This dinner was inspired by our winter farmer’s market. It was made of entirely local ingredients in the middle of winter in Pennsylvania. Many communities obviously don’t have winter markets, but I am fortunate enough to have both a winter farm share and a weekly winter market. The choices are more limited — but I can pretty much always count on getting local, pasture-raised meats, potatoes, root vegetables, brussel sprouts or cabbages, apples, and more. It certainly is difficult to make local ingredients the basis of every meal during a northeast winter, but it definitely feels good when you can. And it makes me long for summer when nearly every dinner is local.
And before you shrug this off and say… “Brussel sprouts? My kids would never eat them!”, let me introduce you to a great method that my kids (and many other brussel sprout haters) not only tolerate, but enjoy. And like many of these types of meals, this is more method than recipe, use what you have and get creative.
I used fingerlings and small sweet potatoes, but any kind will do — takes about 5o minutes, so start this first.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Wash the potatoes and either slice in half and cut into 1/2-3/4 inch chunks.
- Line a metal roasting pan with parchment paper so they won’t stick. Add potatoes — don’t overload the pan or they won’t brown.
- Toss the potatoes with several tablespoons of olive oil, a hefty pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper. I usually add chopped fresh rosemary, but dried woul be fine also.
- Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes until they are brown and crispy. It may take more or less time depending on how hot your oven actually is and how many potatoes are in the pan. Stir every 10-15 minutes to make sure they brown evenly. Toss with a little extra sea salt before serving. BTW, if the rest of your meal isn’t ready, just turn the oven off, let it cool a few minutes, and put the potatoes back in to keep warm.
I usually do two pork tenderloins for our family of four — takes about fifteen minutes, so start this when potatoes have about that much time left.
- Remove pork from packaging and cut off any visible silver skin.
- Slice horizontally into 1 1/2 to 2 inch medallions (think mini filet mignons)
- Flatten slightly.
- In a bowl, mix a cup of flour and a bit of salt and pepper. Dredge each medallion into the flour mixture and shake off excess.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan. (If the meat starts to stick or it looks like there isn’t enough fat in there, just add a bit more).
- Add pork to saute pan and let brown for a few minutes on the first side. It should be golden and release easily. (if it sticks a lot, it probably isn’t done). Flip all the pieces over and saute for a few minutes on the other side.
- Remove pork to plate and deglaze saute pan with about one cup of sherry or marsala and scrape up any browned bits.
- Add pork back to pan, cover, and simmer for about 7-10 more minutes until pork is done (flipping the pieces over halfway to utilize the browned flour on the exterior to thicken the sauce). You’re at home, so feel free to cut into a piece to see if it’s done. We feel pretty confident leaving our pork a bit pink in the middle because we know our farmers — your choice, but don’t cook it to death or it will be dry and tough.
- Serve with a bit of the sauce ladled over the pork. If you want to make this a little more special, you can add a few tablespoons of cream to the sauce.
The Brussel Sprouts
I cooked about two pints for our family of four — takes only 5-7 minutes, so do this last while pork is simmering.
- Wash them and remove any dark or discolored leaves. Trim the stem end.
- This is a great task for a food processor if you have one. But I’ve done it with a knife — it just takes more time. If using a processor, put your slicing disk in place, turn it on, and start putting the brussel sprouts in the feed tube. They will all be sliced in minutes flat, leaving you extra time to clean the damn thing. If using a knife, just thinly slice the sprouts into shreds.
- Melt some butter (about 1/2 tablespoon, more or less based on how many sprouts you have) in a large saute pan over medium heat and saute the brussel sprouts for a few minutes until they start to wilt.
- I like to add a bit of lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, a bit more butter, and salt and pepper. Cook a few more minutes until just tender. Don’t overcook them! This is one of those dishes that you just need to taste and season until it’s good. Actually that’s the secret of a lot of cooking!