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?
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.
It was fairly labor intensive, starting with soaking the dry beans to roasting the jalapeno peppers.
It also called for cooking with wine. I love cooking with wine. Sometimes, I even add it to the recipe.
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.
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.
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!!)