Soby’s Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini and Habanero Butter Sauce

Sobys bacon wrapped tenderlion

Soby’s was one of the first upscale restaurants to open up on Main Street here in Greenville, SC. We’ve had a number of important dinners there, including our wedding dinner. As long as I have been going there, one of my favorite meals has been the bacon wrapped pork loin with broccolini, mashed potatoes and a habanero cream. The habanero cream sauce is the hit of the dish and it makes me crave it. I crave it so much, I decided to remake this meal at home.

I have to say, this was about as close of a recreation as there gets. The crispy/fatty bacon (I use Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked) is a nice balance against the lean pork loin. The crunch broccolini adds freshness and lightens the dish. The whipped potatoes are the glue and the habanero cream sauce… oh that spicy cream sauce blends perfectly with everything. The best bite is when you get a bit of all the components together on the fork. I love when meal components are great alone but are enhanced by each other. Amazing.

I’d like to offer a hat tip to Let’s Dish for the Habanero Cream Sauce recipe. I only slightly modified it.

 

Habanero Cream Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 habanero pepper
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pork loin (they come in two packs at my grocery)
  • 4-6 slices applewood smoke bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
  • 1 large bunch of broccolini
  • 2-3 large baking potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Salt and pepper
Directions for Habanero Cream

  1. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  3. Whisk in the flour and cook until the rue is light blond.
  4. Slice the habanero in half and add to the pan. Note: for less spice, only use half. For even less spice remove the seeds and steams.
  5. Whisk in the milk and increase heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and bubbly.
  6. Stir in the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and keep warm. Remove the habanero halves before serving.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Wrap the pork loin tightly with the applewood smoked bacon keeping a slight overlap on each wrap.
  3. Place the pork in oven pan and roast until desired doneness about 25 minutes. The last few minutes you can switch to the broiler if the bacon is not crisp enough.
  4. Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into uniform chunks. Place in pot of cool salted water with the smashed garlic cloves. Bring to boil and let them go until fork tender. Strain potatoes and using a ricer, food mill or food processor “mash” until you achieve the consistency that you like. I mash the garlic right in with the potatoes for extra garlicky goodness. Return potatoes to the pot, add approximately 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, as much half and half, heavy cream or milk as you like and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.
  5. To save time and keep from clean two large pots, while the potatoes were boiling I add a steamer to the same pot and steamed the broccolini. You can do this in a separate pot if you like, but it worked out just fine using the same one.
  6. Once the broccolini are as tender as you like (I prefer mine almost raw), set aside.
  7. To plate this like Soby’s does, after allowing the pork to rest, slice the pork. Add the potatoes, three pieces of pork (as seen above), top with broccolini and pour the cream around the edges of the plate.
  8. Enjoy!
Soby’s Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini and Habanero Butter Sauce

Carolina Mule – An Adult Beverage Recipe

Carolina Mule my version of the Moscow-Kentucky Mule

Moscow Mules are all the rage apparently. Copper cups, vodka and ginger beer with a bit of lime. I was reading one of my cooking magazine (I forget which) and I came across a Kentucky Mule. Basically they replace the vodka with bourbon. Anyone who knows me, knows very well that if bourbon is involved, I’m in.

I got to thinking (very dangerous), what if I switched up the ingredients a little and used some local products. I give you the Carolina Mule.

In my Carolina Mule I use bourbon from a local distillery called Six & Twenty. They have a very cool back story involving Issaqueena, a Choctaw Native American maiden. The particular version of bourbon was their 5 Grain whiskey that uses all local grains.

Blenheim Ginger Ale is stuff of South Carolina legend. I’m not sure if you can get this stuff anywhere but the south. There are three flavors that are distingiushed by the color of the cap on the old-school looking bottles. The #9 has a white cap and is a diet version. We like to pretend that this one doesn’t exist. The second is #5 and it has a gold cap. This one will test you pretty good. The third is Old #3 Hot and it has a red cap (actually, it is sort of pink). This one is my favorite and it will BLOW. YOU. UP. It is like drinking pepper, super spicy, and burns your throat as it goes down. Seriouly, when you first try it you’ll be like, “Why?, Why would you do that?”. Soon… you’ll crave that burn, you’ll need that burn and you will be addicted. I’ve heard stories of people driving hours and buying cases of this stuff.

My Carolina Mule has bitters in it. Why? Because I made them. My wife gave me a kit to make my own bitters. I made two kinds, one had a high proof bourbon as the base, the other had Carolina White Lightning (moonshine). I’m not going to say where the moonshine came from, as it might get members of my family in trouble. Let’s just say, this stuff is legit, not that low proof crap they sell in liquor stores and mass market. BTW, if it is sold in a store, it ain’t moonshine. Anyway, I made the bitters with citrus. They are potent to say the least. I understand that you all won’t have Carolina White Lightning citrus bitters, so use what ever bitter you like or leave them out.

I further modified the Moscow/Kentucky Mule versions by adding ginger infused simple syrup. In the south, we like things sweet and just a little bit of the syrup topped the drink off in a fantastic way. For the final southern touch, I used a frozen Mason Jar instead of the traditional copper cup.

So to sum up, this is my version of a Kentucky Mule’s version of a Moscow Mule. It did turn out very nice.

 

Ingredients

  • 2.5 oz Six & Twenty 5 Grain Bourbon (or your favorite bourbon)
  • 1-2 dash Carolina white lightning citrus bitters
  • .5 oz ginger infuezed simple syrup
  • 1 lime
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 bottle Blenheim Old #3 Hot – Red Cap Ginger Ale (ginger beer works well too)
Directions

  1. Add the bourbon, bitters, 1/2 the juice from the lime, ginger simple syrup and a few mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to combine.
  2. In a frozen Mason jar, glass or copper cup add ice and strain in the contents of the shaker.
  3. Fill the glass with Blenheim Ginger Ale.
  4. Garnish with mint and lime and enjoy (responsibily, this stuff packs a punch.
Carolina Mule – An Adult Beverage Recipe

Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Charleston, SC

McCrady's, my favorite Charleston Restaurant

I’ve seen a lot of list of the best restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina. Some are really good but all are based at the end of the day on personal preference. How much do you want to spend? What kind of food do you prefer? Can you get a reservation? These questions are much more likely to drive what your favorites are going to be. Most of the restaurants I’ve listed, you can expect to pay $50/person plus drinks. Expensive for some, I know, but you get what you pay for. There are certainly more affordable options to eat in Charleston, they just didn’t make my top five list.

We travel to Charleston several times a year. It is a short three hour drive from our home in Greenville, SC. I’ve said it before in other posts, but I love Charleston for the history, the beaches and the food. My wife loves the history, the beaches and the shopping (not necessarily in that order). It is just about our favorite place to go. I’ve eaten at A LOT of restaurants over the years, but a few keep me coming back over and over. Here is my completely biased and unscientific list with a few bonuses below. By the way, if you are planning a trip to Chucktown (as no one calls it) and need some advice, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help. Or, if you have some suggestions for me, pass those along in the comments as well.

  1. McCrady’s

    My favorite restaurant ever. This is the pinnacle, my culinary Mecca. Executive Chef Sean Brock, a James Beard awarding winning chef, grew up eating a lot of the same southern things I did. He took that old school knowledge, sourced the finest local ingredients (people, he has his own farm) and applied modern techniques. The result is not just food but amazing dinning experiences, it is art.

  2. FIG

    Another amazing restaurant from another James Beard awarding winning chef, Mike Lata. This small restaurant also focuses on local, seasonal ingredients. The simplicity of the food is what gets me every time. Da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” That is what you should expect here, elevated cuisine. Perfectly executed, well balanced and tasty food. Even the name FIG, or Food is Good, is perfectly simple.

  3. Fulton Five

    Shhhhhh. This is a local favorite and as fate would have it, where I got engaged to be married. It is that kind of place. Southern Living routinely (if not every year) ranks it as the most romantic restaurant in the south. The food is ridiculous as well. A heavy Italian influence is clear on the menu but most of the ingredients are sourced local based on the season.

  4. Husk

    IF (and that is a big capital IF) you can get dinner reservations, the restaurant is totally worth the visit. All ingredients (exept maybe some wines) are sourced this side of the Mason Dixon line. This is the second restaurant Chef Sean Brock opened and was named “Best new restaurant 2011” by bon appetit. This is southern cooking at it’s best. Think pork chops, bacon, fried chicken, collard greens, buttermilk biscuits and on and on. (Another shhhhh, but if you can’t get dinner reservations, stop by for lunch or go by the Husk Bar next door.) This restaurant was so popular, they opened another one in Nashville.

  5. The Ordinary

    Truth be told, I haven’t been here yet. We have reservations for next week. I’m preemptively adding this one to the list. Why? Two reason, Chef Mike Lata (see FIG above) and seafood (after all, it is Charleston). I’ll follow up with more legit reasons after we are back.

Bonus dish: Hank’s Seafood a la Wando

Hank’s is, in Charleston terms, a new restaurant, but it immediatly became a favorite because of one dish. Seafood a la Wando. Follow the link to learn more or see how I tried to make it at home.

Bonus view: Fleet Landing

Fleet Landing is right on the water. On a nice day, you can sit outside and watch the dolphins and other sea creatures playing. You can also watch the cruise ships let out (some times the best people watching, especially the European ones.) This is one of our favorite lunch spots. I’ve heard they have a great brunch but we never make it passed… well, see the next item.

Bonus brunch: Poogan’s Porch

After a long night of whiskey drinking at Husk Bar, you can cure your ills. Poogan’s Porch, named after a dog that hung out there (love it already, right?), has the best southern brunch you could want. Get there before Church let’s out though, our you’ll be waiting a while.

Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Charleston, SC

SC Mahi Mahi and Shrimp, Grilled Carrots and Kale, Potato Puree with Basil Pesto

SC Mahi Mahi and Shrimp Grilled Carrots and Kale Potato Puree with Basil Pesto

Beach trip meal cooked (almost) exclusively on the grill. We picked up the local Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish) and shrimp that day at Mt. Pleasant seafood located right on the water at Shem’s Creek. The carrots, kale, green onions and basil were all from our CSA. The potatoes were left over smashed potatoes from a few nights before. It all worked out very well and there were no leftovers.

This was a weird meal but fun. The goal was to use up all that was in the fridge and to only use the grill to cook with, and we did.

 

Ingredients

  • Fresh Mahi Mahi filets
  • ½ lb fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, double skewered
  • Smashed potato leftovers
  • 1-2 leftover bacon strips
  • Milk
  • 1 punch baby carrots
  • 1 punch dinosaur kale
  • 1 punch fresh basil
  • ½ cup almonds (or pine nuts)
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions

  1. Get your grill going with a hot side and a cool side.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add the basil, almonds, cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice and pulse to combine. Drizzle in olive oil until the pesto reaches the consistency you want. I usually add garlic but my Dad doesn’t like it so I left it out. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Toss carrots, kale and green onions with olive oil. When the grill is hot and still has some flame, and the carrots and kale. Cook until charred and move to the cool side until cooked through.
  4. In a blender or food processor add the leftover potatoes and bacon with 1-2 cups of milk, puree. Add more liquid if need be. Add the puree to a large pot and heat over medium-low heat until warmed through, keep warm.
  5. Brush fish filets and shrimp with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the mahi to the hot part of the grill and close the lid. The fish will release when it is read. Flip the fish and cook until done.
  6. Add the shrimp cook until just cooked through.
SC Mahi Mahi and Shrimp, Grilled Carrots and Kale, Potato Puree with Basil Pesto

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork, SC Mustard BBQ Sauce and Blue Cheese Coleslaw with Baked French Fries

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork, South Carolina Mustard BBQ and Blue Cheese Coleslaw with Baked French Fries

In the south it is sacrilege to not smoke barbecue. Well I don’t have a smoker and I do have a slow-cooker. In South Carolina, where I live, and really anywhere in the Carolinas there is a BBQ joint on every other block. That is a great thing. Some restaurants do it better than others, of course, but it is all good.

Barbecue Sauce

BBQ sauce is the source of many great debates here in the south. Where I live in Greenville, SC, we are in the middle of several regions with clearly defined sauce preferences. The western parts of the Carolinas generally prefer tomato based sauces. The upstate of SC to the midlands prefer mustard based sauces. The midlands of SC and foothills of NC go for the vinegar based sauces. A small portion of the southern part (in the middle) of SC and into GA prefer (gasp) ketchup based sauces (yuck). I like all of them but my favorite since I was a kid is the mustard based, so that’s what I go with. I found a great recipe here at the Food for my Family site. Before I continue, sauce is a condiment that you add after. You don’t cook BBQ in sauce, you just don’t do it.

Slow-cooker

I never owned a slow-cooker. My cable TV provider (stick with me) has a rewards program that gives you points each month. Once a month they offer up items you can get using your points. I got a slow-cooker. So now I have this thing and have no clue what to do with it. Well, here is what I did with it first.

 

Pulled Pork Ingredients

  • 1 2 to 4 pound boneless pork shoulder (whatever will fit in your slow-cooker)
  • 6 potato buns (or your favorite hamburger buns)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons hot paprika
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 3 tablespoons Dale’s marinade (or soy sauce)
  • Salt and pepper

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup onion, minced
  • ½ cup yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons hot sauce (Tabasco or Texas Pete)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blue Cheese Coleslaw Ingredients

  • 1 package shredded cabbage
  • 1 package broccoli slaw mix
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles (less or more if you like)
  • 1 cup coleslaw dressing (less or more if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Baked French Fries Ingredients

  • 3-4 baking potatoes cut into fries
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Directions

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, the paprika, mustard powder, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and combine. Rub the pork until covered.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add vegetable oil and heat until it shimmers. Sear the pork on all sides until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the pork and add a ½ cup or so of water. Whisk to remove any bits and drippings from the pan. Add that liquid to your slow-cooker.
  3. Add the vinegar, tomato paste, remaining brown sugar, liquid smoke and Dale’s marinade plus another cup of water to the slow cooker. Whisk to combine. Add pork and more water if needed. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. After 4 hours, turn the pork over and cook for another 4 hours.

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce Directions

  1. In the meantime, heat a sauce pan over medium heat. Add butter and cook until melted and add the onion and garlic. Once the onion becomes transparent and soft, add the yellow mustard, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and hot sauce. Whisk to combine and reduce heat, simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat until cooled slightly. Pulse with an immersion blender until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the sauce to cool completely. Place in the refrigerator.

Baked French Fries Directions

  1. Soak fries in salty water for 10-15 minutes (minimum), drain and dry thoroughly. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the fries in a large bowl and toss with oil to cover and season liberally with salt and pepper. Line a large sheet pan with non-stick aluminum foil and add the fries. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and cut the heat to 400 degrees and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Flip the fries over and continue cooking until you achieve desired doneness.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw Directions

  1. In a large bowl add the cabbage and broccoli slaw mix, blue cheese, yogurt and less of the dressing then you think you’ll need, toss to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add more dressing just before serving if need be. Place in the refrigerator.
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork, SC Mustard BBQ Sauce and Blue Cheese Coleslaw with Baked French Fries

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