Friday, February 25, 2011

Bourbon-Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin

If any of you get Southern Living (which is a mag I highly recommend if you don't),  you can sympathize with my ogling over the recipes and my sticky-noting ones that I want to try. Okay, maybe not the sticky-noting. Anyways, some good-looking things appear on the pages of that magazine. One recipe in the February issue in particular has been simmering ( term...see what I did there?) in the back of my mind since it arrived: Bourbon-Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin.

"But a pork tenderloin recipe??" you say. "That makes a pretty hefty meal!" Indeed. This specific recipe makes two tenderloins. Situations such as these validate learning how to divide fractions in elementary school, a skill that does actually apply to life circumstances. Whoda thunk? I hated those things (fractions, not tenderloins).  In my fractional frolickings, I discovered that halving 1/4 of a cup equals 1/8 which equals 2 tbsp. A much more manageable amount than 1/8 of a cup. Conversion tables are your friend, especially when you're halving or quartering recipes.

If you're lucky enough to have a single tenderloin on hand, you're golden for this recipe; however, they generally come in two-packs. Split them up, even though by now I'm sure they've become best of friends living in that packaging together, skin them, and toss one in the freezer for later use. I already had a small one in the freezer, so it became my victim for the evening. If you're going to use a frozen one, I'd recommend taking it out two days in advance, or at least the night before--one day to thaw, one day to marinate.  

I prepped the marinade before I went to work this morning. Start with a ziploc bag (gallon or quart, depending on the size of your tenderloin), and add 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, 2 Tbsp minced green onion (I just chopped up two stalks), 2 Tbsp of bourbon (Jack and I are buddies, but feel free to take your pick), 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, and 2 Tbsp of dijon mustard (I don't have dijon mustard, so I used spicy brown) to the bag. Seal the bag and toss it around a bit to mix everything together, then pop your little tenderloin in its new baggie home for the next 8-18 hours to marinate in the fridge. If you get the chance to periodically flip him, the marinade will absorb a little more evenly, but it's not a necessity.

So, like I said, start the marinating before work, and when you get home, all you have to do is cook it. (And read ahead before you toss the marinade!!) The recipe says to grill, but being in a small apartment, I don't have one of those (I'm working on getting a grill pan). Instead, I heated up some olive oil in an oven-safe pan big enough to hold friend-tenderloin and gave it a good searing before popping it in a 300-degree oven for about 40-45 min, flipping every 10-15 min until it's cooked to your specifications and/or has an internal temp of 155 degrees. Personally, I like a pretty thoroughly-cooked chunk of pork, but adjust your cooking time accordingly. The only thing I'll eat still pink is a steak. 

Now, take your marinade that you saved by diligently reading ahead, pour it in a saucepan with either 1/4 tsp of cornstarch or 1/2 tsp of flour (since I was out of cornstarch....remember what I said originally about substitutions?), and bring that to a boil for about a minute until it thickens. Voila! Delicious tenderloin sauce.

Once your tenderloin is done, let it rest for about 10 min, then smother it in sauce and start slicing. Or vice versa. Then start eating!!! (Not that I needed to tell you that)

Though I had a small tenderloin, it was still a pretty hefty piece of meat, so I invited my sister-in-law, AC, and my puppy-niece Maggie to join me. Her and I had two good-sized slices each, and there was enough left for one more meal. If you're short on dinner guests, slice it, but wait on the sauce. Tenderloin makes great leftovers (sandwiches, stir-fry..use your imagination) and also freezes well, but for some leftovers recipes, brown sugar and bourbon sauce might not be too tasty.

 Dinner is served! With a tossed salad topped with homemade white wine vinaigrette.

 If you could only smell....

 Maggie could. She even got a little taste, and the tenderloin passed the rigorous Yellow Lab standards for cooked meat.

The full, original recipe for those interested:

Bourbon-Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin
Makes: 6-8 servings | Hands-on Time: 30min | Total Time: 8hr 30min

2 (1-lb) pork tenderloins
1/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c minced green onions
1/4 c bourbon
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c dijon mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp cornstarch

1.) Remove silver skin from tenderloins, leaving a thin layer of fat. Combine brown sugar and next 5 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; add pork. Seal bag, and chill for 8-18 hours, turning bag occasionally. Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade.

2.) Preheat grill to 350/400-degrees (medium-high heat). Grill pork, covered with grill lid, 8 min on each side or until a meat thermometer into thickest portion registers 155-degrees. Remove from grill and let stand 10 min.

3.) Meanwhile, combine reserved marinade and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, 1 min. Cut pork diagonally into thin slices, and arrange on a serving platter; drizzle with warm sauce.

(Take from Feb 2011 Southern Living, pg 106)

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