Friday, April 30, 2010

Cook’s Illustrated Challenge #1: Grill-Roasted Pork Loin & French-Style Mashed Potatoes {Foodie Friday}

I told y’all earlier this month that I was going to make two random recipes from all of the Cook’s Illustrated issues I have sitting around sometime before the end of the month.  (Read about my challenge here.)  Well, that sometime happened to be just this week. 

I’m nothing if not a really good procrastinator. 

It just so happened that my two dishes for the month, Grill Roasted Pork Loin (July/August 2005, pgs. 6-7) and French Style Mashed Potatoes (March/April 2009, pgs. 18-19), were the perfect compliment to one another and I was able to just make a single, complete meal out of it. 

First, I fully read both of the articles and recipes.  Forever ago. 

So when I was at the grocery store to buy the pork loin, naturally I couldn’t remember what kind to get, so I had to call home and have my man look for me.  In the article, CI lists their top choice as the Blade-End Roast.  Naturally, I couldn’t find that at my grocery store, so I had to go with CI’s second choice, the Center-Cut Roast. 


And, since it had been so long since I had read the recipe and did not re-read it fully that morning, I didn’t realize that the loin needed to soak in a brine for 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.


So I just fudged a bit and did not brine it nearly as long, but was able to for just a little while.

I decided to use their “Sweet and Savory Spice Rub” so I toasted some cumin seed, coriander seed and fennel seed then ground them and mixed them with some ground cinnamon and allspice.

 100_8054  100_8056

And then I realized it was supposed to sit out for an hour at room temperature after being seasoned.

Double oops.

100_8060I did do the grill instructions as called for.  I browned it on all sides over direct flame and then let it roast over indirect heat.  It cooked a lot quicker than I expected.  It was pretty close to being done after the initial 20 minutes.  It probably only cooked another 5-10 minutes longer, which was just enough time for me to pull together the mashed potatoes.

100_8067  100_8070

I couldn’t figure out what made mashed potatoes “French Style” for the life of me before I read the article.  The writer talks of having had these smooth and stretchy, garlicky and cheesy mashed potatoes he encountered one time in Boston.  The French dish is known as aligot.

First, I peeled and sliced my Yukon Gold potatoes, as called for, and boiled them until very tender.

 100_8049 100_8052 100_8053

I got ready to hand-grate my mozzarella and Gruyere cheeses and then realized that I would be using the food processor already for the potatoes… I could just go ahead and use it now for the cheese as well. 


100_8059 After adding the butter and garlic, it was a fairly thick mass.  100_8061Then, I added milk and processed for another 10 seconds or so.  I opened the top to scrape down the sides and as I went to click the top back on, something went wrong.

100_8062The top was stuck on and required male and screwdriver intervention to pry it loose. 

100_8063And as you can see, I mean an actual screwdriver… not the drink.

Although I maybe could have used the drink at this point as well.

After we got the top off, I wasn’t going to dare to put it back on at the time, so I had to forego the 2nd 10 seconds of processing and went straight to the saucepan.

I’m still not certain if the food processor is forever damaged

In the saucepan, I added the cheeses a little at a time and was supposed to stir “vigorously” over medium heat.  I had to hand the spoon over to my man for a few minute of vigorous stirring because… WOW… that was a work-out.

Who needs Jillian Michaels when you have French-Style Mashed Potatoes to make.

100_8064Mine did not turn out quite as creamy, smooth and elastic as the writer made them out to be, but I don’t know how much of a difference that extra 10 seconds in the food processor would have made. 


My daughter was impressed that I made my plate “restaurant style.”  She was so impressed that when we had leftovers the next night, I made everyone’s “restaurant style.”  If she only knew what lengths other real food bloggers go to in order to style and photograph their food, she wouldn’t be nearly as impressed with my pitiful display.

 100_8072Regardless of all the ways I didn’t or couldn’t follow the instructions, both the Grill-Roasted Pork Loin and the French Style Mashed Potatoes were really good.  I am such a sucker for a good garlicky cheesy mash and these were exceptional.  The Gruyere cheese added a nice sharp saltiness and along with the garlic….. oh wow.  Good.  The pork loin was excellent as well.  I would probably just use my normal spice rub on it next time since it has all of the same ingredients and quite a few others along with some brown sugar.  But it was moist, and flavorful. 

I will let y’all know this weekend what my next two recipes will be.  I’ll also update the recipe blog with the recipes if y’all are interested.  But right now, it’s late Thursday night … no… it’s early Friday morning.  I’m tired.  That is all.


MaryMoh said...

Beautiful meal. The mashed potato looks so creamy..mmmm. I love it.

Kay said...

Nothing like having an appliance emergency right in the middle of making dinner. Looks yummy though! :)