Supper Chronicles: 001 | My wife says béchamel is spelled with an “O”

So some of you may know that I have recently been released from a 13-day  stay in the hospital, due to not one but two surgeries in my belly region. And 11 of those days I had the pleasure of chowing down on absolutely nothing save the IV fluid being pumped directly into my blood system. Yes – torture for a food-obsessed creature, I know. My only tasting pleasure came from swishing water and spitting it back out (that’s right – 11 days getting the pleasure of merely tasting cold water).

Well, enough of that. The ol’ digestive tract made a full recovery and lo and behold, eating has never been more satisfying, if not much much more intentional.

And, one of the many benefits of all this recovery time is that I finally had enough time and mental bandwidth to lay the infrastructure to get this blog going. But my energy for actually cooking was minimal… until just a few nights ago.

It started with the blog post about béchamel. It made me dang hungry, but it also made me want to cook. Really bad. Also, I realized I need to actually do a béchamel over asparagus soon, and take pictures so I wouldn’t have to rely on cheap stock photography. So I immediately started thinking about an easy grilled meat that would compliment this rich goodness. One that could also deliver the “Deal With This” factor. Pork tenderloin seemed to fit the bill. Then I thought – how can I kick up the sauce to easily inspire the Deal With This readers. It needs to show just how versatile this whole mother sauce concept is. As is the case with all my recipes, my hope is that you see them as launching pads – not ends unto themselves. So I though I would try to mix another favorite element (that would no doubt be money with the pork), and that element simply had to be browned butter and sage.

And yes – I highly recommend you try this IMMEDIATELY. I mean it… tonight! My wife tasted a preemptive spoonful of the sauce before I drizzled it on the asparagus and exclaimed “Yumm-Oh… as in a BIG O!” followed by a wry smile. Who doesn’t want that kind of response from a loved one? The magic of browned butter and sage scored me some massive points.

Here is what was on the plate (clicking on the links will take you right to the recipe):

For the following recipes, I’ve simply documented what I did. I’ve added alternate ideas in parentheses.

So first things first – here’s how to do the Browned Butter and Sage Béchamel:

You’ll first need to refer to my previous recipe for béchamel.

You will also need the following:

3 T. of unsalted butter (you may want to up it to 4… but try 3 at first)

10-12 medium sized fresh basil leaves chiffonade (that’s a fancy term, ain’t it? just roll them up like a tight taco and slice it all up real thin)

Referring to the béchamel recipe, you’ll you have the sauce pretty much done after the salt and pepper is adjusted to taste. In another pan melt the butter. It’s gonna bubble up, so keep swirling the pan from time to time. Then it’s going to start to turn a golden brown and smell fantastic. Not so much buttery but real nutty smelling.

Dump the finely julienned sage into the butter and watch it sizzle for a couple of seconds. Swirl it around for about 10 seconds and dump the whole lot into the béchamel and whisk it all together until your sauce is back to it’s smooth and decadent glory. Taste and swoon.

Grilled Vindaloo Spiced Pork Tenderloin

1 Whole pork tenderloin

Kosher salt

Cracked pepper

2 t. Vindaloo spice (For Vindaloo spice, check Penzey’s, or other ethnic food stores. (Or use whatever spices or spice blend you feel like -your favorite pork rub, garlic salt, herbs… follow your bliss)

2 t. Black & Red mix (again, Penzey’s – this is simply a hot pepper blend – you could substitute cayenne)

Handful of fresh thyme and rosemary finely minced (or not)

Preheat your grill to the highest setting.

Remove silver skin from pork tenderloin: Find the small 4-5″ area of shiny thin membrane and use a sharp knife – preferably a boning knife to slide underneath and cut away skin.

Liberally salt and pepper tenderloin then sprinkle Vindaloo spice an other herbs.

When grill is blinding hot, sear tenderloin on all sides until you get good marks and color all around (usually the tenderloin gets seared on 3 sides to cover it completely), then turn off half of your burners, move the tenderloin to that side and lower the other side to medium low. Close the lid and check for doneness after 5 minutes. (may take up to 15 minutes depending on how hot your grill burns). When the tenderloin feels a little more firm, yet still has some good give and spring to it, remove it from heat and place in a dish and tent with foil. The tenderloin should rest for at least 7 or 8 minutes. Slice diagonally to get 6 thick slices (3 per plate). Should be light pink on the inside. Save the ends for end-of-meal nibbling, or make a sandwich later.

Roasted Vindaloo Spiced Baby Potatoes

8-10 small red potatoes (slightly bigger than golf ball size)

8-10 small yellow potatoes

2 T. olive oil

Kosher salt

Cracked pepper

1 t. Vindaloo spice (if you used different spices for your pork tenderloin, use them here as well)

2 t. Black & Red mix

1 T. fresh thyme finely minced

Preheat oven to 430 degrees. Place roasting pan in oven on middle rack while oven is preheating. Invest in a couple real roasting pans. They’re not that expensive and you need them in your arsenal. (here is what I use).

Rinse potatoes in large metal bowl and set out on towel to dry. Remove any strange dark spots with peeler. Cut them in half and throw back into the bowl. Add olive oil, S & P, herbs and spices and toss vigorously to coat all potatoes.

Remove pan from oven (um, yeah… with a potholder, please) and throw potatoes in the hot pan. With tongs or a fork flip the potatoes cut side down and place in the oven. After 25 minutes loosen the potatoes with a spatula and roast for another 10 minutes. Flip again and roast for 5-10 minutes more until everything is a nice golden color and the skin side starts to shrivel slightly. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.

Grilled Asparagus

One handful asparagus (yep – super-precise, I know, but usually if you can get your thumb and finger to touch while holding a bunch of asparagus, that’s probably a good amount for 2 people)

2 T. olive oil (really just a couple glugs, but for the engineers in the audience…)

Kosher salt and cracked pepper

Preheat grill to med-high heat.

Snap the white ends off the asparagus. Do this by holding the middle and bottom ends in each hand and bend until it snaps where it wants to snap. That is where the inedible part is. Discard what snaps off.

Throw asparagus in a loaf pan, or something similar . Drizzle enough olive oil to lightly coat. Sprinkle kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper over asparagus and shake pan to coat all the stalks.

When grill is good and hot, arrange asparagus on grill. Shuffle asparagus after 2-3 minutes until you see light char marks. When all stalks have at least some marks remove immediately to clean dish or loaf pan. The asparagus will taste pretty amazing  as is, but you know you’re gonna dump some super-happy béchamel over it.


3 Responses to “Supper Chronicles: 001 | My wife says béchamel is spelled with an “O””

  1. Sherri says:

    Well, I said to myself, “Self, since you are fixing asparagus tonight, you should use Rob’s recipe.” We all went Yum… Of course, us southerners thought it looked like thinner white gravy, but with some added fresh grated lemon peel and nutmeg, it was not your Mama’s gravy.
    In all seriousness, this was delicious on the fresh grilled asparagus. I don;t think I will ever look back on the way I used to ruin good asparagus.

  2. natalia says:

    Rob the food looks great! I am enjoying reading the recipes and making a shopping list. Can’t wait for Mark to get home from Nigeria so we can test drive these awesome flavors.

    Thanks for recovering and getting your blog started!

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