Salmon en croute is a fairly popular dish and this recipe is simply a variation on the theme. The traditional dish will see salmon and a smooth pate - such as a mushroom duxelles more commonly found in beef wellington - encased in puff pastry and baked in the oven. By the time the pastry is crisp and golden, the salmon is cooked to perfection and beautifully flavored by the pate. The spicy pate used in this instance is infinitely variable and experimentation with your own favorite ingredients is entirely possible.
Do note that only pork tenderloin should be used in this recipe and that other cuts of pork are unlikely to be suitable. They would not cook properly in the timescales involved and would be either under cooked or so tough as to be inedible. If looking for ideas for other meats to try cooking in this way, turkey or chicken breast fillets both work very well, as would beef fillet steak.
Ingredients (Serves 1)
- 1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped in to one inch chunks
- 6 inch (approximately) piece of pork tenderloin fillet
- 2 teaspoons diced mixed bell pepper slices
- 1 pineapple ring (canned in own juice), finely diced
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and grated or very finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for frying
- Smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- ¼ pound puff pastry
- Flour for rolling pastry
- 1 small egg, beaten, to glaze pastry
- 6 snowpeas (mangetout), halved
The first step is to cook the potato by boiling and subsequently allowing it to cool. Put the chunks in to a large pot of cold water and season with a little salt. Put the pot on to a high heat until the water reaches a boil before reducing the heat and simmering for about fifteen minutes or so until the potato pieces are just cooked and softened. Drain through a colander or sieve at your sink and leave for a few minutes to steam off and dry out. Cover and leave for a minimum half hour to completely cool while you prepare and cook the pork element of the dish.
If like me you have to buy a whole half section of pork tenderloin and cut it to size, try to do so that it is of both uniform width and thickness, though this won't always be possible. The next step it to carefully scrape any remaining blue tinged skin from the fillet with a very sharp knife. Alternatively, you can sometimes simply peel it off with your fingers if you find this easier.
Cut along the length of the fillet, going about two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through, to open up a cavity for the filling. Take your time doing this and remember to always move the knife away from your fingers and your body. Do be very careful not to cut all the way through the fillet.
The peppers I used here came from a small pack of mixed bell pepper slices which I bought in my local supermarket. If you can't get such a pack, you can simply cut small segments from whole red, yellow and green peppers and dice. Add the peppers, pineapple and garlic to a small bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt, pepper and paprika and stir well.
Scatter a clean, dry surface with some flour and roll out the pastry to a size that will allow you to lay the pork fillet on one half with a border of around one inch around three sides, as seen in the above picture. Lay the fillet on one half of the pastry and use a teaspoon to carefully fill the cavity with your salsa preparation. Do be careful not to overfill as this could cause your pastry to burst open in the oven.
Use a small pastry brush to glaze the pastry around the edges of the fillet with the beaten egg. Fold the empty half of the pastry over the top of the pork, smoothing it over the pork, and carefully crimp the edges around the three open sides. Leave the parcel sat on the surface for the pastry to rest while your oven preheats to 450F/220C/Gas Mark 8.
Lightly oil a baking sheet or tray and lift on the pork parcel. Glaze all exposed areas with more beaten egg. With a sharp knife, make a few cuts across the top of the pastry, trying not to score in to the meat. This is essential to allow steam to escape in the oven. Cook in the hot oven for twenty minutes, by which time the pastry should be beautifully risen and golden.
When the pork is removed from the oven, as with any other type of meat, it is essential to let it rest before it is served or it will be tough. With a spatula, lift it to a wire rack and give it ten minutes or so while you prepare the potato and snowpeas accompaniment.
Pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil in to a small, non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a fairly high heat. The potato chunks and snowpea halves should be added and seasoned with some smoked paprika and black pepper. Stir fry with a wooden spoon for three or four minutes until the potatoes are starting to develop a little crispy golden crunch around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat.
Pork fillet en croute with spicy pineapple salsa is served with paprika spiced potatoes and snowpeas
The spatula should be used again to lift the rested fillet to a serving plate before the spicy potato and snowpea combination is spooned alongside for immediate service.