When I was away for university, I usually had four kinds of meat on hand - chicken thighs, ground beef, fish and frozen shrimp. Occasionally I would spice things up with some sausage or roast chicken and I would cook up a turkey for Thanksgiving, but looking back, there isn't very much in my "meat" repertoire (which, in some ways, may be a good thing.)
I make a lot of meal plans at work and sometimes I will put in recipes that look good both in terms of numbers and taste, but I can't really vouch for the latter because I haven't tried them. My new man seems to have figured out that I'm really a cheap date and am just as happy cooking with him as I would be out being wined and dined somewhere (thus the increasingly inconsistent Chow Down in Cowtown updates - sorry, folks!), so now that I have a kitchen to play in almost every weekend (with a guy who loves taking photos at least as much as I do) I figure it's high time to try some of these recipes out.
I like to get a lot of my recipes for work from EatingWell magazine; all of the relevant nutrition info is right there (though there is usually some discrepancy between our calculations - different databases probably) and they're usually pretty good about reining in the sodium, which I find is still a bit of an issue in some of the other "healthy eating" magazines out there. Of course, the food in there isn't "diet food" and the photos in the magazine are always enticing.
Interestingly enough, pork is one of those few things in life that my mom admits to being unsuccessful at - I don't know if it's the cut she buys, the way she prepares it, or the fact that my siblings don't seem to like it anyway, but aside from ground pork in "Chinese meat loaf"（蒸肉餅） or sliced pork in random stir-fries and soups, we rarely see pork on the menu at my house.
Here, I think B. and I have it figured out - we rubbed it with some S&P, browned it in an ovenproof skillet and then threw it in the oven. The grape sauce was a little more messy (we managed to wreck a baking sheet with the burning juices - sorry!) but totally worth it - it has a bit of sweetness (obviously), but tasted to me more like a gravy with the savoriness coming from the chicken broth and the distinct flavour of thyme. B. found the sauce a little too thick so I said next time we could use less cornstarch or cut it out altogether. The next morning I found the recipe on the kitchen counter with a little note scrawled next to the word "cornstarch" saying something along the lines of "use less for a thinner sauce" - awww, too cute.
We also roasted some beets, which don't really require a recipe - peel, trim and quarter them, toss them in a little olive oil and pepper (and salt, I guess) then roast them in a 450°F (230°C) oven until you can pierce through them easily with a fork (about 20-25 min). You can still roast at a lower temperature; the cooking time will just be longer. We had parsley on hand so I chopped some up and tossed those together with the cooked beets, but I think any herb will do. I also like my beets with chevre and B. had some goat's feta on hand, which was pretty good too.
Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Grape Sauce
*Madeira is a sweet Portuguese dessert wine that you should be able to find in the liquor store. It goes well with brie.
- 4 cups (1 L) red and/or green grapes
- 1 - 1¼ lb (450 - 565 g) pork tenderloin, boneless, trimmed
- ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
- ½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped shallots
- ½ cup (125 mL) Madeira* or sweet white wine
- ½ cup (125 mL) reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried
- 2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp (10 mL) water
- 1½ tsp (7 mL) cornstarch
Nutrition Info (per serving, or ¼ recipe): 295 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 92 mg cholesterol, 23 g carbohydrate (1 g fibre, 15 g sugar), 31 g protein, 465 mg sodium. An excellent source of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese and selenium. A good source of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), iron and magnesium.
- Position racks in the middle and lower third of oven; preheat to 425°F (220°C).
- Place grapes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast on the lower rack, shaking the pan occasionally to turn the grapes, until they are shriveled, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rub pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn the pork over and transfer the pan to the top oven rack. Roast the pork until just barely pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F (63°C), 12 to 14 minutes. (Watch the clock or your pork will become tough!) Transfer the pork to a cutting board to rest before slicing.
- Place the pan over medium heat (use caution, the handle will be hot), add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add Madeira (or wine) and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in broth, thyme and mustard; bring to a simmer. Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir into the pan sauce. Cook until thickened, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the grapes. Serve the sliced pork with the grape sauce.