Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Our small, local Iron Chef competition.

We just wrapped up our annual "Iron Chef Mason Lake" at my folks' house located outside of Hood Canal, along the shores of Mason Lake. It always falls on the Memorial weekend holiday and with the drizzly, windy weekend ahead it was a nice deterrent. The winner from the previous year gets to choose this year's theme ingredient and, boy, did he pick a doozy: dried fruit. What the ...? I was leery of this pick. And I wasn't the only one.

But as it turned out, to every one's surprise, many wonderful and creative dishes came out of the kitchen that day; lettuce wraps with a tangy dressing, candied pecan green salad, fried fruit rice and a funky trail mix that gave throughout the day.

I entered two chickens roasted over dried fruit, accompanied with dried fruit stuffing and a slightly sweet gravy- Thanksgiving in May with a twist!

My recipe started out well enough. I sauteed up the butter and onion for the stuffing at 7am the day before the competition. My husband yelled from the other room how great it smelled - that was until I added the dried fruit. He eventually came out wondering what the rancid smell was and told me, matter-of-fact, it wasn't looking good for my dish. But the following day as I prepared the rest of the meal, he came back around and immediately partnered up with me. (Just meaning, he'll take credit if we win!)  But that all changed when he started helping my mom BBQ her dish. He quickly abandoned our "partnership" when he saw the potential in my mom's. I don't blame him - pork tenderloin cubes wrapped in bacon and dipped in pecan crumbs and served with a side of fruit chutney. I would've done the same thing.
Our crew has good taste and the pork tenderloin won by a huge margin. My husband did an excellent job on the BBQ and cooked them to perfection. He really did deserve a little credit and my mom was happy to oblige.
So, in honor of our little Iron Chef competition on Mason Lake, I thought I would post the winning recipe:

1 pork tenderloin
6 bacon strips
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tbsp finely snipped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp finely snipped fresh lemon thyme

Cut the tenderloin into 2 inch cubes. Roll a strip of bacon around each tenderloin cube. Secure with a toothpick.
Brush each side of the exposed pork with olive oil. Stir together the pecans, salt, and pepper, and fresh herbs.and coat each end of the tenderloin pinwheels with the pecan mixture. BBQ grill the pinwheels on medium-high heat (375 to 400°F) and cook for 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until the bacon is crisp. Serve with the the winter chutney.


yield: Makes 2-3 cups
This cinnamon-and coriander-spiced chutney combines wine, raisins and dried fruit. Serve with pecan-rubbed pork.

1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp brandy
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Place above ingredients (first 10) in sauce pan. Heat and Simmer covered 15 minutes. Strain mixture and discard solids. Return to stove and add: chopped mixed dried fruit to total 2 cups. (cranberries, pears, apricots, apples, dates, raisins, pineapple, papaya, etc.) 1 Tbsp minced crystallized ginger.

Heat to boil and then simmer until it becomes a thick syrup and the dried fruit is hydrated and tender.. Transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

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