Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Mesa Grill Cookbook: New Mexican Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Ancho Sauce

One of my goals while living in New Jersey was that I would try at least one famous restaurant. Of course finding one that was even remotely within my means was a ludicrous proposition to begin with.  I was originally considering Mario Batali's Babbo, but since pretty much the entire menu at Babbo is organ meat, you can see why I went to Mesa Grill instead.

After nearly scaring the pants off of my waiter by whipping out a camera (I think he thought I was a food critic), I devoured the pork tenderloin. Tender, spicy, and delicious...the sauces make the whole thing though.  The sweet potato tamale on the side was amazing, with its topping of butter and pecans. I was practically moaning as I ate, which I'm sure did not do anything to improve my reputation with the waiter.  And yes, the picture is from the restaurant, not my kitchen.  When I learn plating skills like that, I'll be really impressed with myself.

New Mexican Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Ancho Sauce
From The Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay

3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon pasilla chile powder
2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds pork tenderloin
Bourbon-Ancho Sauce
Smoked Red Pepper Sauce

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Stir together the ancho powder, brown sugar, pasilla powder, chile de arbol powder, cinnamon, allspice, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a medium ovenproof saute pan over high heat.  Season the pork with salt on both sides, then dredge in the spice rub and tap off any excess.  Place the pork in the pan and sear on all sides until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the pork to medium, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the pork from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Slice into 1-inch thick pieces.  Ladle some of the bourbon-ancho sauce into the center of each of 4 large plates and top with 3 slices of the pork.  Spoon more sauce on top, drizzle with smoked red pepper sauce, and garnish with chives.

Makes 4 servings

Bourbon-Ancho Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bourbon
3 ancho chiles, soaked, seeded, and pureed
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup thawed apple juice concentrate
8 black peppercorns
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
Kosher salt

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the 2 cups bourbon, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to a few tablespoons, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the ancho puree, stock, apple juice concentrate, peppercorns, and brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, return the mixture to the pan, and reduce over high heat to sauce consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the 2 tablespoons bourbon, cook for 2 minutes, and season with salt.  This can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated.  Reheat before serving.

Makes about 1½ cups

Smoked Red Pepper Sauce
4 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
½ small red onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves roasted garlic, peeled
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chipotle chile puree*
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup canola oil

Combine the red peppers, onion, garlic, vinegar, honey, mustard, and chipotle puree in a blender, season with salt and pepper, and blend until smooth.  With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified.  Strain the sauce into a bowl.  This sauce can be made 1 day in advance and refrigerated.

Makes about 2½ cups

*Making chipotle chile puree - Empty the contents of a can of chipotles in adobo sauce into a food processor and process until smooth.  Chile puree can be covered and stored for up to a month because of the vinegar in the adobo sauce.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Magnolia Bakery: Chocolate Cupcakes

I decided to splurge and visit the bakery that is hailed as the best place for cupcakes, the Magnolia Bakery in the West Village. I didn't know it had been on Sex and the City.  Yes, I'm the only woman between 15 and 80 that didn't watch it. Yes, I waited in the line that went around the corner to buy a cupcake. Yes, I had to push through the people to fill my little box. Yes, I paid something like $8 for two cupcakes and two cookies.

What I got for my trouble was...stale cupcakes.  And a kinda tasteless vanilla cupcake.  Talk about disappointment.  I've got to think that making these babies at home helps a bit with the whole staleness thing.  And I hope that this was just a freak incident, and normally the cupcakes are magnificent.  Because I'd hate to think that many people just want to be like Carrie, no matter what.

Chocolate Cupcakes
From The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook by Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Buttercream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers and set aside.

To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. Ice the cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Chocolate Buttercream
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-15 minutes.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on low speed until a desired consistency is reached.