As such, into Epicurious, I typed "tamarind," hit enter and hoped for inspiration. It yielded this.
I should probably further qualify this recipe in that I just returned from a week in Mexico, followed by a flight delay in San Fran, an unexpected overnight stay, a reroute through Denver and a happy return home about 16 hours later than anticipated. Consequently, I had no groceries. At least nothing fresh (as sourly evidenced by the bit of buttermilk that I forgot about but was promptly reminded of when I opened the fridge to assess the situation). I also had no energy for a trip to the store but had *brilliantly* invited my Mom for dinner. All that aside, I do have a reasonably stocked pantry and a too full freezer... out comes a pork tenderloin and a can of crushed tomatoes.
Bastardized Tamarind Recado
1 pork tenderloin (or meat of choice)
10+ tamarind pods (or tamarind paste)
1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes
3 chipotle peppers
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
2 teaspoons cinnamon
salt + pepper
If you are going to make the paste yourself, then you have a scant bit of prep work to do. This was the first time that I have made tamarind paste and it really was manageable. All you have to do is peel the tamarind (removing the dry pod/casing). Put the sticky pulpy "fruit" into a pot and just cover with water. Simmer, covered, until quite tender and the pulp begins to pull away from the seeds. Run through a sieve and, tah-dah!, you have your tamarind paste.
My roughly 10 pods yielded about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of paste, which was more than enough for this dish. If you make more though, you can use it to glaze shrimp (just thin it out slightly) or maybe add it to a stirfry for that extra sweet-sour layer of flavour.
Choose a pan/pot that is large enough to brown the tenderloin but will fit the sauce too... Heat a few teaspoons of oil and brown all sides of the lightly seasoned (salt + pepper) tenderloin. Remove the tenderloin and set aside.
Warm the oven to 375 F.
Finely chop or process your chipotle peppers. I used three but use as few or many as your tastes dictate. (One side note: I warmed some recado for dinner tonight and it seemed to get slightly spicier as it sat... much like a stew gets better with time. Just something to consider when spicing.) Add the chipotles to the pot and just begin their cooking process. As they start to cook, the air will fill with that peppery heat. Then your garlic and onion. Soften the onion. Then add your can of tomatoes. Add the cinnamon. Stir together then let it cook for a few moments before you add the tenderloin back in.
Put in the oven. Cook until meat reaches roughly 165-170 F on the meat thermometer. This will take roughly an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the thickness of the meat. Remove from the oven, cover and let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing... otherwise, enjoy your dry-as-toast pork.
(Because I was intending to eat this as leftovers and didn't want to have bricks of pork after the microwave reheating, I cooked the tenderloing to just 165 F. The ends were cooked perfectly and this is what we ate for this first dinner. The centre was cooked but only just, which left enough juice in it to keep it palatable upon reheating.)
Serve with rice and avocado slices (Mom's suggestion and a nice contrast to the heat)... and maybe some sour cream or the like.
Today's cooking music... honestly, the sound of silence. After a week and a half away, I just wanted to hear the sounds of my home. :)