Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Magic and hail and stuff
I tried a recipe a while back that called for marinating pork loin in mustard and herbs and stuff, then roasting. DH and DD despise mustard in all forms, but I figured if they hated it there was always peanut butter and jelly ;). Besides, I love mustard in all forms (except for that odd dark brown sweet mustard. That stuff is gross) and why can't I have a meal I like for once? So I marinated away, and roasted away. Imagine my surprise to find that the meat was meltingly tender, juicy, and tasty but in no way did it taste like mustard. Considering it was coated with the stuff, I was amazed. DH and DD didn't suspect a thing and ate like they hadn't eaten in days, licking fingers and plates and having thirds. Since then I have gotten more brave about adding mustard to things, experimenting with how much cooking and what combinations cause the flavour to be less mustard and more just savoury goodness. My research has revealed that as long as there is no sweetness component, the taste of the mustard does not appear in the finished product, yet there is a flavour component that is sorely missing without it. This was discovered by making side-by-side marinades and coatings, with and without the mustard. And in all cases, the mustard-less version was lacking in tenderness, juicyness, and flavour. Somehow, however, when there is a sweet component it seems to magnify that mustard taste and smell. The only times DH and DD have caught on to my secret and let their displeasure known, were when I tried a sweet and sour mixture and a barbeque style sauce. One contained just a dab of mustard (the sweet and sour) and the other contained more (the bbq. I always put mustard in my bbq sauce and they like it, but this version was from a recipe and it contained little more than ketchup, mustard, a bit of sugar, and pepper). I think they smelled it before they tasted it in both cases, and it set the food up for failure. Last night I tested this again, by mixing dijon mustard with creole seasoning and brushing it straight onto some pork loin chops. The chops were seared well on all sides, then finished off in the oven. Final resting temp? 155 degrees - our preference for pork. I know I know, it can go lower but I don't like the texture of pork when it isn't cooked at least to 150 degrees. Pinkish white is okay, pure white is better, at least I have escaped the legacy of cooking it until it is grey leather. You can't exactly cut it with a fork (and after all, we aren't cave men) but still very tender and juicy. These chops were ridiculously thick. I mean, I probably could have sliced them in half and they still would have been thick. My little tiny daughter at a whole chop when I myself - a full grown woman - could only manage about a half. I guess they were okay ;). I guess mustard is as magical as balsamic vinegar, another ingredient that seems to disappear and turn into something else entirely when cooked. A properly prepared "balsamic chicken" should not be sweet or tangy at all, in my opinion. But rather it should have a complex "savoury" component. Food alchemy, gotta dig it. Last night while preparing dinner, it started raining pretty hard. Then dd announced "Oh. It's hailing". Like it wasn't the first time she had ever seen hail in real life. Sheesh. Shamoo is just a whale, and hail is just hail. These kids see too much on tv, it makes real life events seem boring in comparison.