This dinner shows what you can do when you have to use what is in the kitchen...after a long day at work, I didn't feel like shopping for produce, and had to use what was available, which wasn't much. There was some leftover blue cheese mashed potato, which I turned into potato cakes. A medley of vegetables...broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, carrots and red pepper made good use of the small amounts of each that were in the fridge.
I used some pumpkin seeds and breadcrumbs to crust the pork tenderloin, adding some chipotle pepper for heat and searing it in a really hot pan before roasting it, which gave a crunchy outside and juicy inside, with a hint of heat from the chipotle peppers. This balanced well with the blue cheese that was in the mashed potatoes.
Place the leftover mashed potatoes into a bowl. Add:
2 green onions, finely chopped
a pinch of salt and pepper
Mix to combine, and add in:
1/4 cup flour.
Mix to make a soft dough.
On a plate, combine:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon dried chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Using an ice cream scoop, place balls of potato dough onto the plate of spiced flour.
Gently press the balls down to form cakes, making sure both sides are coated with the flour.
Heat the oven to 375F. Have a baking sheet ready for the potato cakes. Heat a non stick frying pan, and add some olive oil.
Cook the potato cakes until both sides are golden brown and crispy, placing them onto the baking sheet when they are done.
Place the potato cakes into the oven and bake alongside the pork.
To make the crust for the pork, grind:
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
On another plate, whisk:
Juice of 1 lime
Cut the pork tenderloin into 3 equal sized portions.
Using the flour leftover from coating the potato pancakes, set up a breading line for the pork.
First coat each piece in the flour, then into the egg wash and lastly into the pumpkin seed-breadcrumb mixture, making sure each piece of meat is well coated.
In a very hot pan, using some olive oil, sear the pork on all sides, creating a crispy golden crust.
Immediately place the pork into the oven to finish cooking.
Remove the pork from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving it.
- Leftover mashed potato that is thicker rather than loose and creamy works best for the cakes. If the potato you are using is looser, either omit the egg entirely, or use only the yolk. Chill the dough well before forming and cooking the cakes.
- Mashed sweet potatoes, yams, butternut squash or parsnips could also be used.
- By adding chopped fresh herbs or grated cheese to the potato you will elevate the flavour of your leftover potatoes.
- Spices added to the flour can also add a lot to the pancake. Try smoked or sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, onion or garlic powder.
- If you wish to add crunch to the potato cakes use breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs or cornmeal to coat the potatoes before pan frying them.
- I chose to cut the pork into individual portion sizes before crusting it, as I wanted everyone to get as much of the spicy, crunchy crust as possible. I was cooking for 3, but this recipe can be multiplied to suit the number of people you are feeding.
- The pumpkin seeds can be changed to any type of nut or seed you like...pecans, peanuts, cashews, sesame seeds. If you are using smaller seeds such as sesame seeds, be aware that they will burn easily and would be better off going straight into the oven to roast.
- I usually use milk with the eggs when I am breading, but saw half a lime in the fridge and used the juice from that instead. Next time I would add some lime zest to the egg wash to emphasize the lime flavour, which is a nice contrast to the heat of the chipotle peppers.
- To increase the heat and flavour of the chipotle peppers, add some of the adobo sauce from canned chilies to the egg wash.
- Instead of pork tenderloin try boneless pork chops, chicken breasts, veal cutlets, turkey breast fillets, halibut or salmon.
- The pork can be crusted ahead of time, and kept in the fridge, or it can be frozen, well wrapped, until needed. The potato cakes can be made ahead and kept in the fridge before coating with flour and cooking; they do not freeze well. Potatoes develop a rubbery texture when frozen, and I have found that mashed potatoes tend to release a lot of liquid and develop an unappealing texture.
- Leftover pork, if you have any, can be used in sandwhiches or wraps, added to salads or risotto.