This fall I went a little overboard with apples. I just kept accumulating them — I bought bags from the farmer’s markets, a box from a co-worker for a school fundraiser and random ones on sale at the grocery store. Around November, I couldn’t even look at apples anymore and just avoided glancing at the full-to-the-brim fruit drawer in my refrigerator.
Finally a few weeks ago I decided to revisit those apples and use them up, one way or another. While they had lost some of their “crisp,” they were still great for other applications. I grated a few into some batches of hot cereal and was surprised at how tasty the outcome was – sweet, slightly tart and perfect with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup.
Thursday night I got the opportunity to use up a few more.
I was totally at a loss at what to make for dinner. I hadn’t had a chance to go to the store but rooting around in my fridge I came up with a pork tenderloin, some brussels sprouts, half a head of cauliflower and (of course) a handful of apples. After adding an onion and some home-dried thyme to the mix, my findings suddenly seemed like a cohesive dish rather than just a hodge-podge of ingredients.
I actually think it was the thyme that tipped the scales in my favor. Normally I steer away from anything too sweet for dinner since my husband prefers things as savory as possible. I wasn’t sure if he’d liked the roasted apples, but I hoped the thyme and the onion would balance out the sugar. And hey, if he didn’t like it, more for me, right?
I roasted the cauliflower, onions and apples all separately. While they were cooking away, I shaved the brussles sprouts continuing to check the items in the oven. The apples were done first:
When the roasted onions were very close to being tender and caramelized, I focused on the meat. Pork tenderloin (another thing my husband hates) is easy to cook but can be bland and mushy. To rescue it from this fate, be generous with the seasonings and make sure you get a good hard sear on it. This will add a crunchy contrast to the tender meat.
Once my tenderloin was a dark golden brown, I removed it from the skillet and put it on top of the onions to finish roasting in the oven. I added the leaves from several dried thyme sprigs, crushing them over the onions and the pork.
I’d say things were looking good!
While the pork was in the oven, I used the hot pan I had seared it in to cook the Brussels spouts. I started by sautéing some minced garlic and then added the shaved sprouts. Once the sprouts were softened, I added in the roasted cauliflower, a small dollop of whole grain mustard and a splash of apple cider vinegar. The mustard gave a hint of bite and depth to the dish while the vinegar brought some brightness. The flavors were reminiscent of the Alsatian dish choucroute, which made me very happy.
After the meat had a chance to rest, I sliced it up, dumping all of the juices into the onions.
Then it was time to dig in!
Oh and my husband loved this dinner just as much as I did. Yay for super successful fridge cleaning! (Only 12-14 more apples to go…)
Easy Peasy Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Onions, Apples and Thyme
- 1 each pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
- 1 yellow onion, thickly sliced
- Thyme, either fresh or dried
- Salt, pepper, oil and butter
- Lemon juice and/or apple brandy
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pull pork out about an hour prior to cooking. Season well with salt and pepper.
Toss the onions with oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan or in a skillet and roast until tender. Stir every five minutes or so, being careful not to burn them.
Heat a second pan on the stove and add in a tablespoon or two of butter. When butter has melted, add apples, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt, move to oven. Apples are done when they are tender but not mushy. Deglaze hot pan with a splash of apple brandy or some lemon juice. Or both!
Once the onions are close to being done, heat up a large skillet until very hot, add oil and pork. Make sure pork gets a good sear on all sides. Remove from pan and add to onions in oven. Add in a few fresh springs of thyme or a generous sprinkling of dried thyme. Roast until pork is done.
Allow meat to rest before slicing. Add any pan juices to the onion mixture. Slice apple wedges in half.
Dish up and enjoy!