Should we ever take a trip to New York City, chef Jonathan Waxman’s restaurant will be at the top of our list of places to visit. His mantra is “creating bold flavors with simple ingredients” and this dish very much reflected that. Also, while all the other professional chefs on the show are running around the kitchen with the clock ticking in their ears, Waxman is strolling through with a drink in his hand, his simple, winning dishes already finished. This is a hilariously endearing contrast. But most importantly, Jonathan Waxman creates amazingly delicious food and that’s why we chose to make his recipe for pork tenderloin with poblano stuffed shrimp and avocado butter (recipe found here).
I was determined not to screw up the pork tenderloin (as I have many times in the past) so I went with a small, local and natural pork tenderloin, marinated it exactly according to the recipe and even brought my meat thermometer to properly gauge the internal temperature. The worst pork dinner is the piece of grey, overcooked, flavorless meat. My goal was to honor the pig and I can proudly say, “Mission accomplished.”
The marinade was simple — soy, lemon and lime juice, olive and sesame oils and lemongrass. The tenderloin marinated for about four hours then we popped it into a grill pan to brown and finished it in the oven until the internal temperature was just 140 degrees. It was perfect.
It sounds strange, but the Asian flavors of the tenderloin were completed by the southwestern flavors of the poblano stuffed shrimp. K grilled them with their shells on while we roasted a poblano pepper in the oven with the pork (the recipe doesn’t call for this, but I like how roasting a poblano mellows it out and takes down its sharpness). Meanwhile, K cut up some flour tortillas and fried a few tortilla chips so they’d be hot and fresh.
I mashed up an avocado and put that, some minced jalapeno, “mojito juice” (which was not in the recipe but we took to mean mojito without the rum), lemon and lime juice into a pan with butter. The sauce kept breaking — buttery oil rising to the top despite all whisking efforts — but when you put avocado and butter together it results in yummy so its less-than-perfect appearance was no problem.
The pork having rested for about 10 minutes, we assembled the creation and had a lemongrass mojito while we were at it. After all, the recipe called for “mojito juice” anyway and a lemongrass mojito is what Chef Waxman was enjoying while making the dish.
A seemingly strange combination of Asian marinated pork and southwestern shrimp came together in a buttery, tender, flavorful, crunchy meal. Wow. Well done, Chef Waxman. And that lemongrass mojito was a nice touch too!