December 10, 2016 Pinchos Morunos

When Christopher Kimball left Cooks Illustrated to start a new multimedia venture, Milk Street, that includes a website, cooking school, TV and radio show and print magazine I was curious how the new magazine would differ from Cooks Illustrated, the publication he founded over twenty years ago. I have always been a big fan of Cooks Illustrated and have saved every issue since the first one came out in 1993. Could I justify subscribing to one more cooking publication?

The magazines are about the same size, Cooks Illustrated is a tad longer and both are 32 pages long. Both accept no advertising, unless you count the subscription inserts. Cooks Illustrated uses mostly black and white photography and illustration with color photographs of all the finished dishes on the inside back cover. Color photographs abound in Milk Street, though they aren’t the life-sized glamour shots we see on many popular blogs, they are accurate representations of the finished dishes. One thing Milk Street does not have are the wonderful back cover illustrations of John Burgoyne that are a welcome part of each issue. Whether it is a page of eggplant varieties, classic American cookies, crustaceans or heirloom tomatoes I always look forward to seeing his detailed and realistic work. On the other hand, Milk Street has Christopher Kimball’s folksy and entertaining  letters from Vermont.

Commenting on the new publication, Mr Kimball said that Milk Street would bring techniques from the world’s kitchens, focusing on simple dishes with easy to find ingredients. The term, “easy to find” has certainly changed since I started cooking over thirty years ago. The coconut milk and fish sauce I can find on any supermarket shelf now would have taken a special trip to an ethnic market back then. Although that was enjoyable and educational at the time, I appreciate the convenience now.

Looking at a recent issue of Cooks Illustrated I found recipes for shredded tacos, walkaway ratatouille, grilled pizza and paella on the grill, the typical representation of the Americas and western Europe. There is usually one recipe with an Asian influence, in this issue one for Korean fried chicken wings. Milk Street’s inaugural issue reflected the global emphasis they promised with recipes for harissa from north Africa,  pie crust that uses a Japanese baking technique, Chinese white cooked chicken, Thai coleslaw, French carrot salad and the one I chose to make first, Pinchos Morunos.

Pinchos morunos are grilled skewered meat kabobs. A pincho, or pintxo as it is called in Basque country, is a thorn or a spike. This can either refer to the skewer the meat is cooked on or the cocktail pick that is attached to a piece of bread when pinchos are served as part of a tapas menu. Morunos refers to the Moors who influenced Spanish food and culture for centuries. The meat in the original recipe was most likely lamb, the Moors were Muslim and did not eat pork. When the Spanish adopted this recipe, the meat of choice became pork. The meat was tossed with a Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout. The term ras el hanout translates to “head of the shop” and refers to the best spices the shop has to offer. Ras el hanout can have as many as ten spices, this recipe streamlines that number to three, salt and pepper not included.

This version of pinchos morunos eliminates the skewers and brings the meat right to the saute pan. The pork is cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch cubes and tossed with a flavorful spice rub of cumin, coriander and smoked paprika. The cubes of pork are just the right size to absorb the rub and flavor the meat. The meat only needs to sit for about an hour before proceeding with the recipe. While the pork is absorbing the flavor of the spices, mix the garlic, lemon juice and honey in a small bowl.

Place a large skillet over high heat, coat lightly with olive oil and heat until smoking. Add the seasoned pork cubes in one layer and cook without moving for about 3 minutes. You want all of the meat to develop a deep brown crust. Flip the pork with tongs and cook, turning the pieces occasionally as they continue to brown. The additional cooking time is 2-3 minutes, the pork will continue to cook even after you take it off the heat and you don’t want the pork to dry out. While the pork is still hot, pour the garlic, lemon, honey mixture over the meat and garnish with oregano. Serve immediately to optimally appreciate the flavors. You can prep the components of the dish earlier in the day. Cut the meat into cubes, cover with plastic wrap and make the spice blend and lemon honey mixture . An hour before serving, bring the meat out of the fridge and proceed with the recipe.

We have enjoyed this recipe several times for dinner. Serve with rice or couscous and a salad. It would also make a great hors d’oeuvre accompanied with a saffron aioli for dipping.

Pinchos Morunos

Serves 2-3


  • 1½ t ground coriander
  • 1½ t ground cumin
  • 1½ t smoked paprika
  • ¾t each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1 to 1½ inch pieces
  • 1 T lemon juice plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely grated
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T chopped fresh oregano


  1. Combine coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the cubed pork to the bowl and toss to coat thoroughly until no dry rub remains.
  3. Let the pork sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  4. While the pork is sitting at room temperature, combine the lemon juice, honey and garlic in another  bowl.
  5. In a large skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until smoking. Add the meat in a single layer and cook without moving until deeply browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Using tongs flip the meat over and continue to cook until browned on all sides, another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Take meat off the heat and pour the lemon juice and garlic mixture over the meat and toss until evenly coated.  Transfer the meat to a serving platter.
  7. Drizzle  the meat with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with oregano and serve with lemon wedges.

Toss the pork cubes with the spice blend.
Be sure the pork develops a nice crust on the first side.

March 29, 2014 Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Romesco

DSC_6375aLet’s see, it’s salmon on Monday, leftovers on Tuesday, chicken on Wednesday and pork tenderloin shows up on our dinner menu most Thursdays. Boring you say, well it could be, but I am always on the look out for new ways to season and sauce that low fat and easy to cook cut of  “the other white meat.” Pork tenderloin’s mild flavor lends itself nicely as a canvas for many different cuisines.

The most basic pork tenderloin recipe we enjoy is seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with a honey mustard rosemary glaze that is brushed on right before the end of cooking. We often enjoy it “Thai style” borrowing from a dish that I have enjoyed at a local Thai restaurant for many years, pork tenderloin in a spicy peanut sauce over a bed of watercress. Looking through some of the recent recipes from Bon Appetit, pork tenderloin with a carrot Romesco seemed to be quick and intriguing enough to give a try.

I am quite familiar with Romesco, a Spanish sauce of roasted peppers, tomatoes, garlic and almonds and even wrote about it here. Bon Appetit’s new version combined roasted carrots with garlic and pine nuts, definitely stretching the definition of Romesco. It does mimic the rough texture of the classic sauce, reminiscent of pesto. The roasted carrots bring a body and sweetness to the sauce that nicely compliments the pork.

Resist overcooking the pork tenderloin, nothing is worse than dried out pork.  It should still be somewhat pink in color and will be quite juicy. Remember that because of carry over cooking you should take the tenderloin out of the oven when it is 5 to 10 degrees below your desired temperature. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise after it’s taken out of the oven  I don’t know where Bon Appetit finds their pork tenderloins, I have never encountered one that is a pound and a half. Mine were about 3/4lb each, with two to a package.

My local market had beautiful hydroponically grown upland cress, also known as creasy greens in the south. It is a cousin of watercress with dark green heart shaped leaves with a slightly more peppery pungent flavor. I used mine right away but for longer storage could have submerged the root ball in a small container of water and kept it at room temperature for a week. I think that toasted almonds would be a good substitute for the pine nuts. Aleppo pepper adds another dimension to the sauce with it’s rich fruity heat with just a hint of tartness. Would I make this again? A definite yes. The sauce was easy to assemble and soon the carrots and the spicy greens I will be using will be harvested from our garden.




Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Romesco

Serves four

From Bon Appetit Magazine April 2014


  • 1/4c pine nuts
  • 1 1/2 lbs. small carrots, peeled and halved if larger
  • 5T olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 medium pork tenderloins, about 3/4lb each
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper
  • 2T red wine vinegar, divided
  • 2 or more cups spicy greens like cresses or baby mustard greens



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, shaking occasionally until nuts are golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and allow nuts to cool.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 450°F. Toss carrots with 1T oil on another baking sheet, season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until softened and browned, about 15 minutes; let cool slightly.
  3. Pulse pine nuts, garlic and 3T oil in a food processor to a coarse paste. Add Aleppo pepper, one fourth of the carrots, 1T vinegar and 1T water. Process, adding more water as needed to a coarse paste; season romesco with salt, black pepper and more vinegar if desired.
  4. Brush 1T oil in a large ovenproof grill pan over medium high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown grill marks appear on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the skillet to oven and roast pork until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 135°F.Remove pork from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  5. Toss greens with remaining carrots and 1T vinegar in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Serve pork with romesco and salad.