Lately I've been trying to expand our culinary experience at home. Every one gets into ruts, and it's easy to just cook the same repertoire of dishes over and over again, but after a while that just gets boring, and the taste buds need a change. Now, I'm not a bad cook, there are just a lot of other things that I would rather be doing than cooking (usually something to do with fiber or beads) and unless you have a really well-stocked larder you need to think ahead about what you're going to cook, and I just haven't gotten into that habit (but I'm trying - on both counts). So last week I decided to try something new.
We had a package of boneless pork tenderloins in the freezer that needed cooking so (thinking ahead) I pulled them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to thaw. On Wednesday I decided that I would cook them, but of course I didn't figure out what the night before (not thinking ahead). On Wednesday I did a quick internet search on one of the many recipe sites and found a recipe that looked pretty easy, and we had all the ingredients (there weren't that many) so we wouldn't have to stop at the store.
Dinner time rolled around and Bruce and I started the prep. The recipe called for potatoes, an onion and a can of tomato soup. It was supposed to be cooked in a casserole dish in the oven. Unfortunately, I don't have a casserole dish (yet, now on the list) so I used a Dutch Oven. The tenderloins (or chops, or chicken breasts) were to be placed in the casserole dish, with the potatoes cut into quarters and placed around them and a slice of onion and some tomato soup (condensed) on each one. Yeah, well, that didn't really happen, and things probably would have turned out better if it had gone as the recipe called for. Instead, everything just went into the Dutch Oven somewhat haphazardly, and the whole thing (covered) went into the oven. Needless to say things didn't really work out quite right.
It took a lot longer for the pork to cook than we thought, and it ended up a bit dry (despite the fact that I used 2 cans of tomato soup - one just didn't seem enough), and the potatoes weren't even close to done. We did eat that night, but we had to nuke some potatoes to make them edible. Not a roaring success. And now I was confronted with the problem of what to do with the leftovers, and there were a lot of leftovers. I put the whole mess, still in the Dutch Oven, in the fridge while I pondered how to salvage the situation.
Last night I tackled the job. First I pulled all of the potatoes out of the pot and put them in a colander and washed the tomato and onion off them, then I did the same thing with the tenderloins and got rid of all the offensive matter in a sealed up plastic bag. The potatoes I put into another plastic bag along with some olive oil and some Italian Dressing. I mixed them up, poured them out into a pan, poured some more olive oil in for good measure and put them in the oven to cook. The pork presented a slightly harder problem - how to reheat it and make it moister. I ended up lining a small cookie sheet with tinfoil, then put the pork and a generous helping of white wine in and folded the tinfoil over the top to seal it all up. The pork went in after the potatoes had been cooking for about 20 minutes, and then 20 minutes after that everything was ready. And everything was quite tasty.
We still have leftovers, but at least they are yummy, and I have salvaged my cooking self-esteem by salvaging the food. I have reasonably good instincts, and I like the idea of becoming a really good cook but there are just so many other things I would rather be doing. But I'm trying (sort of a New Year's Resolution), because I do like to eat good food.