When turkey gets boring, try pork instead
- If turkey's not your game or you get bored with the bird after the holiday, try pork tenderloin
Trust me, the turkey party is going to be over as quickly as it began. That's where pork tenderloin comes in; this is one of those cuts of meat that you just can't go wrong serving. It's tender with very little fat and cooks up in a hurry. I serve pork tenderloin in all manner of ways to guests and family, and it never disappoints.
We like it grilled, encrusted in black pepper and served with a light sauce as a great summer dish, but I also slice and marinate it in ginger and soy and dust with flour for a quick stir fry any time of year. Pork tenderloin is great in sandwiches, too, so I always make enough for leftovers.
Here the intention was to make it initially for sandwiches, but in the end I decided to change it up and forgo the bread and serve with fresh arugula and a zesty aioli. We loved the flavor, didn't miss the bread but sure looked forward to the sandwiches the next day. I use a seasoned cast-iron skillet to cook, as you can heat it in the oven prior to cooking and then continue to get the pan searing hot before adding the pork and roasting.
Compared to a lot of meat prices these days, pork tenderloin is still fairly affordable and freezes well. If you're having a house full of guests this holiday weekend, you might want to consider this dandy dish when the gang has had its fill of the bird. This is just yet another reason why, unlike turkey, I never tire of pork.
Peppered Pork Tenderloin
Recipe adapted from Food Network
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
One package pork tenderloins (2 tenderloins, fat left on)
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
5 tablespoons butter
6 cloves garlic, finely grated
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup mayonnaise
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (2 tablespoons juice)
3 cups arugula
4 ounces Parmesan, shaved
To give the roast a quick cure for added flavor, stir together the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, rub the mixture all over the roast and refrigerate for 1 hour or as long as overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Blot the roast dry. Crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle (or smash peppercorns wrapped in waxed paper with a heavy skillet) to a medium-coarse texture. (Some will be finely ground, but you want the larger pieces to resemble cracked pepper.) Rub the pepper into the meat, saving what doesn't stick for the butter sauce.
Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat, and add the butter and garlic. Cook until the butter bubbles; add the vinegar, thyme and remaining black pepper, and remove from the heat.
Sprinkle the pork with 1 teaspoon salt. Heat an ovenproof skillet large enough to fit the pork roast over high heat and add the oil. Brown the meat quickly on all sides.
Brush the meat generously with some of the butter sauce, put the skillet in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the skillet, roll the roast to another side and baste it with more of the butter mixture. Continue to roast the meat, removing it from the oven every 10 minutes or so to flip and mop, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast reads 145 degrees, about 50 minutes total.
Transfer the meat to a platter and let it rest for at least 10 minutes, rolling the pork around to sop up its exuded juices. Slice pork thinly and serve hot or refrigerate for sandwiches later.
For the aioli: Stir together the mayonnaise, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon zest and juice in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until using.
Slice the pork, add a dollop of the aioli on the plate and serve with arugula dressed in lemon juice and topped with shaved Parmesan. Serves 6.
Per serving: 852 calories; 74 g fat (20 g saturated fat; 78 percent calories from fat); 6 g carbohydrates; 0.5 g sugar; 161 mg cholesterol; 1,143 mg sodium; 41 g protein; 1 g fiber.