Dinner tonight was a bit of a fiasco.
You know, I’ve gotten so good at my meal-planning that I hate it when things don’t fall into place. Kurt’s always impressed when everything is finished at the same time, and I put a hot main dish on the same time as the veggies and homemade rolls. He is usually so focused on getting just the main dish done that he usually forgets everything else. Then he remembers at the last second, which means that the main dish has started to cool off by the time the veggies are done.
He still cooks wonderfully, so you’ll hear no complaints from me.
But when things just don’t go well, I get frustrated.
Tonight’s dinner was Red Chile Pork Tacos with Caramelized Onions. Kurt had made some “roquemole” — guacamole with the addition of Roquefort cheese — earlier in the day, and he wanted something Mexican to go with tortilla chips and the roquemole. I was in the midst of making up my menu plan for the week when I noticed the recipe for the pork tacos. Knowing that Kurt loves pork, and that I probably don’t make it enough, I decided to go with it.
The only changes I planned on making from the get-go was to omit the green onions, and to use tortillas instead of taco shells. Neither of us are fond of raw onions; they don’t taste right to us. Reading the reviews, a lot of people had substituted cilantro to add some green, fresh taste, and I’d already bought some at the commissary for another recipe. So cilantro it was. Kurt prefers tortillas over crunchy taco shells, though he won’t turn down a delicious taco if you offer it to him, where I don’t like crunchy shells at all. They always seem to break on me and make a mess all over everywhere.
The recipe itself was fairly simple. Take a pork tenderloin, trim it, and pat it down with a rub made from ancho chile powder, brown sugar, and salt. Roast at 425º for twenty minutes or until the pork registers 160º. Let rest for five minutes, then slice. While the pork is roasting, thinly slice some onions until you have three cups worth, and caramelize them in a pan with a little bit of vegetable oil. Once everything is cooked, add some sliced to a tortilla, and top with the caramelized onions, some chopped tomatoes, and the cilantro.
That was the plan, anyhow.
The pork was not cooked after twenty minutes. We have a digital thermometer, so I didn’t have to slice the darn thing open to realize it was still raw inside. It was reading just 80º internally after twenty minutes in the oven.
The thing is, I know my oven is off. This is why I have an oven thermometer, and why I know if I need the oven preheated to a certain temperature, I have to wait at least five minutes after the oven beeps to tell me it’s preheated. It’s usually 50º cooler than it’s supposed to be when it beeps. Knowing that, I started the oven preheating well before I started preparing the rest of the meal, and I gave the oven another ten minutes after it beeped before putting in the pork to roast.
Yet the stupid pork wasn’t done when it was supposed to be, and everything else ready.
And to add insult to injury, my silicone mini-mitts decided to fail on me as I was pulling out the meat for the umpteenth time to check its internal temperature. I now have two burnt fingertips on my right hand. Grrr.
I ended up having to roast the pork for at least forty-five minutes before it was ready to eat. I went back to the recipe and read the reviews again, and one person had mentioned she had cut up the pork, added the rub, and then stir-fried the meat because she didn’t want to spend the time in roasting the pork. But you know, roasting it is, I think, the way to go.
I cannot begin to describe to you how juicy the pork turned out. I mean, it was pretty much wet when I finally sliced into it after letting it rest. Kurt cut the slices into slightly smaller pieces to go into his tortilla, and he didn’t even need a knife. That’s how tender it was. And the crust surrounding the outside that resulted from the rub was just amazing. Kurt suggested that next time maybe we should forego the tortillas entirely and eat the pork with just the caramelized onions.
That might be the plan next time. Only I will know that I have to roast the pork for far longer than the recipe calls for. I think I just figured out the problem, though; I may have used the wrong cut of pork. Whoops.
Oh, and I haven’t even talked about the caramelized onions. I have no idea what it is, but I love caramelized onions. And they’re so simple to do. Just add a bit of oil to your pan, add a ton of onions, and sprinkle a bit of salt on top. Cover and cook until the onions have reduced down considerably, and they’re golden and sweet.
They’re like candy at that point. I could not stop eating the darn things when I was waiting for the pork to cook. Kurt left me a few onions in the bottom of the bowl when he finished his portion, so I gobbled them up — straight out of the serving bowl.
They were good!! You would have done the same thing, I assure you.
I know I will make this meal again because it was just that good. Next time I’ll make sure I have enough time to roast the pork thoroughly and have everything else done at the same time. And I’ll be sure to use my big, heavy silicone oven mitts too.