case this meant:

smoked bbq baby back ribs tools

Murderously Fabulous Grill Gloves and Rib Rack

  • Don some murderous looking grill gloves….these are like totally jacked up kitchen gloves – specifically designed to withstand great heat
  • Spray a rib rack (again, not a city accoutrement, but apparently quite the rage off the island) with non stick cooking spray
  • Place each rib in its own rack slot
  • Using a large skewer (preferably a wooden one that you’ve soaked for at least :30mins) pierce through the ends of each rack to elevate them
barbecue barbeque rib rack

Racked and Elevated Baby Back Ribs Smoker Ready (not murderous gloves)

9. Place the racked ribs on the grill and cover. Cook for 2 – 2.5 hours

baby back ribs in weber grill smoking

Smoker in the Snow…Ribs Racked and inside

10. Remove the ribs from the rib rack and place in a large, high sided pan. Preferably a tin foil one you can pitch afterwards…

11. Generously cover the ribs with Barbeque/Barbecue sauce – we used City Barbeque Original Sauce…pretty good

City Barbeque original sauce baby back ribs

BBQ Saucification of the Ribs. A family affair.

12. Preheat oven to 250 degrees

13. Cover the ribs with tin foil and put in the oven for 2 hours

14. After the low baking process…remove the ribs from the oven and from the pan…BUT, don’t eat yet! Nope, put the ribs on a cutting board and cover with tin foil for up to an hour to give the meat a chance to rest and re-juicify

15. Slice and serve

baby back smoked bbq pork ribs sliced

At Last….Slicified and Ready to Serve

The ribs were fall off the bone amazingly smoky, sweet and fabulous. Took all day…but, more than well worth it.

If you’re lucky enough to guest at the home of a Killer Griller…try this.

My brother and I have always been pretty competitive with one another – it’s a gene, I think. And, let’s just be honest, I’m the much better cook. That said…my brother is a Killer Griller.

Big Meats in The Cincy

Ohio exists somewhere in the middle – like between New York and Los Angeles. I know that because I am currently visiting Ohio where some of my people live.

I have learned a great deal during this visit…

1. A Ben-Gal is neither a tiger nor a football team. It’s a 26-year-old school teacher who allegedly had sex with an underage student

2. My niece and nephew need to be fed exactly when they are hungry. This can happen at any time without warning. Last night post-dinner and dessert I was ordered to make chocolate chip pancakes. Later, at 9:30pm, grilled cheese. I, of course, obliged.

3. The local seafood restaurant serves the ‘Catch of the Day’ that has arrived on a plane and was probably the catch of yesterday or the day before.

4. The theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati is stuck in my head – it began playing the moment I landed (oddly in Kentucky where the Cincinnati airport is?!) and will most likely not cease playing until I touch down in New York

5. I don’t know if there actually is a station called WKRP here – because my sister-in-law’s minivan only has Satellite radio – that how she rolls. In a minivan with satellite radio…I can open the rear side doors remotely!

6. My People like to make big meats.

7. I might actually like ‘The Other White Meat’

The other night for dinner, my brother prepared a 5lb Pork Loin. We decided upon Pork Loin because that’s what was on sale at the local Kroger. I was skeptical…It was delicious

Here’s what he did

1. Generously, season a large, at least 5lbs…the bigger the better…Pork Loin with Old Bay Seasoning, Bacon Salt, Garlic Salt (always Garlic Salt), Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

2. Cover and leave in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours

3. About :30mins before grilling, remove the loin from the refrigerator and allow it to temporate. For those who don’t know…Temporate is a word brilliantly coined by a friend’s mother meaning bring to room temperature

4. Prepare charcoal grill for INDIRECT HEAT at approximately 375 degrees. Use medium chunks of applewood and hickory over the coals to create smoke…chunks need to be soaked for at least :30 minutes prior to putting on coals.) Put the meat in a rack over a pan and place 1/2 onion chopped, 2 smashed cloves of garlic and 1 1/2 cups of white wine in the base of the pan.

NOTE: The wine, onion, garlic and pork drippings will simmer under the meat during the smoking process – discard after cooking.

5. Place the Spice Rubbed Pork Loin in smoker pan on the grill, cover the grill and leave it alone for about 1 1/4 hours. It will smoke a good deal. Check occasionally – but you want the internal temperature to be 135 degrees before removing from the grill

NOTE: The USDA dropped the safe cooking temperature for Pork to 145 degrees in May of 2011. And, the Pork Loin will continue to cook even after its removed from the heat source.

6. Once the Pork has reached 135 degrees, remove it from the grill and let it rest, wrapped in aluminum foil for :25 minutes

7. Slice and serve

I have said many times that I don’t like pork. But, changing my mind is my thing….And, this pork was delicious!

The giant meat option is generally the opposite of my approach…But, there’s a lot more space in Ohio than in my apartment. And there are more people here to enjoy it. Thanks to my brother for opening my eyes to the marvels of the other white meat.

Now if I could just get that song out my head……”I’m at WKRP in Cincinnati….Cincinnati WKRP….”