Monday, October 3, 2011

Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Lemon Risotto and a Spinach Salad

This was just the meal for a cold, wet, Fall, Sunday Night. I overlapped the pork and risotto recipe so you could see how to make it work together. I think I will link them separately on my recipe roll though. 

You Need:

Pork Tenderloin
Apple Juice
Worcestershire Sauce
Salt & Pep
Apricot Preserves
Dijon Mustard

 For the 6 of us I bought 3 pork tenderloins. That is a 13x9 pan so that should give you an idea of how big they were. I went to the butcher at the market and asked how much he thought I should get. When in doubt ASK! That's what they are there for. 

I poured apple juice into the bottom of the pan just to give it some moisture. If you look at the pictures below it didn't even fill it half way. Then I sprinkled a little Worcestershire Sauce on it and salt and pepper. 

I used these Apricot preserves. They looked so old fashioned and delicious, plus they were on sale! I put a few spoonfuls onto the pork and spread it around with a knife
 Then I mixed the rest of the apricot preserves with a little less then a quarter cup of Dijon Mustard .

 Brush some of the mixture over the pork tenderloin. 

Place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Save the rest of the mustard apricot mixture for a little later. 

 While this bakes for the first 30 minutes, get ready your Risotto ingredients. This is a Rachael Ray recipe that I improvised.

You need:
1 quart of chicken broth
2 cups of water
1 Tbsp. Olive oil 
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped or grated
1 medium onion FINELY chopped
1/2 cup of dry white wine
2 Tbsp. Butter cut in small pieces
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (Rachael Ray uses Pecorino Romano)
1 medium lemon or 2 small (you will need the skin for zest and the juice as well) 

Heat 32 oz. of chicken stock and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan 

Cut your onion up FINELY especially if feeding kids or husbands like Joe :) I wonder if grating would work well? Hmmm.
Also get your garlic prepped. 
 How to easily peel a clove of garlic
 Step one- always use a sharp knife and a cutting board you don't want to cut an apple that tastes like garlic later. 
Step 2- I cut off the hard ends just to make it even easier.
Step 3- Take a wide knife and place on top of the garlic clove
Step 4- Place your hand over the knife and with one quick downward motion hit the flat side of the knife.
When you lift the knife you will easily be able to remove the skin of the garlic so you can chop it. 
While this is the EASY way to chop garlic, the easiest thing is seriously to buy the frozen squares from Trader Joe's. I meant it when I said they were life changing :) Today my hands STILL smell like garlic :/
 I used 2 small lemons that were more juicy for the juice. And one bigger lemon with a better skin for the zest. 

 Squeeze over something to catch the seeds. I got 1/4 cup of juice, that is a lot and will make the risotto VERY lemony. We don't like it too lemony so I only added MAYBE less then 1/8 of a cup. So a little less then 2 Tablespoons. 

Zest your lemon 

If you are using the same lemon for both juice and skin, Zest the lemon FIRST then cut open and juice. To try and zest a cut and squezeed lemon. Not easy.

Get your 2 Tablespoons of butter
and cut into small pieces

I had everything ready to go on a cutting board. Including the 1/2 cup of white wine and 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese

At the 30 minute mark, check your pork and brush on more of the apricot/mustard mixture

Put it back in the oven and get ready to start your Risotto. 

Heat the 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a Risotto Pot or skillet with rounded bottom or if you are like me a dutch oven. 

Add the onion
Add the garlic  
And cook to soften about 3 or 4 minutes

Here is the rice I used. It can be somewhat expensive so I try to buy it when I see it on sale and then save it for a rainy day :)
I made one cup which serves about 4 people. Or 2 big people and 4 little people 

 Add your rice to the pot and stir. 
Stir it in and heat the rice, onions, etc for 1-2 minutes before adding the wine.
Also add the lemon zest 
Now add the wine and cook to evaporate.
Once evaporated...add the heated chicken stock and water, a few ladles at a time and stir for a minute each time to develop the starches, this will make the risotto creamy.
Keep adding stock each time the pan starts get dry around the edges.

The total cooking time is 18-20 minutes depending on your heat. It is involved but with your pork finishing up in the oven you've got time.  
 When the rice is cooked to al dente, season with salt and pepper and stir in the butter, cheese and lemon juice. Again if you love lemony food you can just keep adding to taste, but start with a little taste...add more... taste...until you like it. Don't just pour it all in. We are not huge lemon food fans at our house, but I especially think the lemon zest adds a nice contrast to the creaminess of the risotto. It is a nice blend of flavor. 

The kids ate their pork with Risotto and also fresh spinach, strawberries and applesauce

 I made Joe and I a delicious and beautiful spinach salad. 
I used baby spinach, sliced strawberries, Cotija cheese crumbles (you can also use feta), honey glazed almonds and Girard's Champagne dressing! YUMMMMMMMMYYYYY!

 and SO so so pretty :)
One more picture :) More almonds!
Once your pork tenderloin reaches 180 degrees on a meat thermometer, it is done. I believe mine took at least an hour. I forgot to turn on my convection. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes so you don't lose all your juices on the cutting board
It is so moist you can cut it with a fork! My kids love to dip theirs in applesauce.
 I have been trying to have us eat off small plates. I used to eat of the small plate and have a separate salad bowl. Now I am using the small plate for EVERYTHING! Which helps control my portions AND looks pretty snazzy too! Oh! Rachael Ray also adds, basil and mint to her risotto, but again it's up to you. I just put a little basil sliced thin on top. 

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