Recipe Elevation (or fiddling with ingredients)

It is a known fact that most cooks fiddle with ingredients when duplicating recipes they have chosen to make.  Just read any online review of the many available recipes and what you’ll find is:  “I didn’t have XX and YY so I used OO and PP!”  My favorites are when they admit this and then claim the recipe was lousy and won’t make it again.  Uh, maybe you should try the recipe as written and then you are qualified to say you won’t make it again!

There are substitutions and then there are flavor changes!  If you use Vermouth in place of White Wine to deglaze the pan in a cooking step, not much difference would be detected, however, if the recipe calls for eggplant and you use canned corn it’s no longer the same recipe!  Just as using Vermouth for White Wine in a White Wine Spritzer would be a different drink altogether! (BTW ugh!)

Some confess to “tweaking” a recipe like doubling the amount of chili powder because they like things hotter, or reducing the amount of salt added to control sodium intake.  On a cooking forum that I follow and sometimes contribute to, one of the moderators has used a phrase so often it has become a verb in many recipe reviews, she says “I madmommed the recipe by adding XXX and leaving out YYY.”  Now anytime anyone changes the original ingredients they say: “I madmommed”.  And often you’ll see the next person to comment “madmommed the madmomming”!  This is always done in good spirit to offer suggestions of how to personalize the original recipe.

Again, using red bell pepper in place of green bell pepper not a major adjustment but using Shrimp in place of Beef Stew Meat…is enough to call it a different recipe.  Rant over!

But today, I’m here to explain how I elevated a recipe and morphed the result into something I consider to be way better than the original, but yet, I realize there could be those who would be happy with the original.

The original recipe is a very basic, simple Crockpot recipe and intentionally quick and easy so that it could be thrown together on the way out the door, to return to enjoy later.


  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 dash garlic powder

Season pork with salt and peper, place in slow cooker.  Combine remaining ingredients pour over pork, turning to coat all sides.  Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours on Low or 3 1/2 to 4 hours on High.

My elevation:


  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Penzey’s Greek Sesaoning
  • 1 large shallot sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used a Balsamico Kalamata Olive Mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 large clove of garlic roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Season pork tenderloin with salt, pepper, Greek seasoning.  Brown on all sides in olive oil.  Move to slow cooker.  Mix all remaining ingredients and pour over pork.  Turn pork to coat all sides.  I believe my slow cooker runs hot, so I cooked it on High for 1 1/2 hours and Low for 1 hour and turned the pork once.  Remove the pork from the pot and turn it back to High.  Let pork rest 10 minutes and then shred and return to the pot for 5 minutes.  Serve on your favorite toasted roll, Ciabatta rolls are great for this.

Once, long ago, I made the original recipe and it was certainly edible if not a little dry and overcooked.  My intention here was to enhance the flavor profile and create something better.  I will probably serve this on toasted rolls with Tzatziki and a side of Broccoli Slaw.

So go ahead and elevate your recipes, play with flavors and expand your repertoire.

Eat Well…Be Well!

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2 Responses to Recipe Elevation (or fiddling with ingredients)

  1. chefpiperwilder says:

    Jim as always you are generous with your playtime in the kitchen…Does this mean we all should run out and get a slow cooker now….wow never used one but this sounds magnifique! Question..I noticed you did not brine the pork tenderloin…that is because the slow cooker breaks it down so more tender? Ya and it’s shredded so just sounds YUMMY…Def will try out soon!!


    • Chef Jim says:

      Piper, yes you are correct it isn’t necessary to brine the pork tenderloin since the acidic values of the sauce tenderize the meat so much during the slow cooking process. I also make a mean BBQ Pulled Chicken from boneless skinless thighs in the crock pot as well!


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