Monday, November 9, 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon Pork Tenderloin

This week's experiment involved pork and red wine. Washington state is really fortunate to have six hundred (yes, that's right, six hundred) wineries across the state, most of them east of the Cascades. So I get to sample some really excellent wines.

Columbia Crest puts out several lines of wine: Columbia Crest, Columbia Crest Grand Estates, Columbia Crest Reserve, Two Vines, and Horse Heaven Hills (3H). My favorite so far is the Two Vines wines; I haven't sampled the 3H wines yet. Wine Enthusiast, if I recall correctly, has stated that Two Vines have given several wines in the line 90+ points and says they are undervalued. I agree.
Disclaimer: I am not being recompensed for my evaluation of this vineyard. I also may not be remembering the correct magazine; it may be Wine Spectator.

To get on with the experiment, I had gotten some lovely pork tenderloin last week at the grocery store (has a lovely butcher in house). Today I took off work after a weekend trip to rest and recover, but felt well enough to cook a nice dinner. While I was piddling around the kitchen, I had the inspiration to inject the pork with wine infused with cinnamon and clove. Yummy!

Cabernet Sauvignon Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
2 sticks cinnamon
8 or so cloves
1 to 2 cups of wine
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Put the salt in a small, heatproof bowl. Add a few drops of wine to the salt and mix. Add wine until the salt begins to turn purple (do not dissolve salt). Set salt aside to dry.

Break up cinnamon sticks into smallish pieces. Place remaining wine, cloves, and cinnamon in small saucepan or saucier. Simmer, do not boil, for 15 minutes to half an hour. Let cool.

Strain the spices from the wine. Inject the wine into the pork tenderloin from each end. After injecting the first end, stand tenderloin on uninjected end and gently massage until wine is absorbed. Then inject the other end.

Coat bottom of baking dish with oil. Smear wine salt onto the top and sides of the tenderloin. Let rest for an hour or so.

Place the soaked cinnamon and clove in the baking dish. Bake at 350°F (175°C) until tenderloin reaches 170°F (77°C). Let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Slice thinly and serve either hot or cold.

The pork tenderloin turned out quite moist, tender, and flavorful. The cinnamon and clove did not overwhelm the inherent sweetness and flavor of the meat, but rather enhanced it. I served it cold as I didn't know when my partner would be home from work (meeting ran over).

Some observations:
  • I could have used more cinnamon and clove without doing too much harm to the pork. I certainly would use more for beef.

  • I need to work on my injecting technique. The meat had dark bands through it -- either I didn't use enough wine, didn't massage enough, or didn't let it sit long enough before cooking. This will require more experimentation

  • I'm glad I didn't use a merlot or zinfandel with the pork. I think I would have overwhelmed the flavor of the meat. Next time I will consider using a lighter pinot noir just to see how well it would work.

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