Pork Loin with White Wine Peppercorn Sauce, Pan-Fried Cauliflower Steaks and Sweet Potato waffle fries

This dinner sounds kinda fancy.  It tastes pretty fancy too, but trust me, it’s EASY.  I started making this for dinner parties last year and it always goes over with rave reviews – it’s so hearty that your guests won’t even notice that the meal is gluten, grain and dairy free.  My family likes this one a lot too – the only trick is to be careful about how much pepper you use to crust the loin – if you put too much on it’s SPICY (in a bad way) and if you put too little on, it doesn’t have enough flavor.  That’s really the only tricky part – the rest is, well, gravy.

Pork Loin with White Wine Peppercorn Sauce

Serves 4

Adapted from www.gimmesomeoven.com

1 Pork Tenderloin (~1 lb)

2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, divided

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (you can use onions if you don’t have shallots on hand, but shallots taste soooo much better)

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1/4 cup coarse-ground black or mixed peppercorns

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup carton coconut or almond milk (coconut milk will impart a distinct coconut flavor, which is delicious, but almond milk will not impart any of it’s own flavor)

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

To prepare the tenderloin: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Trim pork tenderloin of any excess fat, and remove silver skin.  (For a helpful video on how to remove silver skin, see here.)

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Generously season the tenderloin with the freshly-cracked black pepper, and press to be sure it sticks.  Add to the skillet and cook, turning as needed, for 4 to 5 minutes (about 1 minute per side), until evenly browned. Transfer tenderloin to a greased baking dish, and place it in the oven to roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin reads 140 degrees. Remove dish from oven and transfer the tenderloin to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

2. To make the sauce: Meanwhile, in a skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat, add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes.  Then add the garlic and saute 1 more minute.  Add the wine and as it boils, deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon (helps to have one with a straight edge) to dislodge all the browned bits. Once the wine is almost cooked away, add the chicken stock and turn the heat to high. Boil the sauce down until there’s a noticeable trail when you drag a wooden spoon through the center of it (4-5 minutes).

Pour in the cococnut or almond milk and resume boiling. Again, boil down until you can make that telltale trail from the wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and add the parsley and any remaining black pepper (no more than 1 Tbsp, the rest should have already been used to pepper the tenderloin). Taste for salt and add if needed.

Cut the tenderloin on a slight diagonal (in 1/2″ or 1″ slices), and then spoon the sauce over to serve.

Pan-Friend Cauliflower Steaks

Serves 4

1 Cauliflower, sliced in half, then into 1/2 in thick steaks

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet

2. Add cauliflower steaks, so they are in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.  Once they are nicely browned, turn them over carefully, so the whole steak stays intact.

3. Once both sides are brown, remove from pan and serve.

I served the pork and cauliflower over a sweet potato waffle fry – I used the Alexia brand in order to save time, but you can adapt this recipe from Paula Deen if you want to make your own.  After dinner, I snuck back into the kitchen and made myself a bowl of paleo ice cream, with kiwis, blueberries and honey on top.

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Paleo Pork Carnitas

This is one of my family’s all-time favorite recipes.  It’s a recipe I have always made for dinner parties and get togethers and it’s a great recipe for leftovers!

Until we moved into our current house, I pretty much stuck to standard Mexican-American fare, including hard-shell tacos, tostados, and taco salads.  We discovered a restaurant by our house called Taqueria Guaymas, and after a little encouragement from my husband, tried a more traditional, soft taco.  I was hooked!  This place has the most amazing options: Carne Asada, Picadillo, Chicken, BBQ Pork, Carnitas, Prawn, Veggie, and on and on.  The first time I tried carnitas, I was HOOKED.  The perfect mix of greasy, crispy, onion-y (that’s a word, right?) glorious taco.

A few years later, on browsing through my Cook’s Illustrated, I found this recipe and have been making it regularly ever since.  Today, I was feeling a little bit of Paleo-diet induced boredom and thought “hmmm….I wonder” – I pulled out my recipe book and, voila!  a paleo meal fit for a queen.

Pile up the pork on a plate, add guacamole and pico de gallo and this will be delicious.  You can also put all of this on top of lettuce and you will have a great taco salad-style meal.

Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

Serves 6

Pork:

1 (3.5 – 4 lb) pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/8 in thick, cut into 2 in chunks – I usually buy Boneless Pork Shoulder Ribs (much cheaper and easier to find)

sea salt and pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 medium lime, halved

1 medium orance, halved

2 cups chicken broth (or water if you don’t have chicken broth)

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and head oven to 300 degrees.  Combine pork, sea salt (to taste) and pepper (to taste), cumin, onion, and bay leaves in a dutch oven.  Juice the lime and orange halves and place juices and spent fruit halves into the dutch oven.  Pour water over pork mixture and fruit halves.  Cover and place in oven.  Cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours.

2. Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a bowl, discarding onion, bay leaves and fruit.  Place pot over high heat and simmer liquid, stirring frquently until thick and syrupy (heatsafe spatula should leave a wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes.  You should have about 1 cup of reduced liquid.

3. Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half.  Fold in reduced liquid.  Spread pork in an even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan.  Place on lower-middle rack and broil until top of meat is well browned (not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.  Flip pieces of meat and continue to broil 5 to 8 minutes longer.

Guacamole

1 large or 2 medium ripe avocados

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 roma tomato, diced

1 clove garlic, diced (or pressed)

1 small shallot, diced

sea salt and pepper to taste

Dump everything into a bowl.  Mash with a potato masher or the back of a fork (I use my pastry cutter).  Add sea salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon of each).

Pico de Gallo

3 roma tomatoes, diced

1 medium shallot, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

1 tablespoon lime juice

sea salt and pepper to tase

Mix all of the ingredients together, cover and refrigerate for minimum 1/2 hour.  Keeps for 2-4 days in refrigerator.