Sunday, March 08, 2009

Garlic potatoes and pork tenderloin...

With eight new recipes flowing from the kitchen this week, it was a tough choice to decide what were the favorites... I let Jeff choose this time and he picked those tangy Lemon-Lime Bars, the birthday Coffee Pecan Meringue Cake and those Roasted-Garlic Pierogi with Shallot-Browned Butter

Basic mashed potatoes are often seen as a side on our plates - tender boiled russets, a splash of milk and a couple pats of butter, mashed with a potato masher and seasoned heavily with salt and fresh ground black pepper are the norm. Mashers were on the menu tonight too... though we made them a bit more swanky with a recipe for Roasted-Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Before I started hacking at the buttery Yukon Golds we were going to be using, we sliced the tips off a couple heads of garlic, drizzled them with oil and wrapped the heads in foil. Since we were going to be using the oven anyway to cook the main portion of tonight's meal, I went ahead and snuck the packet in there to roast. However, I typically just bake them in our convection toaster oven so it doesn't use much juice. When the garlic was close to being done, we made sure the potatoes were just coming to a boil to cook them through.

One of the best tips I've ever used for mashed potatoes is to make sure you toss them back into the hot pot and stir them around for a minute once you've drained them. Besides keeping them warm, it allows any of the excess liquid to quickly evaporate off, making sure potatoes remain light and ready to soak in the milk and butter. We used warmed milk to get the potatoes groovin' in the pot, but for a special occasion, toss in some half-and-half or even cream if you are feeling especially naughty. Or, if you've already been a bit too naughty and need them to be not as rich, use a combo of half milk and half stock or broth.

Those heads of garlic that produced such sweet, caramelized and mellow cloves from roasting are given a good squeeze to extract the pulp and are smashed into the mix when you pour in your liquid of choice. If my stomach wouldn't fill up so darn much, I probably would have been able to eat the whole pot of these mashers myself! Although, Jeff loves potatoes as much as I do, so I'd have to fight him for it. We like using our handy potato masher most to prepare potatoes in this fashion as we don't mind, and even prefer, a bit of texture to them. If you can't stand lumps though (and believe me when I say I was a picky eater in my youth because growing up I wouldn't go NEAR lumpy mashed potatoes!), you could certainly pass them through a ricer or food mill to get an extra silkiness to them.

To go with those potatoes, I also prepared this Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard. Let there be no doubt about it... while mustard sounds like an afterthought in this dish, it definitely plays the main role!

We placed whole mustard seeds, fennel seeds and a pinch of crushed red pepper into our heavy mortar and used the pestle to crush and crack the seeds. While you do want to open them, don't take out your aggression too much on the seeds - keep them on the coarse side so you know exactly what you are getting when you serve the pork.

After scattering those spices on a large baking sheet, two lean pork tenderloins were placed on top and rolled around to thoroughly encrust them. Cook your pork as far as you need to feel comfortable, but I don't take ours much past 140 to 145 degrees. After letting the tenderloins rest for at least 10 minutes, giving their juices a chance to redistribute back though the meat, we sliced them to reveal their juicy insides that retained a light pink hue to the center.

To play off that mustard in the crust, we set the sliced tenderloin into a speckled saucy pool of homemade honey mustard that was combined from grainy Dijon mustard, traditional Dijon and a couple generous spoonfuls from our jar of honey. Tangy with a spicy bite and a kiss of sweetness, the sauce was a delightfully bright pairing to the tender meat. Pungent and strong, Jeff and I did leave some of the sauce behind on our plates - a little went a long way on the pork and we felt if we coated a piece too much, the delicate meat seemed to loose its weight and fall behind to the background.


  1. I love mashed potatoes. That a nice pairing with the pork. Looks good.

  2. Your potatoes look good enough to be served in a steakhouse! I like a little texture in mine as well.

  3. Helene - we agreed that they worked well together.

    Kerstin - Thanks!