God I’m bored.
If you’ve been made aware of the current situation that is my life, you know I’m unable to work right now, which means most of my day is spent eating, digesting until I can eat again, reading baby books, nagging spouse to read said books, and doing half-assed workouts to maintain some level of normalcy, which is hilarious when you consider I can no longer use my abs and have to roll my way off the exercise mat/couch/lets be honest bed like an aging seal and hope to hell I don’t piss myself in the process. Also the whole allure of going out to dinner has been snatched away from me due to going all Weekend at Bernie’s post 8pm, or alternatively turning into Linda Blair in the exorcist whenever I’m around drunkenly happy people who like to grope my belly and give me unasked for/unwarranted pregnancy advice like, “Omigod eat spicy food and he’ll, like, totally come out!” Plus, I’m a complete egomaniac and feel quite strongly that I can replicate whatever dish we’re having in a restaurant at home for much cheaper and conveniently while wearing sweatpants and watching The Voice.
One of my go-to’s has always been risotto, because it seems fancy but it’s totally easy to make, as long as you don’t mind having to stand in the kitchen and pay attention for half an hour. Even fancier is adding a puree of some sort, which for some reason really blows people’s minds but is fool-proof, I swear. Throw in a perfectly cooked piece of pork tenderloin and who needs reservations? Or abs, for that matter?
Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Risotto and Carrot Puree
1 pork tenderloin, around 1 1/2 lbs
1/2 tsp each chopped rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder (or one fresh clove minced), paprika, salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp for the risotto
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 quart of chicken broth or stock, plus another 1/2 cup for the carrot puree
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium sized yellow onion, sliced
1 large minced garlic clove
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
fresh thyme, a good handful of sprigs
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup of white wine (if you are pregnant like me and don’t have any on hand because it’s cruel when you can’t drink it, you can omit this entirely and just use an extra 1/2 cup of chicken broth or stock)
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Prep the carrots. In a bowl, season the carrots with salt and pepper and about 3 sprigs worth of the thyme leaves. The best way to get the leaves off the stem is to hold the stem and pull the leaves back with your fingers– they fall right off, and no chopping necessary! Use that knife for other purposes, like when people ask you when kid #2 is coming when you haven’t even spat out kid #1! Drizzle with a tbsp of olive oil and place on a baking sheet in an even layer. Put the carrots in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes until soft. Place in a blender with 2 tbsp of butter, some more salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup of chicken broth or stock and pulse until smooth. Check for seasoning to see if it needs any more salt and pepper. Keep warm in a pan over low heat while you cook everything else. If you want to get crazy, a drizzle of truffle oil in there is damn good, too. I’m also obsessed with any sort of mushroom salt or seasoning, and I seem to be putting it in everything which amps up the umami flavour and make it a little special, so if you find some, try it in your purees, in your soups, on steak or chicken, in stirfrys, you name it. It’s awesome.
Prep the pork by carefully removing the silver skin on it, which is tough when cooked and you don’t really want to eat it. Line a baking sheet with some foil. Sprinkle the rosemary, garlic powder or clove, onion powder, salt and pepper over the pork with a drizzle of olive oil and massage into it so it’s fully coated. Cook the pork for 25 minutes at 425F, and be sure to rest it when it comes out of the oven for ten minutes before slicing so the juices have time to redistribute.
While the pork is working, start the risotto. Keep the chicken stock in a sauce pot over low heat so you can add warm stock to the risotto as you go. Next, heat a large deep skillet over medium-high with the remaining olive oil and the remaining butter. Dice the onion and sautee it with the mushrooms and garlic clove until everything is nice and soft. Season with salt and pepper once the mushrooms have had time to brown, about 5 minutes– seasoning after they’ve cooked a bit keeps them from tasting rubbery. Next, add the arborio rice and let it toast in the pan for a few minutes. Deglaze everything with the wine (or 1/2 cup of stock), scraping up all the delicious brown bits at the bottom of the pan, until the rice has sucked up the liquid. Now comes the tedious part: add a ladle-full of broth or stock to the pan, stirring until it’s absorbed, one ladle at a time until all of the stock is gone. This takes patience, meaning don’t add any more liquid until the first bit has been soaked up by the rice. 20 minutes later, this will result in a thick and creamy risotto. Taste it once the stock is all gone and if it has too much bite to it still, add a little bit of water and continue until it’s a bit softer/al dente. Risottos have a mind of their own, so no biggie if it decides it isn’t done yet. That’s what extra liquid is for! Peel the leaves off the remaining thyme sprigs and add to the risotto near the end. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese, then taste for seasoning to see if it needs another hit of salt and pepper.
*note that there are green beans in the picture, because we needed to use them up so I roasted them alongside the pork for the last ten minutes with a little olive oil, a chopped anchovy fillet, and salt and pepper, but you can choose to ignore this completely. Your choice to bean or no bean.
To serve, ladle some carrot puree in a shallow dish. Top with some risotto. Slice the pork on an angle and fan across the risotto all fancy-style. Eat it in your sweatpants, it tastes better that way.