Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Seared Okra and Pimento Cheese Grits

Bacon Wrapped Porkloin, Seared Okra and Pimento Cheese Grits

 

Super easy and impressive meal you can make on a week day, no problem. This was actually inspired by several meals I’ve eaten at restaurants. The bacon wrapped pork came from Soby’s and I’ve blogged before (Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin). The pimento cheese grits I had at Distilled at Gratz Park Inn. The seared okra I had at High Cotton Greenville. I made these a little more approachable for me at home but the combination is amazing.

This is as southern a meal as it gets. Bacon, pork, grits and okra. I made this for the in-laws from Indiana, they loved it. Other than the okra, everything pretty much self seasoned. The bacon on the pork and the pimento cheese in the grits.

Before we get started on the recipe, I want to dip my toes in a controversial topic here in these parts. Pimento Cheese. If you aren’t from the south and have never tried it, you might turn your nose up at it. You shouldn’t. It is fantastic. Here’s a shocker, I don’t like (I loathe) mayonnaise (unless I make it myself), an essential ingredient in every pimento cheese. I still love this stuff, but I digress.

The Controversy

Do you have your own recipe for pimento cheese? Which mayo do you use? Heaven forbid, do you add jalapenos? Do you only eat your Grandmothers? Do you buy it from a store or deli? What brand do you buy? You’d be surprised how many different answers to those questions you might get around here and the conversations they turn up. It’s almost (ALMOST) as bad as asking a southern about BBQ.

My answers are: Yes, I have made it myself. Duke’s is the only mayo if you must. Yes, I love jalapenos in mine. Nope, I eat just about anyone’s recipe. Yes, I buy in the store most times. Palmetto with Jalapenos (from Pawley’s Island) is favorite.

Ruth’s is another brand made in South Carolina that you can find in most stores but Palmetto isn’t as sweet or mushy.

 

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Set oven to 425 ° and set a large pan over medium high heat.
  2. Slice the okra in half length wise, toss in a bowl with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Wrap the pork with the bacon so that the seems are on the bottom of the tenderloin.
  4. Place the bacon wrapped pork in the hot pan seem side down and then sear on all sides. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until desired doneness (it is supposed to be 165 but I pull it before that). Place on a cutting board and allow to rest.
  5. Heat a large grill pan over medium high heat.
  6. Depending on the type of grits, cook per the instructions. I generally use half water and half milk. Also, if it calls for butter, I substituted olive oil. Just before serving mix in pimento cheese and allow to melt. For four servings I used 3-4 tablespoons.
  7. Place the okra in the grill pan and sear on both sides until just slightly tender.You should have nice grill marks.
  8. To serve, spoon some grits down, slice the pork and stack, then top with the okra.
  9. Enjoy!
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Seared Okra and Pimento Cheese Grits

South Carolina Shrimp and Grits

South Carolina Shrimp and Grits

A southern tradition, shrimp and grits is perfect any time of year. This is my version and a little non-traditional but delicious all the same. Definetly low-country based, my version uses Poblano and Serrano peppers instead of bell pepper (more traditional). Bacon (a food group and complete sentence on its own). More traditional recipes call for Madeira and I used Sherry (only because that’s what I have). The grits normally would be from Anson Mills, but I didn’t have any so I used yellow grits from Lakeside Mills in NC and they were great. Cheddar cheese is the standard for adding richness and depth to the grits but I used Asiago for some salt and tartness. The local SC shrimp were outstanding.

There is nothing quite like shrimp and grits. In the winter it is warm and comforting. In the summer it is surprisingly light and refreshing. If you’ve never had low-country shrimp and grits, I encourage you to try this recipe. It is easy and you won’t regret it.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs unpeeled raw shrimp (local if you can get them)
  • 4 thick slices applewood smoked bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium sized Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 Poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced (I left the seeds and stems in)
  • 2 large garlic cloved, minced
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • 1-2 tablespoons AP flour
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • ¼ cup Sherry
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Grits (Not instant, just don’t do it. Recommend Anson Mills)
  • Milk
  • Water
  • ¾ cup grated Asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped green onion
Directions

  1. Follow instruction for the grits. They usually call for just water. If they call for 4 cups of water I generally replace 1 cup with chicken stock and 1 cup with milk. I would generally add salt but if your stock is not low sodium, I wouldn’t add here. When the grits are done add a tablespoon of butter and the cheese, cover and keep warm.
  2. Rinse, peel and devein the shrimp leaving the tails on. Dry and set aside.
  3. In the meantime, in a large skillet, render the bacon on medium heat until crispy (don’t rush it). Remove from the pan and place on paper towel to drain. Once cooled and drained, cut in small strips. Depending on the fat content of your bacon, you may want to remove some of the fat from the pan (or not).
  4. Add a tablespoon of butter to the bacon fat. Add onion, Poblano and Serrano and sauté. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Deglaze the pan with Sherry. Add chicken stock, lemon juice, and Tabasco. Cook a minute and whisk in flour. Bring to a bubble then reduce to medium. Adjust sauce to get the consistency you prefer (add more stock for thinner sauce, more flour for a thicker consistency). Add the bacon back to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste (you shouldn’t need much if any).
  5. Add shrimp and toss until the shrimp are just barely cooked through. Do not overcook.
  6. To serve, place grits in the middle of a plate. Add shrimp and spoon sauce over the lot.
South Carolina Shrimp and Grits

Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits and Quick Chow Chow

Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits, Quick Chow Chow
One of my favorite things to do culinarily is to attempt to mimic a meal from a favorite restaurant. I try to make the same meal, with my twists. Maybe I add a little more of this or less of that. An example is a visit to The Lazy Goat (a favorite in downtown Greenville, SC) I had a brilliant lunch. Serrano Wrapped Halibut with Haricot Verts and Duck Fat Fries (best in the world…duck fat, enough said). This inspired me to make Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut with Haricot Verts and Baked Duck Fat Fries. I switched the prosciutto for the Serrano because I like it better and I baked the fries because I don’t have a fryer.

Earlier this year on a pilgrimage to Charleston, SC we visited a newly opened restaurant for dinner. Husk, a Sean Brock (admittedly one of my favorite chefs) restaurant, offers local southern inspired cuisine. As a matter of fact, none of the food served in the restaurant can come from north of the Mason-Dixon line (seriously). That night I had a Fudge Farms Pork Chop with Crispy Pig Ears, Bacon Braised Cabbage and Speckled Butterbean Chow Chow. Yes, I said with crispy pig ear. It was amazing, the pork chops were perfectly cooked, and the broad beans add a nice creamy balance against the sour and heat of the chow chow. Oh, and then there is the pig’s ear. I tell you, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It essentially tastes like bacon. I love when Chef’s use the whole animal, I think it respects the animal to discard as little as possible. I digress; the pig’s ear was crispy, smoky, sweet and salty. It really did finish the dish perfectly. On last thing, if you aren’t familiar with chow chow, it is a spicy southern relish that is usually used down here as a condiment.

So that was my inspiration for Pork Chops, Creamy Grits, Chow Chow and garnished with crispy turkey bacon. On a visit to Whole Foods, we just couldn’t decide what we wanted for dinner. Jen suggested that we hadn’t had pork chops in a while. They had the biggest chops I’d seen, fresh, local, organic, thick cut chops. I’d never made chow chow before. A quick Google search gave me some ideas, but I am WAY to impatient to wait 6 hours to 2 weeks as most recipes suggested. I decided on a “quick” chow chow instead. The creamy grits tied this dish up nicely. I could probably have found some fresh pig’s ears (I actually had a bag of smoked ones for my dogs) but…umm…I’ll leave that to the professionals. I usually would have used my go to Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, but I’m embarrassed to say, I was fresh out. All I had was Jen’s turkey bacon. All in all, this meal was very nice.

The chow chow was amazing, crunchy, sour, salty and spicy. We still have some in the fridge, I imagine it will be all the better in a few more days. I have talked in previous posts (like making quick kimchee and quick pickles) about my impatience in the kitchen. I have an idea and I want to eat it that night, not in a week or heaven forbid TWO WEEKS. The chow chow is the same deal. Most traditional chow chow are pickled and set for weeks or longer. My answer to that is below. Also, my jalapenos weren’t quite ready for harvest so I substituted Srirachi (my favorite condiment). This gave it a little Asian twist, which we liked.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 thick cut pork chops
  • Anson Mills Grits (you can use quick grits but NOT instant)
  • Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Half and half (milk or heavey cream)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cheese (your favorite cheese that melts easy)
  • 1/2 head of savoy cabbage
  • 2-3 green tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper cubed
  • 1 small vidalia onion sliced thin
  • Vinegar (I used a mixture of red, white and cider)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar to taste
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS

  1. First we’ll make the chow chow. Heat a large pot over medium. Because this is the “quick” version, I put the green tomatoes into my food processor and pulsed them about 10 times. I wish I would have only pulsed 5-6 times; it would have left a few more visible chunks. Add a touch of olive oil and drop in the onions and bell pepper, mix for a minute. Add green tomato and juice from processor. Mix all together and add salt, vinegar, sugar, sriracha and bring to boil. Reduce to low and simmer until vegetables are cooked through but still have some crunch. At this point I just removed from heat and let sit until I was done making the other components. Traditionally you cool and put in the refrigerator. I was deliberately vague on the amounts for this recipe. Just add to your tastes, if you like more heat add more sriracha. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 420 degrees.
  3. If you have “real” grits, they may take up to 40 minutes to cook. If you have quick grits, that time will be more like 5-10. As for “instant” grits, it is just not right, don’t do it. 🙂 Prepare the grits per the pack, but I usually replace half of the water with half and half, heavy cream or milk. When the grits are done, add cheese and butter (if you like). Also, on this day, I poured the drippings from the pork chop pan in. That added most of the seasoning. Keep warm.
  4. For garnish I used turkey bacon brushed with molasses, but I just can’t recommend that to you all. Use smoked bacon. Put the bacon on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Cook until crispy.
  5. For the pork chops, season with salt and pepper and in a large oven proof pan sear both sides. Place in the oven until the chops reach the appropriate doneness. I think the rule is 145 degrees. I like them a little pink, I usually target 130-135 degrees and let the carry-over cooking, when removed from the oven, bring them to a safe temperature.
The “sauce” you see in the photo above is actually the pickling liquid from the chow chow. I was very pleased with my decision to serve the chow chow warm. While eating, the sauce mixed with the grits and was delicious. I like the vegetables being sour with good heat and still having some crunch. The chow chow was nice this way although not traditional. Let me know what you think.
Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits and Quick Chow Chow