Thursday, February 11, 2010

Herb-Roasted Pork Loin over Chorizo & Tomato Sauce Pasta

Here is a family meal that is not only yummy-licious but very hearty as well. I am usually an advocate of meals that can be made in 30 minutes or less but I just had to make an exception here due to an exciting idea for a pasta dish that took root when I came across pork tenderloins that were on sale at my local grocery store. It takes about an hour or so to prepare and cook but I assure you, the end result will totally be worth all the effort. Besides, Valentine's Day is just around the corner and this will be a great dish to impress your sweetie with.

There are three components to this dish: the pasta, the sauce and the pork tenderloin. I usually start off by preparing the pasta before anything else. Get a pot of salted water going on the stove. While waiting for the water to come to a rolling boil, get the pork tenderloin prepped. If there is a layer of fat on the pork, you have the choice of removing all or only part of it. My advice is to leave some of the fat on the piece of loin in order to have it slowly melt away while roasting, which acts like a natural baster for the pork and helps keep the meat moist. Here are the ingredients that I used to coat the pork tenderloin:

Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Garlic and onion powder
Paprika (plus a little cayenne pepper if you like a little heat)
Dried thyme and oregano flakes
Coriander powder

Rub the olive oil all over and liberally salt and pepper the entire tenderloin. Next, coat it with the rest of the ingredients, making sure you cover all sides of the meat. It is now ready to go into the oven (pre-heated to 400F) uncovered. Depending on the size and thickness of the tenderloin, you might be looking at between 45 minutes to an hour of roasting time.

Okay, at this time, the salted water must be boiling away in the pot. So let's start cooking the pasta (it can be either linguine or spaghetti). As usual, all pasta should be cook until al dente, removing it from the pot and cooling it under running cold water just before it is cooked all the way, leaving just a little firmness as you bite into it. Pour some oil over the pasta and mix it well as you set it aside to cool down. This will prevent the pasta from sticking to each other.

Let's now move on to making perhaps the most important component of this dish: the chorizo and tomato sauce. I am using the Spanish pork sausage, chorizo as a way to enhance the flavor of the sauce. The heavily spiced chorizo imparts a distinct smokiness and a little bit of heat that is just a wonderful taste to behold. Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make the sauce:

2 medium cans of whole peeled tomatoes.
4 cloves of garlic (crushed, not minced)
1/2 an onion (julienned)
3 tablespoons white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay)
Chorizo (15 - 20 slices)
4 - 5 fresh Basil leaves (or 2 teaspoons of dried basil, whichever's readily available)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium sized pot, start off by sweating the onions in olive oil until it becomes soft. Add the garlic and chorizo and continue cooking for another 2 - 3 minutes or so. Deglaze the pot by adding the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pot to get the bits and pieces of chorizo that's been left behind. Now, add the tomatoes and all the herbs. Crush the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and stir the pot well, finally bringing the heat down to a simmer. Continue simmering the pot and let all the ingredients cook slowly. If the sauce becomes too thick too quickly, add some water and continue cooking some more. Finish it by seasoning with salt and pepper. Remember to remove the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme when the sauce is done.

Oh, there is still one more secret ingredient that will be sure to bring the sauce into a whole new dimension. You will notice some jus left behind on the pan where you roasted the pork tenderloin. Adding this jus to the sauce will not only incorporate incredible flavors into it, nothing else will come close!

Now you are ready to assemble the dish. Heat up the pasta in the microwave and plate it. Next up is the sauce. Spoon a liberal amount of it onto the top of the pasta and sprinkle it with a mix of grated mozarella and parmesan cheeses. Slice the herb-roasted pork tenderloin and lay them on the plate leaning up against the pasta. Finally, garnish with chopped scallions.

Bon Appétit!

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