We announced the start of a new series of posts last week with a promise to launch today. The full details are here but the premise is simple – creating good, wholesome food at affordable pricing as a means to support and create a dialogue in which we can share how to eat wholesome food at a fraction of a price of fast food alternatives. The terms gourmet and cheap are relative – the term Tuesday is not.
Roasted pork tenderloin with the flavors of late autumn – pears, apples and potatoes.
We found pork tenderloins on sale – 1.2 kilograms (approximately 2.5 pounds) of protein for $5.18. We also purchased 6 Ontario Apples ($2.10), 3 pears ($1.07), white flour for bread ($1), 9-grain flour for the same bread ($1.20), potatoes from a farmer at the St Lawrence Market ($2.40) a small dab of oil and various spices to be named later in bulk ($0.75). We also used $0.50 of Kahlua which is completely optional (you can buy an airplane bottle of it for $2.55 at the LCBO and need less than a quarter of it) which is completely optional. All numbers are rounded up.
Total cost was $14.20. Total portions are 6-8 which brings our cost per serving between $1.78-$2.37. This includes dinner and lunch portions which consist of pork dinner and sandwiches the next day.
We had also intended to add rice – frankly there was so much food and we were just excited to try the whole grain bread that we got our fiber from it.
The meal took about 45-55 minutes to make, spread over 2 days. Many steps can be skipped – each was a lot of fun. We’ll list the recipe chronologically as we made it:
Saturday Morning – 3 minutes
Start the no knead bread. We altered the recipe (both it and the technique can be found here) by replacing 1/3 of the white flour with a 9-whole grain mix that we found in the bulk barn. The bread takes about 5 minutes of active time and this was the only thing we did Saturday. By the time we pulled it out of the oven on Sunday here’s what we had.
Sunday Morning – 4 minutes
Pork tenderloin is an unsung hero of the meat world – it is moist, soft, full of flavor and easy to cook. To add more moisture and flavor, many chefs will brine their pork. Dissolve 1/8 cup of salt in 4 cups of water and cover your pork with the solution (we use a Tupperware with a lid). Place in fridge for 6-12 hours (a cold temperature enhances a brine). The longer it stays, the saltier it will taste.
Sunday Evening – 40 minutes active time, about 75 minutes in actual time
Remove pork from brine and pat it down well to remove all moisture.
Add spices as you choose – be sparing with salt as there is plenty now infused into your pork. Dried mustard and pepper were our flavors du jour. Rub these flavors into the pork.
Spread a bit of flour on the pork and cutting board – evenly coat the tenderloin with flour – we are making a flavor “crust” to add even more taste to our dish. Ensure your hands are super dry when doing this.
Heat a pan until it is hot – add oil and wait until it becomes thin and almost smoky (my Father used to flick a small drop of water from his finger into the oil and if it sputtered and splattered it was ready). You are not cooking the pork in this dish – simply browning it on all sides (brown = flavor). Do not was this pan, you will later cook pears in it.
Chop and season your potatoes – I like to “bridge” the different foods with similar spicing. Our potatoes had salt, pepper, mustard and smoked paprika. A light coating of oil before throwing them in the oven and they are good to go. We added them to a preheated oven at about 425 before lowering the temperature to 350 after about 15 minutes. We also laid the pork on top of the potatoes at that time and cooked the dish until the meat hit an internal temperature of 175.
It is important that you let the pork rest, covered loosely with tin foil for 15-20 minutes. Your potatoes may need some extra cooking (our were not great roasting potatoes but they were what we had) and can stay in the oven if needed at this point.
We went fruit heavy because we could buy them fresh, local and seasonal. Apples were quartered and thrown in a pan with a bit of water and a stick of cinnamon. We heated them, adding as little water as possible to stop them from burning. We cooked them on medium and used a potato masher to mash them into apple sauce (removing the skin and cinnamon stick at the end). Leaving the skin helped save us peeling 6 apples but does turn your sauce a little pink. We used 2 different sweet apples and found no need to add any sweeter whatsoever.
The pears were easy – add a small bit of water to the pan used to sear the pork and soften the pears on medium-high heat. If the water evaporates, add more in small bits. Continue to heat through. When the pears are almost complete, toss in extra water and a small bit of brown sugar – this will form a sweet pear-infused glaze that can be spread on the pork at the end. We also poured our Kalhua in to this dish at the last minute.
Brining the pork and adding Kahlua were indulgences and can be passed by but both added a great twist that we often don’t taste as home chefs and diners.
We ate less than half the side dishes and 1/3 of the pork. We have enough food left for 1 or 2 more dinners and several healthy sandwiches (including some apple sauce, now sweetened with the leftover pear glaze). The pork was divine and the local ingredients which complemented it were sweet contrasts to the savoury main.
What would you have done with the ingredients? Any further ways to save with a dish like above? We would love to continue the dialogue of idea in the comment section!