The Missing Ingredient

A Food Blog

Spanish-Style Brine & Rub for Pork Tenderloin with Maduros and Spicy Slaw January 13, 2009


After brining our Thanksgiving turkey, I was hooked on the method.  This book includes several brining recipes for pork and I really wanted to give one a try.  This was fantastic!  If you love pork and intense flavor this recipe is for you!  Think Bobby Flay.   I just love Spanish flavors and this recipe really hits the mark.  I had 2 plantains ripe on the counter and was excited to make Maduros (or fried plantains).  There is a small Peruvian place in the Upper East Side of Manhattan (Pio Pio) that has the best maduros and chicken you will ever eat.  Mine didn’t come out quite as good (but we still ate every last bite so you know this is good!) and I think it was because my oil wasn’t hot enough.  I made a spicy slaw to serve with the pork as well. 

Source:  Bruce Aidells’s Complete Book of Pork; I recently got this book as a gift and it really is a go to book for pork.  My changes are in green.

Spanish Style Brine

3 1/2 cups cold water

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar)

1 cup ice cubes

4 bone-in rib pork chops (about 3 pounds total) 1.5 pound pork tenderloin

1.  Pour the water into a large bowl or plastic storage tub.  Stir in the salt and continue stirring until the salt dissolves.  Stir in the sugar and vinegar and continue stirring until they dissolve.  Add the ice cubes and stir to chill the mixture down.  It should be 45 F or colder on an instant-read thermometer.  Add the pork, cover, and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.  Remove the pork and discard the brine.  Pat dry with paper towels, and either proceed with the recipe or cover with plastic wrap.  The pork can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before being cooked.

Spanish Style Rub

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoons sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar)

1.  Combine all above ingredients.  Coat the brined pork generously on both sides with the rub.  Set the chops aside while you prepare a grill.  

2.  I used a gas grill and cooked the pork uncovered high heat 3 minutes per side (6 minutes total) and then covered for an additional 10 minutes.  Pork reached an internal temperature of 145 F and juices were no longer pink.  

3.  Slice pork and serve with spicy coleslaw, avocados, bell pepper, and maduros (below).



Maduros (Fried plantains)

2 ripe plantains (yellow with some black spotting)

Canola oil

1.  Slice plantains on the bias.   

2.  Heat oil in a small saucepan until very hot.  Oil should reach to top of plantains.  Oil must be very hot or it will soak into the plantains while cooking.  Cook plantains 4 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel to drain.



Spicy Slaw

4-5 cups precut slaw mix

1/2 cup low-fat mayo

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon white sugar

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce 

1 teaspoon Frank’s hot sauce

salt & pepper

1.  Combine first 6 ingredients.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Serve immediately if you prefer a crunchy slaw or chill in refrigerator for a few hours.


Garlic-Chile Wet Paste Marinade August 22, 2008

I only had 30 minutes to marinade and forgot to wipe off the paste.  I used a grill pan indoors.  Pretty good overall.  Changes in green.

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated

6 Tbs. corn or vegetable oil (4 Tbs)

6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (2 Tbs)

2 medium scallions, minced (3 Tbs)

1 medium chipolte chile in adobo sauce, minced (1 Tbs)

1 medium jalapeno chile, minced (1 Tbs)

2 Lb. flank steak, patted dry with paper towels

2 tsp. kosher salt


1.  Puree first 5 ingredients in blender until smooth, scraping down blender as needed.

2.  Place steak on rimmed baking sheet or in large baking dish.  Using a dinner fork, prick stead about 20 times on each side.  Rub both sides of steak evenly with 2 tsp. salt and then with paste.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

3.  Using paper towels, wipe paste off steak; season both sides with pepper.  Grill steak until well browned.


Caribbean Grilled Chicken Kebabs August 17, 2008

Filed under: Chicken,Grilling — xigumdrops @ 4:40 pm
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You can be creative with the veggie/fruit sides with this marinade.  Try red onion, pineapple, red bell pepper, shallots, or peaches.

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

3 cups vegetables and/or fruit (I used 1 large red onion and 1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch chunks, and 1 large peach sliced)

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 recipe caribbean marinade as follows:

Caribbean Marinade:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 Tbs)

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon


1.  Mix marinade and chicken in 1 gallon zip-lock bag; seal and refrigerate, turning once or twice, until chicken has marinated fully, at least 3 and up to 24 hours.

2.  Light grill.

3.  Lightly coat vegetables and/or fruit by tossing in medium bowl with oil and salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Remove chicken chunks from bag; discard marinade.  Use 1 hand to hold 2 skewers about 1/2 inch apart, then thread portion of chicken and vegetables on both skewers at once for easy turning.  Repeat with remaining chicken and vegetables to make 8 sets of double skewers.  I used single wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes.  I also cooked the veggies separately from the chicken in a grill pan.

5.  Grill kebabs, uncovered, turning each kebab one-quarter turn every 2 minutes, until chicken and vegetables and/or fruit are lightly browned and meat is fully cooked, about 9 minutes (or 8 minutes for white meat chicken).  (Lid should be down if cooking with gas.) Check for doneness by cutting into 1 piece when it looks opaque on all sides.  Remove kebabs from grill when there is no pink at center.


Jerk Chicken July 30, 2008

Filed under: Chicken,Grilling,Spicy — xigumdrops @ 9:20 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I didn’t have Scotch bonnet or habanero on hand and substituted 1 huge jalapeno and 1 serrano chile pepper.  It was not hot enough to be called jerk.  Sub 4-6 jalapenos if you can’t find Scott bonnet or habanero.

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated

1 bunch scallions, root ends and tops trimmed, chopped course

2-3 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed.  (Be sure to use gloves or take out your contacts first if you wear them.  Trust me you will thank me later.)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbs. light molasses

1 Tbs. dried thyme

3 medium garlic cloves, peeled

2 tsp. ground allspice

2 tsp. table salt

3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, legs, or breasts, trimmed or excess fat and skin

1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

1.  Puree scallions, chiles, oil, molasses, thyme, garlic, allspice, and salt in blender or food processor until almost smooth, scraping down side if necessary.  Wearing disposable gloves and working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, slide finger between skin and meat to loosen skin, then rub 1 Tbs. spice mixture under skin of each piece and transfer chicken to 1-gallon zip-lock bag.  Pour remaining spice mixture over chicken, seal bag, and turn bag so that chicken pieces are covered with mixture.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 36 hours.

2.  Light grill to build a two-level fire.

3.  Remove chicken from bag and arrange skin-side down over hot side of grill.  Cook chicken until well browned on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to cooler part of grill and continue to cook, turing occasionally, until very dark and fully cooked, 15 to 22 minutes.  Serve with lime wedges.


Cajun Spice Rub July 28, 2008

I love steaks with rubs.  This one works well with chicken or flank steak.  You can either make the entire recipe and have tons of leftovers to store or cut the recipe down to suit your needs.  The recipe makes 1 cup or about enough to cover 16 chicken breasts.

1/2 cup sweet paprika

2 Tbs. kosher salt

2 Tbs. garlic powder

1 Tbs. dried thyme

2 tsp. ground celery seed

2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Store rub in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 months.


1.  Bring steaks to cool room temperature for even cooking.

2.  Rub steaks in mixture covering all sides.

3.  Grill to medium doneness or to your liking.