Friday, March 23, 2012

50 Women Game Changers in Food - #40 Elena Arzak - Milk-Braised Pork Tenderloin with Baby Spinach and Strawberry Salad



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Some would argue that the grail of nouvelle cuisine can be found in Spain. The country has a surprising number of Michelin-3 star restaurants and it is hard to deny the influence that its greatest chefs have had on the cooking revolution. The food here can be exciting, and while its form and presentation have changed, it remains delicious and often entertains. Many consider Ferran Adria to be head of this revolution. If he is its sorcerer, than Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena must be its alchemists. Elena has joined Gourmet Live list of the 50 Women Game Changers in food. She now heads the kitchen at Arzak, a position that puts her in rarefied company. Worldwide, there are only three women who head kitchens that have been awarded the coveted Michelin third star. She is one of them. Elena was born into a family of restaurateurs and she knew at an early age that she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps. As a child, she spent hours in the kitchen watching and absorbing all that went on around her. It was clear to those who observed her, that she was born to cook and had the soul of a chef. Unlike many self-taught chefs, she spent 8 years outside of Spain in formal study that included culinary school, extended internships and language immersion. She even did a stage (apprenticeship) at el Bulli before joining the staff of the family restaurant in 1996. Though she was shown no favoritism, she moved quickly through the ranks and two years later she began to manage the kitchen. She has, so to speak, become her father's right hand man and the two are inseparable. Her greatest strength is her creativity and willingness to experiment with food. Her food has remained true to its Basque roots, but it is now combined with flavors and ingredients from other cuisines and assembled with techniques that are at the forefront of culinary development. Many consider her food to be avant-garde, but she considers Arzak to be a family restaurant. As a matter of fact, she has a young daughter who may one day follow in her footsteps. If you'd like to learn more about Elena Arzak you will enjoy this feature from the on-line arm of Food and Wine.

As you might suspect, there are not a lot of published or purloined recipes for the food Elena Arzak creates. I found the recipe for Milk-Braised Pork Tenderloin with Baby Spinach and Strawberry Salad on the Food and Wine site. It is not the kind of recipe I would normally choose, but because selection was so limited it, by default, became my feature recipe. What a delightful surprise! It is delicious and, though we ate three hours ago, my socks are still going up and down. This is a real treat and one that I will make over and over again. In the grand scheme of things, it is really easy to do and if you can read you can successfully make this wonderful dish. Please do. I promise you won't be sorry. Pork cooked this way is fork tender and the sauce it produces is a perfect foil for the unusual dressing on the salad. You are going to love this. Here's the recipe.

Milk-Braised Pork Tenderloin with Baby Spinach and Strawberry Salad...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Elena Arzak

Ingredients:
Four 6-ounce pieces of trimmed pork tenderloin
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons tarragon mustard or Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups whole milk
4 garlic cloves, halved
1 sage sprig
2 large sage leaves, minced, plus 12 small sage leaves, for garnish
1 tablespoon tawny port or oloroso sherry
2 cups baby spinach leaves
4 large strawberries, cut into matchsticks

Directions:
1) Season the pork with salt and white pepper, then slather it with the mustard. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the pork and cook over moderately high heat, turning twice, until browned, about 9 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate.
2) Pour off the oil in the skillet. Add the milk, garlic and sage sprig. Simmer over moderately low heat until the garlic is almost tender, about 20 minutes.
3) Add the pork to the skillet along with any accumulated juices and simmer, turning the pieces every 5 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted at the thickest point registers 140°, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate. Cover with foil and keep warm. Discard the sage sprig.
4) In a blender, puree the milk with the garlic until smooth. Return the sauce to the skillet, stir in the minced sage and season with salt and white pepper.
5) In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil with the port and season with salt and white pepper. Slice the pork 1 inch thick and arrange on plates. Spoon the garlic-sage milk sauce on top. Garnish with the small sage leaves. Toss the spinach and strawberries in the dressing and serve the salad alongside the pork. Yield: 4 servings.


The following bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Elena Arzak today. I hope you'll pay them all a visit. They are great cooks who have wonderful blogs.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Sue - The View from Great Island, Barbara - Movable Feasts
Linda A - There and Back Again, Nancy - Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen, Annie - Most Lovely Things, Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce - More Time at the Table
Kathy - Bakeaway with Me, Martha - Simple Nourished Living, Jill - Saucy Cooks

Next week we will highlight the career and recipes of Elizabeth Andoh. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information no later than Monday, March 26th.

34 comments:

Merisi said...

Another beautiful paean to a great chef!
Thank you, Mary, for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us. I enjoy coming here, being tempted by your pictures and the recipes,
Merisi

Epicurea said...

pork braised in milk is a perfect combination - pureeing the garlic into the milk takes the idea to a new level! happy friday!

Salsa Verde said...

Elena is certainly an amazing Chef and it takes a lot of work, sweat and tears to be in her position. I so admire her and her style of cooking!!
Your pork plate looks so clean, delicious and refreshing.
Cheers,
Lia.

Kim said...

If you say I have to try it, I will! I trust you entirely on the matter of food! This pork really look forktender!

bellini said...

It does sound delicious Mary. I could never aspire to emulate any of her dishes but this one does seem doable as well as delicious!

ImSoVintage said...

It's really not fair to make my mouth water so early in the morning. May I just say YUM!!!
Laura

Jenn said...

I love that your socks go up and down when you've found a great recipe!! And this does sounds like a really great recipe. Maybe not something I would have tried either..but now that it has your approval, it's going in the "to be tried" file!

Ailyn Sanchez said...

Great recipe! Thank you for sharing...have a nice weekend.

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

The pork looks like it is cooked perfectly. I love all your wonderful stories too. Happy weekend!

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Mary, This is such an elegant recipe! I have never made Pork Braised anything, but because it got such great reviews from you, I'm going to make this! Love the spinach strawberry salad. I'll have to look up the sherry used. Sounds fascinating!
Did you know that I am blogging again? Please stop by and say hi!
Yvonne

Tricia @ saving room for dessert said...

I was giggling about your socks - so funny! But with such a great endorsement this is going on my list of "must make soon" dishes. Have a great weekend!

Linda A. Thompson Ditch said...

Very interesting recipe. I'm like you...it's not one I would normally consider making, but you've changed my mind. Best of all, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand! Thanks for sharing.

Susan Lindquist said...

This is such a delicate treatment for pork ... and so perfect with brilliant Spring colors of spinach and strawberries ... another wonderful post on another brilliant chef, Mary!

Shu Han said...

thanks for the heads up about elena. she's most definitely an inspiration to us all! this is the first tiem I've heard of braising something in milk,I imagine it to be really rich yet tender. lovely idea, thanks so much for sharing this!!

Veronica Gantley said...

I thought about doing this except the salad porton. I was looking for some meatless recipes from the sparce amount of info I got off line. Your tenderloin looks great. I may have to give it a try after Lent. Thanks for sharing with us.

Grubarazzi said...

This really does sound amazing. Do you think I could make this dish without strawberries? Would another berry do the trick? Maybe blueberries...

Pam said...

What an interesting way to cook the pork... I've never braised it in milk before. The whole meal looks wonderful.

Barbara said...

A lovely salad, Mary, and beautifully presented. I love your raves about it... socks et al...which makes me want to try it ASAP.

Heather @girlichef.com said...

This sounds like it would make a fantastic meal. I'm loving this salad and thinking I may have to make it or one like it for Easter.

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey said...

I also loved your socks going up and down! You are funny! This lady you are talking about sounds extremely interesting and I have made a mental note to find out more about her. I have a pork fillet in the freezer so this may be just the recipe I have been waiting for! Thank you so much.

Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits said...

What a beautiful tribute to Elena. You always find things to say that surprise me. I will bookmark this one. I'm taking your word that it's delicous. It sounds like it.

Gerlinde in Dallas said...

Your pork tenderloin looks mouth-watering!

Kathy said...

Mary, Your tribute to Elena is lovely. I was not able to get this one done. Pork braised in milk with spinach strawberry salad….sounds so intriguing! I will have to give this one a try!

Clint said...

Lord have mercy. This is a man's dish and this is a woman's dish. That pork looks just incredible. Of course, I would have to have a side of mashed potatoes with it, but that's just me.

StephenC said...

Stunning recipe. And, by the way, how often do you need to buy new socks?

Lyndsey said...

I admire all these women that made this list. With an endorsement like you gave it, how can I not make this. I adore pork tenderloin, and actually have tarragon mustard. It sure makes for a beautiful plate.

Thanks for sharing and have a beautiful weekend Mary!

LaMagicaZucca said...

Un piatto da vero chef..complimenti!!

Jill Mant~a SaucyCook said...

Mary, the visual of your socks going up and down is one which will stay with me forever!!! I love this recipe, so simple as far as the components, yet so unique (at least to me) in the preparation. I am so impressed with the depth of information you were able to find and share with us regarding Elena. I found it difficult to find many articles that didn't link her with her famous dad. I did enjoy watching them go to the market together though!! Thanks for welcoming me into the group so warmly. And speaking of warm, I hope you are enjoying the sunshine and mild temps that we are here in Colorado.

Jeanette said...

Such an interesting recipe - so glad it was a winner. Loved learning about Elena Arzak from your write-up.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Mary, I have everything to make this recipe except the sage. It sounds delicious and I can't wait to try it as soon as I buy sage. I have one question, sometimes milk curdles when cooking. Did that happen with this recipe?

Joanne said...

Pork and strawberries are two things I would not have paired together, but I'm definitely intrigued!

Rosita Vargas said...

CombinaciĆ³n muy buena un perfecto solomillo con una crema estupenda,de lujo,abrazos y abrazos.

Miranda said...

Your pork looks like it was braised perfectly and with such a raving review, I will have to try it!

http://platanosmangoes.com said...

Perfection on a plate...

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