Author Cree LeFavour loves to dive into single subject cookbooks. She took on beef in 2008 (The New Steak: Recipes for a Range of Cuts plus Savory Sides), poultry in 2011 (Poulet: More Than 50 Remarkable Recipes That Exalt the Honest Chicken), and fish in 2013 (Fish: 54 Seafood Feasts).
by Cree LeFavour
Photographs © 2014 by Antonis Achilleos
And now LeFavour is back with Pork: More than 50 Heavenly Meals that Celebrate the Glory of Pig, Delicious Pig.
Michael Ruhlman is quoted as saying “the single-subject cookbook is potentially the most important type of cookbook published”. Potentially is the operative word. Ruhlman’s Charcuterie is brilliant but there are single subject cookbooks where the author is so desperate for additional recipes, what could have been an informative book morphs into a bizarre stretch.
LeFavour’s Pork is indeed informative as it begins with a 12-page tutorial: buying, primal cuts, keeping it safe, and methods of cooking. The recipes take us on tour with chapters headed American, Bistro (old world Europe), Latin, Chinese and Japanese, plus South and Southeast Asian.
Each chapter begins with a suggested (regional) drink and her thoughts on dessert. But pork is the star and for each pork recipe, recipes for appropriate accompaniments follow, such as “Gremolata Shoulder Steaks, Caramelized Fennel, Sweet Peppers” or “Meatball Banh Mi, Carrot-Daikon Pickles, Carrot-Sesame Slaw” or “Brined Rib Roast, Porcini Beluga Lentils, Watercress Salad.”
Aside: When a book is published with a mix of fonts, I generally find it annoying. I don’t know if it’s to set a casual style or if they just couldn’t decide on one. The good news is that it doesn’t affect the quality of the recipes. Try this Sambal Butter-Stuffed Tenderloin with Persimmon Sauce as proof.
Sambal Butter-Stuffed Tenderloin with Persimmon Sauce
Photograph © 2014 by Antonis Achilleos
Sambal butter is a bit like Sambal mayonnaise – the combination of one plus one does not equal two. Something about mixing chile garlic paste (sambal oelek) with fat transforms the simple ingredients, Rumpelstiltskin-like, from straw into gold. This butter effortlessly corrects the greatest sin of tenderloin, its leanness, while imparting great flavor and a little heat. Add the Persimmon Sauce for a tart, fruity note, placed in proximity to the Blackened Baby peppers and fragrant Minted Rice Squares, for, as the saying goes, “the best results.”
One 1-lb/455-g tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons/55 g butter, at room temperature
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons sambal oelek
2 tablespoons organic high-heat oil
Dry the meat and cut it deeply down the center lengthwise, without cutting all the way through into two pieces. Salt the meat inside and out and set aside on the counter. In a small bowl combine the butter, shallot, and sambal oelek. Mash with a fork until all the ingredients are thoroughly integrated.
Distribute about two-thirds of the sambal butter along the length of the cut sides of the meat. Pinch the two attached halves together, pressing the butter back into the meat. Cut a 5- to 6-ft/1.5- to 1.8-m length of butcher’s string and tie a knot around one end so that it holds the cut closed. Wrap the string around the meat four or five times to reach the other end. Switch back, making a crisscross pat¬tern with the string. Tie the remaining end to the loose end of the initial knot.
Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Heat the oil over high heat in a large frying pan, preferably cast-iron. Place the meat, cut-side up, in the hot oil and cook until the bottom browns up nicely, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the meat, pan and all, to the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meat firms up slightly, giving only lightly when poked. The internal temperature should be about 140°F/60°C. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing (it will gain several degrees as it rests) and serving.
Persimmons are vastly under-appreciated, given how tasty, pretty, and versatile they are. To make this sauce, you’ll need to find (or wait for) Hachiya persimmons that feel like jelly beneath the skin when you squeeze them. Trust me, they’re not overripe—they’re perfect. When firm, the fruit is as unpleasantly tannic and astringent as anything I’ve tasted. Do not substitute Fuyu persimmons here—they’re great for salads but aren’t the right consistency for this sauce, unless you purée them.
2 very ripe Hachiya persimmons, peeled and mashed
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Heaping 2 tablespoons pickled Japanese ginger, coarsely chopped
Combine the persimmons, rice vinegar, and pickled ginger in a small saucepan. Set the mixture over very low heat and bring it just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and serve hot.