3-WAY KID-FRIENDLY PORK TENDERLOIN
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
2 tbsp honey
2 pork tenderloins, rinsed, patted dry
Mix the first four ingredients together in a gallon-size ziploc bag. Add the tenderloins. Zip the bag closed, then swish, mix, and massage the meat to ensure even coverage. Pop this into the refrigerator. Let marinate 6-8 hours. Think of it this way: while you're at work, so is the pork.
One hour before grilling:
Remove the meat from the refrigerator. It's unwise to grill cold meat. Can't remember why, exactly, but it's now one of those cooking gospels that I live by. This one-hour meat warm-up period is an excellent time to help kids with homework, prep sides, heat grill, and have a glass of wine.
Heat the grill. I use a gas grill, which I get as hot as possible. A) to make cleaning the grate easy and B) to sear the outside of the pork.
Using tongs, remove each tenderloin from the marinade bag and lay it on the grill. Searing the exterior doesn't take long - and you have to watch or you'll end up with a log-shaped pork cinder. Maybe 3-5 minutes per side. When tenderloins are seared on both sides, reduce the heat to low, and drop the lid. By now the wine is kicking in and you're tempted to kick back and daydream. Don't! Check your pork! Because I'm a control freak, I turn the tenderloins every now and again till they're finished - a process that ought not take more than 20 minutes. If you're impatient, you can butterfly the loins midway through cooking and finish a bit sooner. Pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. A little pink is not only okay, it's awesome. Meat thermometers are great tools, because they spare you having to think - always a relief at the end of a long day.
Kid-Friendly Meal #1
Slice the tenderloin into thin medallions. Serve with steamed rice, a slice of french bread, and cantaloupe chunks. Toss a salad of fresh spinach leaves with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Bribe your kids to try the salad. When they refuse, threaten them with scurvy. This works, truly. My 11 year-old now eats raw spinach. Was this easy to accomplish? No. It was not. Which is why it's time for another glass of wine.
Kid-Friendly Meal #2
Slice the tenderloin into medallions, then strips - like a coarse julienne. Squeeze a freshly cut lime over the meat. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup soy sauce with a teaspoon of honey, a generous squirt of siracha and a squeeze of the lime. (My 11 year-old eats spicy foods, but runs screaming at the sight of an apple. Go figure.) Serve with romaine lettuce leaves - you can use iceberg, but I've gotten my two veggie-hating daughters trained to eat romaine which, being darker green than iceberg, assuages my mommy guilt more effectively. Wrap a spoonful of the meat, drizzled in a bit of the sauce if desired, in a lettuce leaf and then you are allowed to EAT WITH YOUR HANDS. Fun! Grilled corn on the cob makes a good side for this in summertime. You can just hose everyone off in the driveway afterward.
Kid-Friendly Meal #3
Again, slice the tenderloin into medallions, then strips, and hit it with the juice of a fresh lime. This time, instead of lettuce, we're using warmed, soft corn tortillas. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, store-bought salsa - try one of the fruit salsas if you're feeling adventurous. My kids won't even consider a mango salsa, but I haven't given up trying yet. I also add some sliced avocado, though I've yet to come up with a bribe big enough to get my girls to try that. On the side, sliced fresh fruit - watermelon in summer is perfect. More eating with your hands! Fewer dishes to wash!