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- from my senses to your screen -

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chocolate (Volume I)

Is there a more loved and craved ingredient than chocolate? It's delicious, it's a spirit healer, it makes you feel loved (literally, because it contains phenylephylamine - the same hormone the brain triggers when you fall in love) and it is also believed to be an aphrodisiac (I'll leave that up to you).

I love it with almost everything-with fruit, melted over bread, powdered on top of my coffee, dark, light, pure and unadulterated. I've had gourmet chocolate confections with chile, wasabi, curry, sea salt, pomegranate, it's amazing how it blends with all these exotic tastes without losing its essence.

Chocolate it's by far one of the most amazing foods on the planet, and that is why I feel the need of experimenting a little more with it. I know I am not totally original by doing this, after all, my latest experiments have been really inspired by the fantastic mexican mole, which is one of my favorite concoctions in the planet. But since mole is so difficult to make and does not really count as an everyday meal (unless you are Rick Bayless), I am trying to use some of this background to amuse my family's palette and see where that leads in my future of my stardomship as a famous Home-cook.

This weekend I surprised my husband with a treat and I would love to share the recipe. There are really a couple of stars in this one. Bitterweet Dark Chocolate, Fleur de Sel, Mexican Tarragon, and dark beer.

The Tarragon may be a little difficult to find, so I highly encourage you to buy the plant . I got the grown plant at Target (go figure) and it is a staple herb on my kitchen. It has anise, sweet undertones. The Aztecs used it on their chocolate drinks and they served it as a nutricious meal. It grows all year round in warm climates.

About the Fleur de Sel, I am going to give one piece of advice. Do yourself a favor, go to your kitchen and throw away the regular salt from your pantry. That stuff is bad for you. I am not saying that you should use this expensive salt for everything. For everyday cooking, you could use sea salt or kosher salt, and then, for special days or to salt your tomatoes, eggs, or anything that requires a pinch of salt on top after it's cooked, use Fleur de Sel. You will not regret it. It's good for you (it has over 20 minerals that your systems needs to function properly) and its taste it's amazing.

Bon Appetit!

Pork Loin in Bittersweet Chocolate and mexican tarragon sauce.
4 Thick cut pieces of Pork Loin.

4 Tbsp of Olive Oil

5 oz of Dark beer.

2 Large stems of fresh mexican tarragon.

4 Pieces of Fresh Garlic

Peppercorn blend

1 tsp of Powdered Chile

4 squares of bittersweet chocolate.

Sea salt

1 Tbsp of Flour (if neccesary to thicken the sauce)

Fleur de Sel to finish.

Peel the garlic and cut it in thick slices. In a pressure cooker, add the olive oil, garlic. Cook in medium heat until garlic starts to look tender then add the pork. Let the pork get golden brown on both sides and then add the tarragon leaves, some pepper, Chile, sea salt and last the beer. Let it cook until it's about to boil and put the cover on your pressure cooker. Turn the heat up, wait until you hear the whirring of your cooker, that means is boiling and cooking at the speed of light, bring the heat down and leave it for about 15 minutes. Then turn the heat off, let your cooker decompress either by waiting or putting it under running cold water until you don't see vapor escaping. Only then, you can uncover the pot. Bring the pork back to the heat again. Let the juices simmer until they are no longer watery. Add the chocolate. It'll melt and thicken your sauce a some more. Taste and add the desired amount of Fleur de Seul. The sauce should not be too sweet, but you should taste the chocolate.

Take the sauce out and blend it so it's all one creamy consistency.

Only in the case of your sauce being too watery, I' d recommend to thicken it before you blend it. Take some of the liquid out, let it cool, add the flour, mix it and then incorporate this mixture, very slowly, back into the sauce. You'll see it getting thicker almost inmediately.

Serve the pork, pour over the sauce and decorate with a stem of Tarragon.

In this case, I served it with pearl potatoes in a spicy peppers sauce (Peruvian huancaina sauce) and some sweet corn on the cob.

If you don't have a pressure cooker you can still do this dish in a regular pot but it will take a lot longer for the pork to be tender. I highly recommend the use of pressure cookers. Once you use it, you'll be totally addicted to it. They are extremely fast and they can turn a piece of stone like meat into a beautiful tender, juicy roast in less than 20 minutes.

Have fun in the kitchen and see you all soon!



Paula said...

Se ve delicioso! Me encanto conocerte anoche y espero que nos mantengamos en contacto. Un abrazo.

Marty said...

Andy, Looks fantastic!!! As a chocoholic, this is right up my alley. I only have one question... how do you cook in your pressure cooker without the bottom burning? It seems that every time I use mine the bottom burns...

Andie said...

Hey Marty!
I usually put enough liquid (and butter or oil) in my pressure cooker for that not to happen. Also, remember, pressure cookers are FAST! I used to blow mine up all the time until I learned that!