Blackberry Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

Sticky sweet hoisin and blackberry jam are a perfect match. Add some tangy rice wine vinegar, fragrant sesame oil and a little chili garlic sauce for heat and you've got a winner of a recipe. Reserve a smidgen of the marinade to sauce the pork tenderloin at the end. 

blackberry hoisin pork tenderloin

Blackberry Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce

  • 1/4 cup seedless blackberry jam

  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (or more, to taste)

  • 2 garlic cloves minced

  • 1/4 inch ginger, finely grated or minced

  • 1 1lb pork tenderloin, silver skin removed

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

Mix together the first 8 ingredients. Reserve and refrigerate 1/4 cup of marinade. In a ziploc bag cover the pork tenderloin with marinade and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Preheat a cast iron grill pan over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Remove tenderloin from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Add vegetable oil to cast iron grill pan and sear tenderloin on 4-5 minutes a side. Finish the tenderloin in the oven for 10-15 minutes until meat registers 145 F. Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice tenderloin in 1/2 inch slices and finish with reserved marinade. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

I like to serve this juicy pork with jasmine rice and sugar snaps. 

Chili Garlic Sauce adds heat to this blackberry hoisin pork tenderloin.

Chili Garlic Sauce adds heat to this blackberry hoisin pork tenderloin.

Southern Italian Chicken Thighs

My go-to dinner at least once a week = chicken thighs. I usually marinate them in Trader Joe's Soyaki, or make St. Claire's chicken, a family favorite. But, they lend themselves to other big, bold flavors like briny olives and fire-roasted tomatoes. For you low-carb'ers, serve these over a bed of lightly dressed arugula. For you carb-lovers, a bed of linguine will serve as a delicious bed for all the juices. 

I used Cabot sharp cheddar for the recipe because it is naturally lactose free, yes, you heard me right, it's lactose free! Cheddar is obviously not Italian, so feel free to substitute a fresh mozzerella or an aged Parmesan or Pecorino Romano in its place.

southern Italian Chicken Thighs

Southern Italian Chicken Thighs

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup shredded Cabot Cheddar
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, herbs de provence, salt and pepper. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, spread out the chicken thighs and drizzle with olive oil and evenly sprinkle on the spice mixture, flip and repeat.

Evenly spread out the minced garlic, sliced shallots, olives, canned tomatoes, and cheese. Add the white wine without disturbing the ingredients. On the middle rack, bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and adjust rack higher for broiling. Broil the chicken for 8-10 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve over a bed of pasta or lightly dressed arugula. Alternately, it would make an awesome sandwich on a crunchy Italian loaf.

The seasoned chicken thighs headed into a hot oven!

The seasoned chicken thighs headed into a hot oven!

Restaurant Review: Universal Joint

In an email last week, my brother asked me for a list of my "Must Go to Restaurants and Bars in Asheville". I was happy to oblige the request. In and among the list was one of my favorite/easy/cheap dinner places the Universal Joint in West Asheville.

It's got a lot going for it:

  • located in hip West Asheville
  • lots of outdoor seating
  • you can bring your (well-behaved) dog
  • FAMILY friendly (really and truly)
  • best burger in town 
  • they have tater-tots
Steinbeck Burger sans bun with pimiento cheese, bacon and jalapenos

Steinbeck Burger sans bun with pimiento cheese, bacon and jalapenos

What to order when you get there?

I'd get a local beer, Highland Brewing's Gaelic Ale is almost always on tap. Get the burger or the brisket tacos. They have creative burger toppings, but you can't go wrong with the classic. I usually end up getting the Steinbeck with pimiento cheese, jalapenos and bacon. You can get a side salad with your burger, but since I almost always skip the bun, I often splurge on their perfectly fried tater tots. And, they're not afraid to give you mayo to dip them in!

They're kids menu is good, they do these mini cheeseburgers (sliders) which my son really likes. But, they also have a quesadilla, corn puppies, chicken fingers and a grilled cheese. The food comes quickly for the whole party, but especially for the kids. 

Service, generally, is very good. The servers know the beer list and the menu very well. They're prompt and polite, but informal. 

Bottom line, this is a great restaurant to add to your list of places to eat in Asheville. You won't be disappointed.