IMG_1642 Peter Kaminsky is a friend and colleague who has co-written another excellent cookbook, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way with Argentinian chef Francis Mallman.  It's all about cooking with fire—a great book for the boys, who as we know are predisposed to playing with fire, and another beautiful production from Artisan; here's a feature in the NYTimes on it.  Peter wrote the excellent Happy in the Kitchen with Michel Richard as well as his excellent Pig Perfect and several books on fly fishing.  I'm pleased to have him here today, talking about grilled steak and a fantastic grilled pork tenderloin with orange confit (my favorite part of the whole preparation).

Skillet Roasted Pork and Thirty Grilled Steaks

by Peter Kaminsky

Having grilled most summer nights since the late 1960's I felt that my skills were pretty decent. Then I met Francis Mallmann, a refugee from the world of haute cuisine (apprenticing with Verge, Trocellier, Oliver and at il Pinchiori in Florence). Francis decided to get back to basic Neanderthal cooking (although served in the elegant and rustic style of Patagonia). I've watched him prepare whole cows, roast salmon for 300, and legs of lamb for 300 … all done perfectly. The recipes that he shared with me in writing our new book taught me that simple food can be as elegant as the most froufrou foie gras and caviar concoctions.SevenFires Jacket

I personally tested our recipe for steak about a gazillion (make that thirty) times.  The steak thing is interesting. I wanted one foolproof thing. Francis and I made them a few times. I went to the Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo, which has fifteen or twenty steak joints. To every one of them I said, "Make me a ribeye." I watched how they salted, felt the heat, and timed them. Then in the states I made them over wood, charcoal, charcoal briquettes, gas-fired barbecue, stove top barbecue, and grill pan. On hot days and cold.

What i found was, that if you follow the one mississippi, two mississippi , three rule (depending on your own nerve endings) it always works. You may need to shave a minute off depending on the wind and weather, but it always works. Good salt crust and uniform color wall to wall.

The pork tenderloin is one to try outside (it's smoky) on a cast iron griddle. I love it because it is so striking and delicious. For so few ingredients it is deeply complex. First the burnt-ness of the sugar (not incinerated just burnt) really punctuates the other flavors. There is a bitter, fruity floral aspect to the orange peel (and its olive oil), and that floral herbal aspect is heigtened by thyme. Then there's that funky thing you get when you bite down on pork, and as you naturally breathe out through your nose, it's a wonderful mix of herbal, floral, meaty.

Pork Tenderloin with Burnt Brown Sugar, Orange Confit, and Thyme
Serves 6

2 boneless pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
6 pieces orange confit, about 2 inches each (see Basics)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon coarse salt (or to taste)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons oil from the orange confit

Lay the pork tenderloins on a work surface. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Tear the orange confit into 1/2 inch pieces and distribute over the top surface of the meat. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme and half the salt. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top and pat it down firmly with your hand. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil from the orange confit.

Preheat the chapa or a large square cast iron griddle over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles.

Using a wide spatula, lift the pork tenderloins one by one and invert them sugar side down onto the griddle. Do not move them for 5 minutes. If the sugar begins to smell unpleasantly burned, adjust the heat by moving the griddle and lowering the flame. When the sugar side is well browned, turn the tenderloins. Cook on all sides for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until done to taste. The internal temperature should be 135 degrees for a rosy pink. Remove the meat to a carving board and allow to rest, tented with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing.

Orange Confit

4 oranges
3 bay leaves
12 whole black peppercorns
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup white wine
2 teaspoons coarse salt

Cut the oranges in half. Squeeze the juice and reserve for another use.

Place the squeezed orange halves in a 3 quart saucepan. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, 3 tablespoons olive oil, white wine and water to cover. Add salt and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until the orange peel is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the liquid.

When cool enough to handle, drain the oranges. Tear the peel into rough strips about 1 inch wide. Place a strip of orange peel skin side down on a work surface and, using a very sharp paring knife, scrape away every bit of the white pith.

Place the strips of orange zest in a bowl and cover completely with extra virgin olive oil. This will keep, covered tightly in the refrigerator, for at least a week.


23 Wonderful responses to “Guest Post: Peter Kaminsky, Seven Fires,
and Pork Tenderloin with Orange Confit”

  • The Yummy Mummy

    This looks beautiful.

    Every Friday over the summer, I go to my husband’s office and make lunch for the staff. This sounds like it’ll be on next week’s menu.


  • luis

    Very good recipe. Worth doing. I happen to have a pork tenderloin I can medallion and give it a go.\ Definitelly big flavor and sugar fat and salt friendly. What’s not to like?. Gosh I don’t need another cookbook but this one might be worth buying. No problem one comes in one goes out…rule applies.

  • NWCajun

    To luis, You’re rule is when a new cookbook comes in, an old one goes out? You are way tougher than me. My rule is, divide the price of the book by $5, then make at least that many recipes from the book. This way the book becomes a $5 ingredient in that many dishes, and pays for its self. But once a cookbook is in my house it stays. I think my wife would like to incorporate your rule.

  • Blogger

    Hold your hand over the cooking element and say “one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi”. It should be hot enough that you have to move your hands by the time you get to three mississippi.

    I’m asking myself: what side dishes would you serve this with?

  • E. Nassar

    I just recieved this book and started flipping through it a couple of days ago (along with Lang’s Serious Barbeque). Awesome stuff. I also picked up a Lodge Pro Grid cast iron griddle to start trying out some recipes. I’m thinking this pork tenderloin recipe is gonna be dinner for Sunday.

  • Alanna

    You’d think that ‘meat’ would most benefit from the charring / fire techniques but so far, our favorites are the vegetables. Charred tomatoes, both big and small? Gorgeous. The stacked ratatouille from last night? Beautiful. Charred red onion slices? Died and gone to heaven.

    This last wasn’t in the book, it’s just that we’ve taken to charring every vegetable we cook. It’s a completely new taste profile. Forget raw! Think FIRE!

  • Walt

    This looks like a book worth having. I love to make paella over an open fire and this will give me motivation to try other recipies.

    But I have to say, the New York Times article mentions a recipe from the book with with the first ingredient listed as:

    “1 medium cow, about 1,400 pounds, butterflied, skin removed.”

    I think this book’s just screaming to be Carol Blymire’s next project.

  • Martha Holmberg

    The confit indeed sounds delicious, but I don’t quite get the method. Is there a benefit to poaching the orange halves with all their pith and stuff still attached? Why not just pare off clean strips of zest and poach them. That way you could use the orange flesh for something if you wanted to , plus it’ll be easier to cut away zest from a whole orange rather than wrangle the scrunched up halves. But maybe there’s some alchemy that happens during simmering? Anyone made this yet?

  • The Italian Dish

    Man, this looks delicious. I definitely want to make the orange confit. I agree with Martha, though, about wondering why to poach the oranges with their pith?

  • tilthouse

    Trying it out now, as written. But I too wonder about the method of preparing the confit.

    Trying out the confit that is. Will use it to make the pork this Sunday.

  • carri

    I made the confit today…used navel oranges because that’s what we had…lots of pith! I cooked them maybe a bit longer than I should have because at peeling time they came apart a bit too easily. I can see where there is more flavor benefit from boiling the whole thing, though I have not tasted the final product. It would be easier to use a sharp peeler and cut slabs of peel off a fresh orange, less likely to get the bitterness, but will it yield the same complex flavor? I will try it another time, tomorrow, I have to make the pork tenderloin after working so hard on this confit! Can’t wait!

  • luis

    NW Cajun, you have to be tough. You have to be tough or diminish the usefulness of your collection.

    All books have nice recipes but some fit my meal rotation and cuisine better than others.

    Some like Keller’s “Under Pressure” are closer to where I want to be but out of reach in terms of kitchen equipment and time etc…Can’t keep them all..
    Some use exotic hard to find ingredients. Others use way too many ingredients to be practical. Others like Alton’s ” I am here for the food are very good but…who wants to stretch the misery of making bread, to making sponges and collecting wild yeasts? and doing overnight rises etc… Not practical. Recipes like that just don’t make the regular meal rotation.
    But they are all fun to read and pass on. I tend to make a lot of the recipes Ruhlman publishes. Unless he is doing classical French or Baconing it up, he has a good eye for a healthy (sugar fat salt) to flavor and health ratio. So does Bittman.

  • Jennifer

    @Martha, I was about to ask the same thing, as otherwise it sounds much like making candied orange peel.

  • Matt

    I’d expect that there’d be quite a bit of flavor still in the cavity of the orange. You could probably supreme the oranges and use the sections for something other than juice and get the same effect out of the ‘scraps’ for the confit.

  • ruhlman

    when i do this, i’m going to cook just slices of zest, maybe add some of the orange juice to the wine and use less oil.

  • ffisher

    I just have to say, Peter’s book “The Moon Pulled up an Acre of Bass” is probably my favorite fly fishing book of all time. It’s great to see him here talking about my other interest.

  • Carol Peterman

    Well, it’s Peter Kaminsky day for me today. I just returned your book The Elements of Taste to the library, and I didn’t want to give it back. This new book looks like another interesting read and great meals.

  • luis

    Got tenderloin…and got orange juice concentrate. This puppy is gonna happen soon. Never mind confit. cup of oil???? oh please!!!!.. but this puppy is happening folks. It will be great!.