While getting dinner on the table is often a struggle, coming up with what to make is problematic, too. Especially during the week. I hear all too often that people are looking for simple recipes with simple ingredients.
“Simple foods that taste delicious and are easy to make” is the prediction that came out of the Next Big Bite event held Oct. 1 in New York, according to restaurantnews.com. The event featured food-industry experts who reflected on what we will crave and how we will cook in 2019. Those making the predictions included noted chefs Carla Hall and Jacques Pepin and pastry chef Christina Tosi.
A quest for simplicity is how I came across this recipe. While rifling through some recently arrived cookbooks (there are lots), I came across “Milk Street: Tuesday Nights” by Christopher Kimball (Little, Brown, $35). Kimball is the driving force behind Milk Street, a venture he started after leaving America’s Test Kitchen a few years ago. His mission with Milk Street involves “simplifying cooking techniques yet delivering bolder flavor,” say publicists for the book. This is Kimball’s second Milk Street cookbook.
It offers 400 pages of easy-to-do recipes that look and sound delicious, and it’s divided into sections cleverly labeled “fast,” “faster” and “fastest.” Recipes in the fast section generally require 40 minutes or less. Those labeled faster take 30 to 35 minutes, and those dubbed fastest are done in less than 30 minutes. There are also chapters on specific dishes, such as easy additions (sides), supper salads, pizza nights, one-pot dishes, roast-and-simmer offerings and sweets. In all, recipes are ready in an hour or less. All the main dishes serve four.
The only caveat involves the ingredients. Not everyone has fish sauce or a jar of capers in the pantry. Some cooks would cringe at the thought of figuring out fresh ginger or lemongrass. However, Kimball’s use of boneless and skinless chicken thighs, bone-in pork chops, and cuts of meat like sirloin and flat-iron make sense. These are readily available and should be in anyone’s cooking repertoire for ease and convenience. There are also plenty of recipes using canned beans, pasta and fish and seafood.
The only semi-obscure ingredient in today’s recipe for Paprika-rubbed Pork Tenderloin is smoked paprika. The rest of the ingredients are standard.
What makes the recipe work is that the tenderloins are seared in an oven-proof skillet and then finished in the oven. It’s important not to overcook the tenderloins. Have an instant-read thermometer at hand. Cook the meat until the internal temperature hits 135 degrees at its thickest point. It will be slightly pink if you cut into it, but it will continue to cook if you tent it with foil and let it rest a good 10 minutes.
A word of caution: The recipe calls for two pork tenderloins – each 1 1/4 pounds. That’s a lot of pork if you’re not a big eater. Plan on having leftovers.
Paprika-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
Yield: Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes
From “Milk Street: Tuesday Nights” by Christopher Kimball (Little, Brown, $35).
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins (about 1 1/4 pound each), trimmed of silver skin and halved crosswise
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
6 medium garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter, chilled and cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a rack in the middle position.
In a large bowl or dish, mix together both paprikas, thyme and 2 teaspoons salt. Add the pork to the bowl, turn to coat and massage it into the meat.
Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
In an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the pork and cook, occasionally turning with tongs, until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the center of the thickest piece reaches 135 degrees, 9 to 12 minutes. (If don’t have an ovenproof skillet, transfer the pork to a sided sheet pan.)
Using an oven mitt, transfer the skillet from the oven to the stovetop. Transfer the pork to a large plate and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the garlic to the skillet and cook over medium-high, stirring constantly, until toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the honey and stir until it slightly darkens in color, about 30 seconds. Pour in the broth and simmer until reduced and thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
Add the vinegar and simmer for 30 seconds. Add the butter 1 piece at a time, swirling the pan to emulsify the sauce before adding more butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cut the tenderloin crosswise into thin slices and arrange on a platter. Spoon the sauce over the pork.