Last week, I signed up for Caroline Chambers’ What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking newsletter. So naturally I looked nowhere else for this week’s dinners. It was a Caroline-filled week!
The first two dinners were new recipes to me, but all the ingredients were old, familiar friends—a pickle-brined chicken sandwich and sesame ginger steak and veggies. But dinner #3 added a whole new meat to my repertoire: pork tenderloin!
Yep, I have never cooked nor eaten pork tenderloin before. I realize that this is a pretty lame, basic cut of meat, but so is chicken breast, and when you find something you like, why veer off, right? Pork has just always looked so rubbery to me that I never had any desire to try it (outside of the classics like bacon and sausage and ribs). But Caroline swears that “If you like chicken, you *probably* like pork tenderloin.”
Well I LOVE chicken, so I liked my chances.
That was all I needed to hear before adding sheet-pan balsamic glazed pork with fennel and potatoes to the menu.
That and the fact that this recipe gave me another chance to try fennel!
After marinating the (dirt cheap!) pork in fresh orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, and thyme, I roasted it with some baby potatoes and sliced fennel for a hands-off dinner.
I enjoyed this meal, but rather than focus on me, I’d like to talk about Picky Boyfriend for a moment.
I don’t know why, but I just assumed he would want nothing to do with this dinner. The fennel, the pork, the balsamic! None of it sounded like his cup of tea. Was I projecting? Apparently.
In fact, when he asked what was for dinner, I gave a master class in under-selling: “I’m making pork with potatoes, but if you don’t like it, you have pizza and a half a calzone in the fridge.” (We all know picky eater rule #1 by now, right? ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP!)
Well imagine my surprise when he was still chewing his first bite while saying “Wow! Very good meat. So juicy!”
I’ve never enjoyed someone talking with their mouth full so much. He went back for seconds, and we wound up doing quite the number on the two pounds of pork I cooked for two people who I thought might not like pork. 😮
But back to me!
I liked it too! The pork was, in fact, nice and juicy, and I managed to avoid overcooking it and making the rubbery pork of my nightmares. I was worried that the balsamic vinegar would be too strong (when I stuck my finger in the glaze while it was cooking, I got nervous that I was ruining dinner), but in fact, all the flavors in this dish balanced each other out.
Remember when I tried fennel a few weeks ago and couldn’t find its flavor? I found it this week! And it paired perfectly with the balsamic pork and potatoes. I wouldn’t say that I love it on its own, but it’s a great addition to a sheet-pan dinner.
Given how easy this pork tenderloin was to cook, its non-truck-tire-like texture, and its very low cost, I will definitely be making more! Maybe with a more Asian marinade next time?
How else do you like your pork tenderloin? Should I get really crazy and try pork chops too?? (Because those really remind me of the erasers I used in school as a kid.) Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @thepickyeaterchronicles!