Since I started blogging almost a year ago, I've discovered a whole world of food writers and talented home cooks. I stumbled across Melissa's blog, Alosha's Kitchen after she posted a rant about Cook's County (a sibling of Cooks Illustrated).
Melissa just started cooking a few years ago, and I've enjoyed reading about her adventures in the kitchen and how she's developed her own "voice" -- learning how to take other people's recipes and make them her own.
And I've been drawing inspiration from her recipes. Most recently, she posted a recipe for mustard and tarragon rubbed chicken with braised leeks. Everything about this sounded delicious... but as I started to organize myself, I began imprinting my own style on the recipe.
First, I used pork instead of chicken. I decided to serve the bread crumbs on the side so they'd stay crispy. And I opted to cooked the leeks separately in butter so that I could better time the individual components. Since the final dish looked a little drab, color-wise, I fried the only thing that had color in my pantry: carrots. I cut them into threads, dusted them with corn starch and fried them with parsley leaves in canola oil [[ the colors are still a bit drab, but they had a wonderful textural contrast to the rest of the dish]]. Here's Melissa's recipe.
This is what I did:
1 pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon each: scallions, parsley tarragon
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoon butter
3 leeks, white and light green parts, washed and diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 small shallot, peeled and finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup chicken stock
Marinate pork with herbs, spices and olive oil for at least one hour or over night.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet. Add leeks. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the leeks are soft and start to brown. About 15 minutes.
In another skillet, melt remaining butter over medium high heat. Add garlic. When garlic starts to brown add bread crumbs. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until bread crumbs begin to toast. Add parsley and cook for 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
Turn oven to 400F. Heat an oven-proof skillet over high heat. Remove pork from marinade and pat dry. Add oil to pan and then pork. Sear on both sides, about 5 minutes. Put in the oven and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes depending on the degree of doneness you desire
Remove pork from pan and let rest. To the pork pan, drain off any excess fat and add shallots. Deglaze the pan with white wine and reduce by half. Add mustard, tarragon, honey and chicken stock and continue cooking until sauce is thick and reduced by half. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
That week, I also craved a steak and cheese sub after reading this post. I ended up making burgers with roasted peppers instead. As simple and delicious as these were, it was so far out of my normal cooking habits (I rarely roast peppers) and I thank Melissa for inspiring another delicious dinner.