There’s nothing wrong with reheated leftover mashed sweet potatoes. Until you’ve been eating them for 3 days and hardly make a dent in them. I decided they needed to be transformed into something else.
Fortunately, one of the jars on my shelf contains tiny orange lentils, which I hardly ever use but reminded me of the soup I made way back on day 2. So I chopped and sautéed the usual onion-garlic-ginger trio in a little canola oil until it smelled nice, then threw in a small spoonful of curry paste, two handfuls of lentils, a 1L tetra pack of chicken stock and a little extra water, and let it simmer. (The great thing about lentils, besides the fact that they are so good for you, is that you don’t need to pre-soak them like you do other dried legumes.) When they were soft, I scraped the last of the mashed sweet potatoes into the pot, warmed it through and blended it all, right in the pot on the stove, with my hand-held immersion blender. (I’m not the gadgety type, but this is one of the kitchen tools I could not happily live without. I don’t have the patience to transfer hot soup in batches to my blender in order to puree it.)
I wasn’t going to add any coconut milk. It was good on its own. But it needed thinning, and I couldn’t stop imagining how well it would take to some creamy coconut milk. I settled on half a can of light coconut milk, with a drop of coconut extract to boost flavor without adding any more saturated fat.
The soup was tasty, but not quite enough for dinner. Besides, when I cleaned out my freezer yesterday I pulled out a pork tenderloin to thaw, committing myself to do something with it. I haven’t made chipotle pork peanut chili recently, and had also enearthed a few chipotles in a baggie in the freezer (you never use an entire can at once).
I would probably not have called this chili had I come up with it completely on my own. One might argue that this isn’t really chili because it doesn’t contain beans, and I suppose they’d be right. But it was inspired by the Georgia chili in Jane & Michael Stern’s classic cookbook Chili Nation, which doesn’t have beans either, and it still made the cut. Who am I to argue with Jane and Michael?
You start by browning a pork tenderloin, finish it in the oven (browning adds flavor and a crunchy, caramelized exterior), then slice it and stir it into a peanutty tomato sauce that is meanwhile simmering on the stove. (For some reason the spicy peanuttyness of it reminds me of the swimming rama we used to order at Thai Away Home in Vancouver.) Serve it with a spoonful of rice, and dinner’s done in under half an hour.
Chipotle Peanut Pork Chili
1 pork tenderloin
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 14 oz. (398 ml) can diced tomatoes, or 2 fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter, or 3/4 cup plain or salted peanuts
1-2 chipotles en abodo, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin
salt & pepper to taste
steamed rice, to serve with
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Brown the pork tenderloin well in a drizzle of olive or canola oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Pop the skillet in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until just cooked through.
Meanwhile, cook the onion and garlic in another drizzle of oil in a medium pot set over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. If you are using fresh tomatoes, add them and cook for another few minutes, until softened.
Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, peanut butter, chipotles, cumin, and some salt and pepper. If you have whole peanuts or want the chipotles blended completely into the sauce, pulse them along with the tomato sauce in a food processor until smooth, then add to the pot. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Slice the pork tenderloin about 1/4″ thick and add to the pot; serve over rice. Serves 4.
As I was about to make a little pot of basmati rice I remembered the half can of coconut milk leftover from the soup. Perfect! A cup of rice to a cup of coconut milk and a cup of water, and we had coconut rice that, it turns out, was delicious piled into a bowl with the soup ladled overtop. I ended up eating that for dinner, and then a few slices of pork, retrieved straight from the pot with a fork.
April 11 2008 09:42 pm | pork