Jacob Saben, a classically trained violinist and the executive chef at Chicago's newly opened G.e.b. (Graham Elliot Bistro), compares kitchen hierarchies to those of an orchestra, where every player is important. He approaches his plate with the same consideration, in this case balancing a sweet-tea-and-spice-infused pork tenderloin with a spicy pickled-watermelon salad and crisp-fried okra. Serve the dish with a zippy chimichurri for an extra flavor note.
Pork Tenderloin with Fried Okra and Pickled Watermelon
Recipe adapted from Jacob Saben, G.e.b., Chicago
Yield: Serves 4
Cook Time: 35 minutes (plus 1 hour, 10 minutes brining and marinating)
8 cups water, divided
1 cup kosher salt plus extra for seasoning pork
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked
1 tea bag of black tea
One 1¼-pound trimmed pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons rice vinegar
1 small jalapeño, thinly sliced into rounds
2 cups chopped seedless watermelon
¼ cup cornmeal
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons Old Bay spice blend
¼ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika (pimentón)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
12 large okra, stem-end trimmed, halved lengthwise
½ cup buttermilk
3 cups canola oil
1. Brine the pork: Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside. In a medium saucepan set over high heat, bring 4 cups of water, the salt, sugar, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cardamom and tea bag to a boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and into a large bowl. Add 4 cups of cold water to the strained liquid and place the bowl in the ice-water bath to cool the brine. Once it's cool, add the pork tenderloin and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, pickle the watermelon: In a medium bowl, whisk the hot water and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vinegar and jalapeño and steep for 10 minutes. Remove the jalapeño slices. In a large bowl, add the vinegar mixture and watermelon, gently toss to combine and refrigerate for 1 hour.
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