Pork tenderloin with apple relish, polenta, asparugus

Pork tenderloin with apple relish, polenta, asparugus
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There are two challenges that I always seem to face when making weeknight dinners. The first is coming up with a starch component that doesn't take a long time to cook and isn't boring. The other is having a sauce component for a meat dish. This particular meal has good options for both of those issues.

When you grill a piece of meat, you don't have the good fortune of having brown bits or drippings left over in your cooking vessel as if you had roasted or sauteed that piece of protein. In those scenarios, you could deglaze your pan with some liquid, a splash of wine, add some herbs, a pat of butter, etc. and have a nice little pan sauce. I also don't have a lot of veal stock sitting around that I could reduce for a rich sauce either. Therefore, in grilling situations, I like to throw together a quick condiment for whatever I'm grilling. That could be a chimichurri-type sauce or some kind of relish. In this case, I diced up an apple and threw it in a foil pouch with a couple of other ingredients and let it cook gently on the grill with my pork to create a quick accompaniment. Also, it's not a bad thing if you have kids who like applesauce. The barrier to getting them to try is isn't as bad. It's not quite as sweet and it's a bit more sophisticated in flavor profile, but it's basically applesauce. 

Polenta is such a great weeknight side dish. I use instant polenta and I have no problems doing so. I do think that the slow cooked version is better but the instant stuff is really good also. It takes 5 minutes to make. I add grated cheese and butter to mine and it's delicious and a kid-pleaser as well. You could also add corn kernels to this as well. That would add a nice textural component to it. You can also make a double batch and put half of it in a shallow pan and let it harden up. Then you can cut it into squares or various shapes, and fry them or grill them for another meal. Polenta fries are a quick and kid-friendly side for another night! 

This particular menu is completed with some grilled asparagus. This vegetable is fantastic on the grill. I'm sure you know! Olive oil, salt, and pepper is all you need. My 5-year-old actually ate entire spears of it this time! Usually, he only eats the crispy, charred tips. 

GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN

Ingredients: 1 pork tenderloin, salt, pepper, olive oil, smoked paprika

  1. Season the tenderloin with salt, pepper and paprika and allow it to sit at room temperature while your grill is heating up.
  2. Add a drizzle of olive oil and make sure the tenderloin is well coated with the oil and seasonings.
  3. Grill your tenderloin until it's done. I prefer a medium-well doneness for pork tenderloin, where there is a hint of pink on the inside.
  4. Please let your tenderloin rest before you slice into it. I made my polenta while the pork was resting. It's very important.

APPLE RELISH

Ingredients: 1 diced granny smith

apple

, 1 minced

shallot

, 1 TB

olive oil

, 1 TB

orange juice

, 1-2 tsp

honey

,

salt

and

pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients except for the honey and mix thoroughly with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Add the mixture to a foil packet and seal the edges very well.
  3. Place you pouch on a cooler are of the grill. You want this to cook gently, not really char on the inside. You can keep it on the grill for as long as it takes to cook the pork.
  4. Once it has finished cooking, add the contents to a bowl and add the honey. Depending on the apple, the amount of honey will vary. Add it to taste. It should be a bit sweet, but not like a dessert. And the apples should be cooked but not mush.
  5. Serve alongside the pork.

NOTE: You could also add fresh, minced ginger to the pouch. That would be a fantastic addition.

SOFT POLENTA

Ingredients: instant

polenta

  1. Follow the directions on the package. It's super easy.
  2. I like to stir in grated parmesan and a knob of butter at the end

GRILLED ASPARAGUS

Ingredients: 1 bunch of

asparagus

with the ends trimmed,

olive oil

,

salt

,

pepper

  1. Trim the bottom inch of the woody end. If your asparagus is really thick, you may want to peel the outside with a veg peeler.
  2. Coat the asparagus with olive and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill until the outside begins to char a bit, then turn and char the outside. I like them cooked but no totally floppy.