Sometimes I lose my side dish mojo. I get so wrapped up in the main portion of the meal that I don’t allot enough time for the sides. When this happens, I throw together a quick pot of pasta and grab a bag of frozen veggies and pop them into the microwave. This is okay. Don’t get me wrong. Many a great dish came of humble frozen beginnings. But sometimes, especially on the weekends, I want something more. How about a combination of fresh and frozen? You know, something to break up the monotony. And we could all use that.
This is what I made for dinner this past Sunday. It’s grilled pork tenderloin with a crust of finely chopped parsley and rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I change the herbs in this coating quite often and there’s lots of room to groove with it. Use what you like. It’s great on chicken, too. After I prepared this dish a couple of times, I started calling it Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin but my kids think it’s chicken. I call everything chicken to avoid hearing about the impending death that will come if they have to eat something unfamiliar for dinner. Next to it are what I call “cheesy potatoes” and simply steamed zucchini, lightly buttered with salt and pepper.
The raw tenderloin has been slightly trimmed to remove the silvery membrane that can make for an overly chewy bite later on.
I think we all know how to remove fresh rosemary from the stem. If you don’t, hold it at the tip and pull along the stem against the way the needles grow.
Finely chop the rosemary. Please do not use dried rosemary, you will regret it if you do. Dried rosemary is the devil. I used 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary. You could use more. I would estimate this to be about 1-1/2 teaspoons.
Grab a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, rip off the stems and roll it into a ball in your hand. Go ahead. Just wad it all up, lay it on the board and using your fingers to hold it together, finely chop it.
Please don’t cut your fingers while doing this. But do use a sharp knife and be careful. This will give you about 4 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley.
Roughly chop the garlic and put kosher salt on it.
Holding your knife as shown, apply pressure to the tip and use the salt as an abrasive to break down the garlic into a paste.
This is almost where you want it. I’d smash it a little more, but do you see the benefit of doing it this way? Now you won’t have big chunks of garlic in your coating. Nice, huh?
Put everything into a small bowl along with the zest of a lemon and fresh ground pepper. Add some olive oil.
Mix it all together. I squeezed a little lemon juice in there, just because. Use your imagination. There’s no recipe here. It’s about the proportions and flavors you like.
Give the meat a light sprinkle of salt before you begin. Then spread the mixture onto the tenderloins. After I took this picture, I rubbed the coating all over the meat so it would be evenly distributed.
Grill it. I crank up the heat to really get the grill going. Then I reduce the heat to low on one side and leave the other burners on high. This creates a better indirect heat source so that you don’t cremate the herbed coating. As you can see, even reducing the heat to low will still produce a little char. It’s okay. For these two tenderloins, I would recommend approximately 10-12 minutes per side. I like it cooked medium to medium-well, and a little pinkness is okay with pork, contrary to what you may think. If you’re in doubt about the length of time or whether your tenderloin is done, push on it or stick an instant read thermometer into the thickest portion of the meat. I pull the meat off the grill at 150 degrees and let it sit, covered for 10-15 minutes, at which time it will be up to 155-160 degrees. Use the juice that will inevitably seep out of the meat as a sauce over the sliced pork when it’s time to serve. Now while the meat is cooking, get to work on the sides.
I heated up a skillet over medium heat and added olive oil, a little butter and a small chopped onion. Cook until the onion becomes tender. It’s okay if it browns a little. Add in some store-bought hash brown potatoes, salt and pepper. They’re not just for breakfast! Cover the skillet. While these cook, you can prep your veg. Whatever it may be.
Cook the potatoes until they are tender, and a little bit of crispy browned potato is good for the soul and so is melted cheese. Sprinkle with cheese. A cheddar would work well, or any kind that complements your entree. I used a three-cheese blend. I usually create little pockets of exposed skillet so the cheese will melt and begin to brown, kind of like the part of the grilled cheese sandwich that oozes out and gets browned. Yum! Turn off the heat and cover until the rest of the meal is ready.
So there you have it. Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Cheesy Potatoes and veggie of choice.
There really are no recipes here, just a suggested method. And that’s the beauty of it. Go ahead and rock your kitchen.