Thursday, December 10, 2009


It's so cold these last couple of weeks, it's crazy. Not being a Holland native it's kind of difficult getting used to. My mediterranean blood yearns for some rays of sun and a little bit of warmth. I bet any expat from my side of the woods will have sympathy for me.
But hey, I'm not complaining. I actually like the crisp wind on my face... as long as I can feel my face afterwards. Well it surely wakes you up though! Yesterday I went shopping on the cold streets of The Hague and I was so alert it was kind of bad for my wallet. No bargain sale escaped me! And as you can imagine, I shopped around at my favorite cook shops as well. My best find? The Microplane zester. A bit pricy and maybe I didn't actually need it but I thought I'd indulge myself. I can't help it, I love my kitchen gadgets.

Now, with this kind of introduction I bet you thought a soup was coming up. But no, no soup from me today. I think I have something more interesting for you and a little bit more gratifying.
Fillet of pork, colorful bell peppers, the world's most expensive spice - saffron. How does that sound? Fillet is one of the best cuts of pork and saffron is one of the best spices. So how can one go wrong with this combination? The bell peppers and tomatoes provide sweetness and take away some of the bitterness of the saffron, whereas the luxurious saffron lends its beautiful color to the whole dish. It's a wonderfully tasty and healthy dinner option, special enough for company. You can serve it alongside a bowl of brown rice and make sure you have an ever so slightly chilled bottle of young Beaujolais to pair the dish with.

Pork fillet with Bell Peppers and Saffron

You can use either saffron threads or powder for this recipe. Saffron threads have a more powerful and richer taste than powdered saffron but they need to be soaked in water in order to release their flavor. Powdered saffron dissolves easily in foods.

Yield: 4 servings

500 g pork fillet, cut into small cubes
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 large tomatoes, sliced
3 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
10-12 saffron threads or a dash (1/16 tsp) of saffron powder
1 Tbsp hot water
4 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

If you're using saffron threads place them in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them. Soak the threads for 20 minutes before starting to cook the dish. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork pieces and brown them lightly. Remove them from the pan and add the green onions and bell peppers and sauté lightly. Return the pork to the pan and add the tomatoes, the water with the soaked saffron or the saffron powder if that's what you're using, salt and pepper. Stir everything around so that the ingredients get mixed together, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the meat is almost cooked. During this time the vegetables will release their water thus flavoring the meat along with the saffron. Remove the lid, turn heat up to medium and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (you don't want the meat to be completely dry). Remove from heat, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.


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