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
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
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.