I had a blast in the kitchen yesterday. Michael and I stopped by Boyd Orchard in Versailes yesterday afternoon and picked up Red Delicious apples and a gallon of fresh pressed apple cider.
My preparation for dinner turned into an apple party. After rubbing a gorgeous pork tenderloin with olive oil, salt, cracked pepper, and minced garlic, I wrapped it in plastic wrap to marinate in the refigerator for several hours.
Any opportunity to use my french mandoline is a happy opportunity, so I pulled it out of storage and thinly sliced an apple to make apples chips. After carefully slicing the apples into paper thin rings, I simmered them in simple syrup for a few minutes, placed them on a non-stick Sil Pat, and baked them in a low 250 degree oven until browned and crisp. I sprinkled them with fleur de sel and set them aside to cool.
I continued the party by slicing an additional apple, sweet onion, and garlic clove before sauteeing them with fresh thyme in a butter olive oil combination until just softened, but not broken down. Savory apples.
I needed to round out the apple-ness with something a bit more earthy, so I clipped the prickly tips off of a fresh artichoke, peeled the outer skin off of the stem base, sliced it in half, and placed the halves cut side down in a butter garlic lemon enhanced chicken stock, covered, to simmer for an hour. On a whim I threw in a quartered window sill tomato to cook and break down along with the artichoke halves. After an hour on a gentle simmer, I pulled the braised artichoke halves off of the heat to cool.
At that point, I had pork tenderloin on deck marinating, crisp candied apple chips, sauteed savory sliced apples, and braised artichoke halves.
I wanted more.
I decided to stuff the artichokes with a fresh diced apple bread crumb stuffing. Easy. It took a whole minute to whip together. I melted butter with salt and pepper and tossed it with panko bread crumbs until it resembled a crumble topping. After scooping the choke from the center of the artichoke halves, I folded the tiny diced apples into the bread crumb mixture and mounded the stuffing into the artichoke cavaties before sliding them into the oven to heat through without browning. I wanted the apples to stay crisp and fresh.
After heating a skillet until it smoked, I gently placed the pork tenderloin into the skillet to brown. I'm talking really brown. Dark brown. Major flavor comes from good browning with perfectly seal-in meat juices.
I slid the smoking skillet pork into the oven to cook for 45 minutes.
Midway through the pork roasting, I pulled the heated artichokes out to rest while the tenderloin finished cooking.
After the pork reached an internal tempertaure of 145, I pulled it out, tented it, and let it rest to redistribute the juices. While it rested, I brought more apple flavor to the table. Using the pork jus as a base, I tossed in 2 tablespoons of flour, forming a light roux. Once the butter and flour combined into thickening roux, I added 1 1/2 cups of fresh pressed apple cider, salt, pepper, a 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, creating a thin, almost transparent, pan sauce.
I plated the artichokes, spooned the sauteed apples with onions onto our plates, topped the apples with fanned out pork tenderloin slices and a generous swath of apple cider pan sauce.
The candied apple chips garnished our plates along with scattered whole fresh parsley leaves.
The pork was incredibly juicy and tender with bold in-your-face salty garlic roughness. The outer crunchy highly seasoned exterior gave way to buttery meat draped with a salty sweet apple cider cloak. It was gutteral joy. Eating and moaning. The savory pan sauce hinted of apple flavor with soft sweet acidic apple undertones while the underlying bed of savory sauteed onions asserted fresh still firm apple-ness. The addition of apple cider vinegar to the pan sauce perked up and brightened what could have been a cloyingly sweet sauce. Great balance. Soft, tangy, salty, sweet, and savory.
The apple chips provided crisp sweet apple crunch and were particularly fabulous swiped through the pan sauce.
The artichokes were welcome respite from the apple assault. They were earthy and deep. Calming.
It was deeply complex and wonderful with a variety of apple textures and flavors. The pork was crazy and the pan gravy drinkable.
I wandered into the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning for my nightly sleep eat, sat down in front of the refrigerator, ripped off a nub of leftover pork, ate it, and chased it with a glug of cold apple cider pan gravy.