What will you make for dinner? Are you tired of asking yourself that question?
You probably have a line-up of go-to quick and easy meals in your wheelhouse. (I’m not really sure what a wheelhouse is, but I keep hearing people talk about them lately, so I’m hopping right on that band wagon. I know what a bandwagon is). This time of year, it’s important to simplify. But sometimes quick, simple and easy isn’t enough. Sometimes you have people over, and you want to offer a meal that’s a cut above the ordinary (in addition to being quick, simple and easy). Roasts generally fit that description. You prepare them, then put them in the oven. What makes pork tenderloin different is that it cooks so quickly--which is a fantastic feature when you don't want to wait all night to eat.
Pork tenderloin is one of those rare foods that looks elegant, tastes great, doesn’t break the bank, and, most importantly, cooks quickly. It’s also versatile. You can add flavor with a marinade, a rub, or a sauce. The seasonings you choose are completely up to you, whether to go savory with rosemary or thyme, or to go sweet with honey and fruit.
On a recent day, I prepared pork tenderloin. More accurately, I prepared four pork tenderloins. I wanted to compare different marinade ingredients and let my family have a little taste test. I tried white wine, orange juice, lime juice, Dijon mustard, rosemary, ginger, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), garlic, chili powder. Don’t panic—I didn’t use them all together. I’ve always liked the flavor of rosemary with pork, and I wasn’t disappointed this time, either. The rosemary dijon marinade was the hands-down winner—everyone liked it the best.
Pork tenderloin also gets along well with other foods. We ate it this time with garlic mashed potatoes and a salad, but you could make rice pilaf and roasted vegetables (dare I suggest parsnips?), or whatever other sides you have a taste for.
The size of pork tenderloins varies. If you’ve never bought them, you should know that most seem to be in the one-pound range, and generally come two to a container. Most of the time, these tenderloins are not identical twins— and since they aren’t exactly the same size, one might cook a bit faster than the other. It’s not a big deal, just something to look out for, because they go from done to overdone quickly.
Many times they are available pre-marinated. While this is certainly an option, and if you’re running in the store to pick up dinner on the way home, it’s a viable one. But if you have the time, it’s worth it to make your own marinade. You’ll get to choose the flavors that you prefer, and as an added bonus you'll control the sodium level—some of those prepackaged marinades have more in common with a salt lick than a sauce.
Put your tenderloins in a container or a gallon-sized plastic bag, with the marinade, in the morning if you can. The longer they can soak in the marinade, the better the flavor. Rotate them a few times during the day if you have the time. By dinner, they will have absorbed the flavors and seasonings and be ready to roast. Before roasting, I seared each side of the tenderloin in medium-high heat, to create a nice crust and seal in the flavor. Searing the edge has the added bonus of starting the cooking process, so it won't take long at all to roast. The ones I made this time roasted for less than half an hour to reach the "safe zone" of 145˚ - 160˚.
So now you know what you'll make for dinner, but as far as dessert...
Rosemary Dijon Pork Tenderloin
½ Cup white wine
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. garlic, minced (or 2-3 cloves)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp salt
2 Pork tenderloins
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine first seven ingredients. Stir or whisk to mix well. Pour over meat and marinate for a few hours, in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 425˚
To sear meat, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil to medium high, in a pan that’s large enough to fit tenderloin. Cook tenderloins, one at a time, for 1-2 minutes per side, or until there’s a nice sear. Move to an oven-safe pan. Roast for 10 minutes, turn tenderloins, and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145˚ - 160˚. Let meat sit for 5 minutes before cutting.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.