Monday, October 20, 2014

Iberico Pork Tenderloin - Fried and Baked

Iberico pork is pork from the free-range pata negra ("black-footed pig") found in southwestern Spain near the border of Portugal. This pig has a completely natural diet, foraging the floors of the oak woodlands of that region eating thyme, rosemary, mushrooms and acorns. The genetics of the pig allow it to store fat inside of the muscle tissue, not just outside, which produces tender, rosy meat with a high degree of marbling. The diet of acorns also produces fat high in oleic acid which raises good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol. 
Iberico pork tenderloin.
I've heard of Iberico pork for years, so when I saw that Exotic Meat Market had it available, I decided to order a pork tenderloin. I found a recipe for Iberico pork tenderloin with charred red pepper sauce that looked really easy and good. 
Acorn fed Iberico pork tenderloin from Spain.
My package is solomillo Iberico bellota. Solomillo means sirloin steak and bellota means acorn. The recipe calls for a red bell pepper. I've only got green and go with that. I roast it on my outdoor grill until it is charred on all sides and let it cool. Then I chopped a small yellow onion and five large cloves of garlic and fried them in a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat until softened and golden. Then I chopped up the green pepper and added it to the onion/garlic mix along with a teaspoon of paprika. I cooked it for another minute or two and transferred the mixture to a food processor where I added a teaspoon of dark cherry balsamic vinegar (the recipe called for sherry vinegar) and pulsed it until it was combined. Then I added a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil and pulsed it until it was combined, then seasoned it with salt and pepper. This made the side sauce for the pork.
Skillet with onions, garlic, green pepper and paprika, ready for the food processor.
Blended into a nice sauce with additional olive oil, salt and pepper. Very tasty.
I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I also heated a skillet on high, rubbed the Iberico pork tenderloin with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and placed the tenderloin in the skilled for three minutes without moving it. Then using tongs, I flipped it over to the other side for two minutes. Then I transferred it to a pan in the oven for one minute.

I removed the tenderloin from the oven and put it on a cutting board for 15 minutes before slicing it. As directed, I drizzled some olive oil on the pork slices and had the pepper/onion/garlic sauce on the side.
Tenderloin on the cutting board while it cools. 
Sliced, drizzled with olive oil and pepper sauce on the side. Excellent!
I liked the rareness of the meat. For those a little squeamish, a little longer in the oven would cook it a little more. 
I quite enjoyed it and the sauce complemented it nicely. I suspect that the recipe called for me to transfer the skillet into the oven directly with the meat in it and I transferred it in a separate pan that was not hot, so it probably did not cooked as much as it would have otherwise. Mine was a little more rare than the picture in the recipe I followed. However, you don't want to over-cook a prime piece of meat like this.

Judy felt that it was too rare for her and passed on it. I was fine with that as it gave me more to feast upon.

I looked at a number of other tenderloin recipes and liked this for its simplicity, how quickly it could be prepared and cooked and the fact that it left the pork itself as the main attraction without a lot of add-ons. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Smoked Trout

One of the delicacies we found in Colorado was smoked trout, purchased at a health food store in Buena Vista. I've previously mentioned ground elk, ground goat and various cuts of buffalo that were also available at the same store. 
I've had smoked trout previously and I think it is some of the best smoked fish I've ever had. Smoked trout tends to be moister than other types of smoked fish and I particularly love the fatty moister portions, including the skin. The ingredients, aside from trout, are brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, mapeline, sugar, honey and Montreal Steak Seasoning.  

It looks like it was smoked on a grill (note the grill marks) and you can see the moisture in the pictures. It had a strong smoky, spicy and relatively sweet taste. It was great in a sandwich, the taste really stood out even with lots of other ingredients. It was also good in salad and fantastic eaten plain. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ground Elk, Avocado and Egg Breakfast

When we spent several days with our family near Buena Vista, Colorado in August I found some ground elk patties in the health food store in Buena Vista (along with buffalo steaks and goat ground meat). I'd not had ground elk before so could not resist. 
For breakfast one morning I browned an onion in some oil, then mashed up the ground elk with the onion and some corn kernels cut off corn on the cob from the night before.  I'd previously taken a number of avocados and mashed them into guacamole. 
Ground elk patties.
Corn kernels from corn on the cob.
Onion, corn and elk in the frying pan.
After the onion, corn and elk mixture was finished I placed a serving on individual plates, then layered the top of it with guacamole. Then fried eggs over-easy to place on top of the guacamole. 
Moist, different textures and flavors.
It made for a very nice and hardy breakfast.  The egg yolk, avocado and meat went well together. There is not much fat in elk, so the oil in the fried onions, the avocado and egg yolk some moisture and flavor. It made a great combination.  

I really love the options of meat other than beef, chicken and pork. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

White-Winged Dove

The white-winged dove has a distinctive white wing patch which is visible on the fore-part of the wing when it is not in flight. It has a patch of blue featherless skin around the eye, bright crimson eyes, and a long dark mark on the lower part of the head. It is brown/gray above, gray below and its feet and legs are pink or red. 
White-winged dove in Palm Desert.
The white-winged dove was originally found in the southwestern U.S., Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, but it has expanded its range through Texas, Louisiana, coastal Mississippi, Kansas, Arkansas,Oklahoma and northern New Mexico. It has also been introduced in Florida. 

This particular male was photographed a number of years ago in Palm Desert. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

House Finch

The house finch has a square-tipped brown tail, is brown or dull-brown on the back with some shading into gray on the wing feathers. The breast and belly may be streaked and the flanks usually are. Adult males have heads, necks and shoulders that are reddish which sometimes extends to the belly and down the back. The coloration of the male varies by the season and comes from the berries and fruits in its diet. Adult females have brown upperparts and streaked underparts. 
Adult male house finch showing red on head, breast, belly and back and streaking.
Front view of male.
View less impacted by sun in background. 
They were originally found in Mexico and the southwestern U.S. In the 1940s they were introduced in New York City illegally and the vendors let them go to avoid prosecution. They spread out from there and are now found across the U.S. displacing the native purple finch. 

We had a house finch nest on our front door a number of years ago and got some pictures of the babies as they developed and eventually left the nest. My pictures of the adult male are poor.
Young house finches in the nest sport what look like bushy eye-brows and wild looking corners of their mouths.

As they mature, the bright yellow beak and corner pieces disappear and the "eye-brows" become less unruly.
Only three remain - one has flown away.
Only one remains. This last one actually flew away shortly after I took the picture.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mirror Lake Diner - Kamas, Utah

As a boy, my family had a ranch in Oakley, Utah which was co-owned with my uncle's family. I have many fond memories of the ranch, including going to the Hi-Mountain Drug in nearby Kamas and having a hamburger and then going to a movie at the next-door theater, with tennis shoes sticking to the floor sticky with soda and who-knows-what-else. 

I was in Utah recently for a quick visit and read an article in the Deseret News that named Hi-Mountain Drug in Kamas as having the best affordable burger on the Wasatch Front. That was shocking to me - could not be the same burger I ate as a boy. It gave me a yearning to try it. 

So I called Sam, living in Provo, and arranged to pick him up for a Sunday drive. We drove up through Provo Canyon, Heber and finally into Kamas. Sam was patient with me as I blathered about memories of my youth and experiences in the area, including eating at Hi-Mountain Drug and going to the theater. However, my plans were quashed when we found Hi-Mountain Drug closed for business on Sunday. 

On the drive in to Kamas I noticed a Mirror Lake Diner which was not there when I was a boy and we decided to go back several blocks and try it. It had quite a few cars in the parking lot and I was surprised to walk in and find it full of people, many of them youngish and athletic looking.  When I was a boy Park City was kind of a back-water. Snowbird was the hip place. Now Park City and Deer Valley, not all that far away, are awash with Hollywood glitter and there has been spillover into the surrounding areas. 
Mirror Lake Diner in Kamas.
Mirror Lake Diner was opened in May 2013 by Gabe and Betty Morin. Gabe, a chef from Maine, came to Utah in the early 1990s and worked as a chef's assistant at Alta's Rustler Lodge for 14 years and at Easy Street Brassiere in Park City. He discovered Kamas and decided to open his own shop. It is a far cry from the hamburger and fries in a plastic basket, and milkshake, from the Hi-Mountain Drug of my youth. Menu names include dishes with place names like Slate Creek Corned Beef Hash, Kings Peak Chicken Fried Steak, Mirror Lake Cakes, The Samak, Ledgefork Smothered Burrito, Moffitt Mountain Oatmeal, Trial Lake Biscuits and Gravy, Bald Mountain Bagel Sandwich, Cobblerest Monte Cristo, Crystal Lake Fish and Chips, Wolf Creek Rueben, Ruth Lake Tuna Melt, Left Fork Chicken Sandwich, Pine Valley Veggie Sandwich, Gold Hill Garden Salad, Iron Mine Mountain Quinoa Salad (I'd never even heard of Quinoa when I was a youth) and Duschesne Tunnel B.L.A.S.T. I'm aware of some of these places, but not many of them. Somehow, "Mirror Lake Cakes" sound better than pancakes although I'm not sure how appetizing "Duschesne Tunnel" sounds. 

Then there are dishes named after people. Uncle Dave's Spinach Salad,  Betty's Eggs Benedict, Jamie's Greek Omelet, and Mary Ellen's Omelet. At least the menu sounds like there is a little love and attention going into the dishes.

Sam got the Crystal Lake Fish & Chips with Pacific cod, a lager batter and house-made chips. The chips were definitely made in-house as each chip was a very large, relatively thick, section of deep-fried potato. He gave me a bit of fish and some chips and they were quite good, particularly the fish. 
I got the Bald Mountain Bagel Sandwich which had two eggs (normally hard, but I got them over-easy), bacon, avocado, tomato and cheese. I asked for and got cream cheese on the side with I added to the sandwich. The slices of bacon were long and thick and the egg yolk busted and slathered all over the bun, bacon and avocado. The bagel was fresh and soft. It was a very nice combination. I also mixed in some over-easy eggs with the hash browns and enjoyed that wonderful combination.
The restaurant had a pleasant, easy-going atmosphere, there was fun local art on the walls and we had a nice, pleasant lunch. I suspect it was much nicer than the Hi-Mountain Drug burger, but I may have to go back and try it again.

Sam was subjected to some more reminiscence as we drove by the ranch, then up to Smith-Morehouse Reservoir where I caught a small jack-rabbit as a boy at a fathers and son's outing. The scenery at Smith-Morehouse, on the edge of the Uinta Mountains, was spectacular. The aspen leaves had turned yellow and snow was covering the taller mountains. 
Beautiful yellow aspens mix in with pine several miles from Smith-Morehouse.
I'm not sure what causes the red colors, but it adds a beautiful contrast.
The snow-covered mountains beyond Smith-Morehouse.
Coming back and the snow-covered mountain beyond the other end of Smith-Morehouse.
I had a wonderful trip into the past and Sam survived the trip down memory lane.   

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Eurasian Collared-Dove

The Eurasian collared-dove was introduced to the U.S. and is now found through extensive parts of the U.S., down into Mexico and in the Caribbean.
Eurasian collared-dove on senita cactus in Mexico.
It is pale gray-buff with a black collar. The tail is fairly long and blunt ended. The primaries are darker than the rest of the wing, appearing blackish. The ringed turtle-dove is smaller, has a shorter tail and is paler. It also has less contrast between the flight feathers and the rest of the wing. 
I saw the pictured doves in El Pinacate and Gran Desierto in Mexico below Organ Cactus National Monument in Arizona. One is standing on a senita cactus and another is nesting in a palm tree.