Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ted's Fiery BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Simple (Cheese) Grits

Before we ventured off to Maine last week for a long weekend I decided I wanted a good Southern meal (plus I was trying to clear meat out of the freezer and the pork tenderloin was just begging to be used).  And what could be more Southern than BBQ and cheese grits?  Granted, this isn't a particularly traditional BBQ recipe.  Plus, as the Lee Bros. cookbook admits, calling it BBQ wouldn't fly with a lot of BBQ purists because this pork tenderloin is not smoked or grilled - it is pan-seared and then roasted.  But that's ok because authentic BBQ or not, it's still Southern to me.  And when you add in cheese grits, you have a Southern feast.  

What I liked about this meal was that it was really different.  The pork was spicy and sweet, plus it was nice and juicy.  The pork itself was really good - I would make it again.  As for the sauce, I didn't love the flavor of the BBQ sauce, but I thought it was really interesting.  And I think the pork needed some sauce (or maybe a glaze of some sort).  It had nice flavor, it was just a little muddy tasting for me.  Muddy isn't exactly the right adjective, but I'm not really sure what is.  None of the flavors really shined for me - they weren't distinct, but they didn't exactly combine in a way that highlighted the ingredients.  As for the cheese grits, I actually liked Ina Garten's Creamy Cheddar Grits better than these cheese grits.  I thought those grits were both creamier and cheesier, and I missed the freshness of the scallions.  Part of the problem this time was that the grits were much more coarsely ground than I am used to so it almost felt gritty - perhaps if we had cooked them slightly longer it would have been better texturally.  But I think I still would have preferred the taste of the Creamy Cheddar Grits more...

Recipe after the jump!

Ted's Fiery BBQ Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
By Matt and Ted Lee

2/3 cup bourbon
2/3 cup water
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, blistered in a hot skillet or on a grill, and minced (you want a pretty spicy jalapeno for this recipe - alternatively use a serrano or use a seeded habanero)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 1 1/4 lb pork tenderloins (if you have smaller tenderloins you can make less marinade accordingly)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil, plus more for brushing

In a shallow bowl, combine the bourbon, water, vinegar, ginger, chile, and garlic. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the pork from the marinade; brush off any excess and pat dry. In a small saucepan, boil the marinade over high heat until reduced by one third, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the sorghum molasses and ketchup and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Brush the tenderloins lightly with oil and season them with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sear the pork over high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the barbecue sauce over the pork and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast for about 12-14 minutes, or until cooked through, turning the meat in the sauce. Transfer the pork to a work surface, cover with aluminum foil, and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

To serve, thickly slice the meat across the grain and serve with any remaining sauce.

Simple (Cheese) GritsLee Bros. Southern Cookbook
By Matt and Ted Lee 

2 cup whole Milk
2 cup water
1 cup stone-ground grits
3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Pour the milk and water into a 2 quart saucepan, cover, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the milk mixture boils (about 5 minutes), uncover the pot, add the grits and salt, and reduce the heat to medium. Stir constantly until the grits are the consistency of this soup and release a fragrant sweet-corn perfume, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, about about 20 minutes, until the grits thicken and fall lazily from the end of the spoon. Cook about 15 minutes more, stirring constantly to prevent the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

When the grits are creamy and fluffy and soft, turn off the heat, add the pepper and butter, and stir to incorporate. Add cheese. Stir to incorporate (and to melt the cheese into the grits). Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desire.

Serve immediately.

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