Pork Tenderloin with Sage-Lemon Vinaigrette Sauce

Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite weekday meal staples because it’s super easy to cook, as lean as white meat chicken and versatile.  I usually broil it, but on warm nights, it does great on the grill too. Pork tenderloins are really easy to cook, but they can serve a lot of people – so this is a great “company is coming” dinner.  Perfect for the holiday season!  (Even better: it’s really easy.)    I wanted to do something to spruce it up a little bit and so I started looking up some various sauces that I could add.  I came across this one, which was adapted from Bobby Flay’s Grilling for Life cookbook. 

I didn’t follow the recipe to a T (surprise, surprise) but I followed the idea of the recipe pretty closely.  I didn’t have any shallots so I skipped that, and I only had lemon juice from the jar so there was no zest either.  But, despite those missing elements and my propensity to pour without measuring, the sauce was DELICOIUS!  It added just the right element of fancy to our broiled tenderloin.

This would be a meal you could easily whip up for dinner guests, and the sauce adds just the extra degree of “oh la la” without too much extra effort.  I paired our pork tenderloin with local green beans sautéed in olive oil,  brown rice simmered in low-sodium chicken broth and green salads.  The whole thing took about fifteen minutes to pull together.  Who says eating healthy has to be hard work? 

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The next day, with our leftover pork, I made one of my all-time FAVORITE sandwiches: Cuban Sandwiches.  My mom made these a few times when i was growing up, and I was always so fascinated by how she smashed together the sandwiches before cooking them.  And the taste!  I love the combination of the sweet ham with the salty pickles.  The best one I ever had was in a little restaurant on the Baltimore waterfront called Little Havana.  I know mine wouldn’t quite compare, but making them at home is easy and a great way to use pork leftovers.

I thinly sliced the leftover pork and also used thinly sliced deli ham.  I layered both of those on a crusty sourdough bread slathered with mustard.  On top of the meats went a slice of Swiss cheese and 2 pickles.  (The pickles are the key elements – don’t skip these!!)  I wrapped the sandwiches in foil, and put them on a cookie sheet with a cast iron skillet on top to squish.  When it was time to cook them, I placed them on my grill pan with the iron skillet on top to keep them smushed. 

THEY were delicious.  I do have to confess to you thought that not every adventure in my kitchen is a succesful one.  My plan was to serve the Cuban sandwiches along with a Black Bean Soup.  I saw a recipe in Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill cookbook that looked really good and was super excited.  I love black beans, I love soup and the recipe looked pretty straightforward. 

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It was fairly labor intensive, starting with soaking the dry beans to roasting the jalapeno peppers. 

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It also called for cooking with wine.  I love cooking with wine.  Sometimes, I even add it to the recipe.

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In the stockpot, garlic and olive oil simmer together happily before onions and carrots join the fun.  Then the wine gets added in, the chicken stock gets added and the black beans go in and bubble away for about 90 minutes. 

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Well, I don’t even know if I’ll go into all the details… because the end result was so disappointing.  Truth be told, I’m sure it’s something I did… Bobby Flay seems to know what he’s doing in the kitchen!  My only guess is that even though the recipe said simmer for 60-90 minutes, that I should have let it go longer.  Bobby’s soup looked creamy and thick, mine was … not.  The texture was weird, and it was a bit watery.  Although I paired the soup with the Cuban sandwiches, there were no clean bowls in this house. 

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Afterwards, I ended up pureeing the soup and ate it this way.  (If anyone wants some pureed black bean soup… please come visit my lovely, stocked freezer.)

S othis is the truth about kitchen experiments: you win some, you lose some.  The pork tenderloin sauce experiment was quite successful, the black bean soup… not so much.  Oh well!

Feel free to leave me any thoughts about how I might redeem the black bean soup recipe should I try it again.  (Bobby, are you out there?  Help!!)

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Pork with Peanut Sauce

July 12, 2009

Eating healthy usually means eating a lot of chicken – so to change it up, I try to include at least one pork recipe each week. Pork tenderloin is a super lean choice: 3 oz of lean pork tenderloin is 140 calories. Exactly the same as 3 oz of boneless, skinless chicken breast! The key to yummy pork is pairing it with some super savory flavors.

One of my favorite dishes are Thai-inspired dishes that feature peanut sauce. Yum, yum, yum. However, as you can imagine, a sauce that basically stars peanut butter can be prettttty caloric. You know of course, if I’m telling you about it, that I’ve messed with some recipe out there to tweak the calories. This recipe started out as the recipe from Everyday Food (a favorite of mine), before I started playing with it.

The fixins'

The fixins'

Gather the ingredients: creamy peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and chili powder.
Into the blender or food processor: 1/4 cup smooth pb, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 t brown sugar, 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1 clove of garlic and a few shakes of ginger.

Blended Peanut Sauce

Blended Peanut Sauce

This makes about 6 2-Tablespoon servings, which is plenty to drizzle on top of your meat. Each serving of the sauce is 80 calories – not bad for a peanut sauce, at all! You don’t have to heat it, and it’ll stay in the fridge if you’ve got leftovers.

Once that’s all blended, put the pork on a grill pan or in a fry pan with some cooking spray and get some stir-fry veggies sizzling in another pan with a little bit of olive oil or sesame oil. Once the hot stuff is ready to go, just load up on a plate and drizzle 2-T of the peanutty sauce on top and gobble it up! Yum!

Pork with Peanut Sauce

Pork with Peanut Sauce