As the continuing warmth emanates throughout the grove, my thoughts turn to socializing, gathering and sharing a meal with special friends. When I cook, I always incorporate my grove jewels into everything I prepare. (That's why I wrote a cookbook titled Jewels From My Grove, Persimmons, Kumquats & Blood Oranges). A favorite recipe of mine featured in that book is the following:
CARAMELIZED BLOOD ORANGE PORK TENDERLOIN
This recipe works as well for chicken or duck as it does for pork. If using poultry, select skinless breasts or thighs and adjust the cooking time so the meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Serve with jasmine rice or cook the rice in chicken stock and the liquid from the blood orange infusion.
4 blood oranges
2 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves
2 (4-inch) stalks of fresh lemongrass
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Extra virgin olive oil, to cover blood orange peel
1 to 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds total)
Blood orange infusion zest strips
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon coarse salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons blood orange infusion oil, for searing
Coarse salt, to taste
Blood orange slices
To make the blood orange infusion, cut blood oranges in half and place in a large saucepan with kaffir leaves, lemongrass, olive oil, wine and salt. Add water to completely cover blood oranges. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until orange peels are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Drain and reserve the blood orange liquid for cooking the pork and rice, if desired. Carefully remove the blood orange peel from the flesh. Scrape off all white pith on the peels, leaving only the orange zest. Cut the zest into 1-inch-wide strips.
Put the zest strips in a small container and completely cover with olive oil. Keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover zest will keep refrigerated for at least a week.
To prepare the meat, place pork on a clean work surface. Remove strips of zest from the oil, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, and layer over the pork. Sprinkle with ginger and salt, then firmly pat brown sugar on top.
To cook the pork, preheat oil from the blood orange infusion in a skillet over medium heat. Place tenderloins sugar side down in the skillet. Cook without turning or moving for approximately 5 minutes. If the sugar begins to burn, reduce heat slightly. When the sugar side is well-browned and caramelized, turn and sear remaining sides for 10 to 15 minutes more. Cook until meat registers an internal temperature of 145 degrees (F) for medium rare or 150 degrees (F) on an instant-read thermometer.
Transfer to a carving board, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Season to taste with remaining salt and serve with blood orange slices and infused rice, if desired.
This recipe, and many others, can be found in my recipe book, Jewels From My Grove and can be purchased at the following link: