Friday, March 23, 2012

Pork Tenderloin Agrodolce with Stewed Peppers

Most mornings my husband stands in front of the refrigerator staring at its contents for several minutes.  He's not looking for something for breakfast- he almost never eats breakfast.  Nope, instead he's taking a mental inventory of any containers of leftovers in the fridge.  I think my husband could live for days on nothing but leftovers.  He loves them- breakfast, lunch, midnight snack- anytime is a good time for a good leftover. 

I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite.  Once I finish a meal, I am literally finished with it.  I don't want to revisit it the next day to see how well it's held up in the fridge.  I've moved on to the next great meal and left the old one behind.  Sayonara grilled chicken salad...hello pork tenderloin...
If left to my own devices, I will make just enough for dinner for my family to have one good meal.  But I know that in my house that sort of thinking just doesn't work.  Over the years, I have trained myself to make meals so that there will be enough left for my husband's lunch the next day.  If the pickings are slim, he'll grumble a few frustrated words and unhappily toss something in his bag for lunch.  And lately the pickings have most definitely been slim.  This meal, however, provided me with some much needed leftover relief.  Whew!

Grilled to perfection, with a beautiful mahogany glaze and accompanied by sweet, garlicky peppers, this pork tenderloin is one of my family's favorite dinners.  The best part about it is that buying two tenderloins is still pretty reasonable economically, and it means that I can make enough for dinner and a full leftover lunch the next day.  And these are leftovers that even I don't mind having around.  Of course, I imagine them as something entirely different from the first dinner.  Maybe chopped and stuffed into dough to make empanadas, or sliced thinly and made into a sandwich with some soft goat cheese and some of the leftover stewed peppers, or reinvented as soft tacos, the possibilites are endless.  What would you do with your leftovers?
Pork Tenderloin Agrodolce
Adapted from Saveur Magazine Issue #128.

The beauty in this dish is it's simplicity.  A few ingredients come together to make a dinner greater than the sum of its parts.  I like to butterfly the tenderloin to ensure even cooking.  I've also had great results with bone-in pork chops.

2 pork tenderloins, about 3 lbs total
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbs honey
5 tbs butter
2 sprigs rosemary, cut into 1 inch pieces
salt and pepper

Prepare the tenderloins by trimming any fat and silver skin from the meat.  Using a sharp knife, begin to slice down the length of a tenderloin.  You want to cut the meat so that you open it up like a book, so only cut it about 2/3 of the way through, not all the way.  Repeat with the second tenderloin.  Sprinkle both sides of the meat with salt and pepper and let it sit to come to room temperature.

To make the glaze, stir the balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn don the heat so that it is at a rigorous simmer.  Continue to simmer until you have reduced the volume of the liquid to about 1/3 cup.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and rosemary sprigs.

Prepare your grill so that the heat is at about a medium high.  Lay both tenderloins over the heat and grill for 6-8 minutes per side.  Once you flip the meat over for the second time, brush a generous layer of the glaze over the top.  Let the meat grill for about 2 minutes, then flip and glaze the second side.  Continue glazing and flipping until the meat is cooked through and you have a nice layer of sticky glaze coating the tenderloins (I flipped mine a total of 4 times as I glazed the meat).  Watch the grill carefully during the glazing process, the honey in the glaze will burn if the heat is too high!  Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Slice thinly and serve topped with the stewed peppers.

Stewed Sweet Peppers
Also adapted from Saveur Magazine.

These peppers would be a great accompaniment to other grilled meats as well as this pork tenderloin.  They're nice to just have hanging around the fridge for when the mood strikes you.

2 bell peppers, sliced thinly (I like a mix of colors, red and yellow are my favorite.  Don't use green ones)
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs water
2 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

In a small sauce pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the peppers, onions, garlic and water.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover the pan and let the mixture simmer for about 45 minutes.  The peppers will become very soft and release all of their juices.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  The peppers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

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