The beauty of this meal is that you’re going to use your grill for both components, the meat and the corn salad. For the non meat eaters in the crowd, they can enjoy the full-bodied Grilled Corn & Avocado Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing as their entrée.
But for those who indulge in meat, this pork recipe couldn’t be much simpler. Butterflied and pounded thin, the pork tenderloins are first marinated in a lively mix of lime, chile and spices then cooked quickly over a hot grill.
It’s a good idea to grill your veggies first, so that while they cool and you assemble the salad, the meat can be grilled and rested for 5 minutes. We happened to have a head of Bibb lettuce that needed to be used up so it only made sense to use that instead of running out to the store for a head of romaine—and it worked perfectly.
With only two of us for dinner, I decided not to cut the second avocado until the next day and therefore only dressed half of the salad to be eaten with dinner, saving the remainder for lunch on the following day. The extra dressing was put in small containers and topped the salad, along with leftover strips of pork, when ready to eat.
NOTE: Next time we would double the amount of scallions. Once cooked down and charred, six scallions didn’t have nearly enough presence. Use an entire bunch!
1 jalapeño, stemmed, halved lengthwise, and seeded
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 cup sliced fresh chives
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 med. head romaine lettuce, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
2 avocados, sliced
Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high.
Brush corn, scallions and jalapeño with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until corn kernels are browned in spots and the scallions and jalapeño are charred all over and tender, about 10 minutes, a little longer for the corn.
Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
When cool, remove charred jalapeño skin (wasn’t necessary for us.) Finely chop.
In a medium bowl, using a fork, mash the feta into a coarse paste. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and garlic, then stir in chives, parsley, and charred jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss lettuce with half the feta dressing and arrange on a platter or salad bowl.
Cut corn kernels off the cob and slice scallions into bite-size pieces.
Arrange avocado slices, corn and scallions on top of the lettuce. Serve with remaining dressing or add additional dressing, as desired.
Stir-frying is the name of the game when you want something quick and healthy. And making it yourself ensures you know exactly what’s in it, as compared to many Asian take-out places loaded with unwanted fat and calories. Cook’s Illustrated found that marinating pork tenderloin in a simple soy-sherry mixture and cooking it quickly (about two minutes) in batches over high heat kept the meat tender and beautifully seasoned. In place of the sherry, we substituted Shaoxing wine which is fermented from rice.
Because different vegetables cook at different rates, batch-cook the vegetables and add aromatics (like ginger and garlic) at the end so they are cooked long enough to develop their flavors but not long enough to burn. Chicken broth gives the sauce some backbone, and cornstarch slightly thickens it so that it lightly cloaks the meat and veggies.
We increased the amount of pork tenderloin from the original 12 ounces to one pound. And because of that, we doubled the soy sauce and sherry that gets mixed with the pork strips (which is all noted below). Keep in mind that pork tenderloin is easier to slice if it is partially frozen. *Freeze the tenderloin until firm but not frozen solid, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then cut the tenderloin crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices into 1/4-inch strips.
Stir-frying isn’t rocket science, and that’s what’s so great about it. It doesn’t require lots of fancy equipment. Instructions indicate to cook in a skillet, however we feel most stir-fries benefit from being cooked in a flat-bottomed wok. It helps to have a stir-fry spatula which fits the contour of the wok and has a long handle (to keep distance from the intense heat).
Stir frying is advantageous over other methods of cooking as it requires very little oil, which is healthier than deep frying or pan frying, and it also retains the nutrients present in the food being stir fried. As the name indicates, the food is constantly stirred while you cook it. Make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, canola, safflower, soybean, etc.
Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce
2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
3 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
12 oz. green beans, cut on bias into 2-inch lengths
1 large red bell pepper (about 8 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch squares
3 medium scallions, sliced thin on bias
Jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions (or brown rice if you prefer)
Combine pork, soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. + 1 teaspoon sherry in small bowl. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon sherry, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, white pepper, and cornstarch in measuring cup.
Combine garlic, ginger and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl.
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking; add half of pork to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up clumps, until well-browned, about 2 minutes.
Transfer pork to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil and remaining pork.
Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to bowl with pork.
Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to skillet; add bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 2 minutes.
Clear center of skillet, then add garlic/ginger mixture to clearing; cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 45 seconds, then stir mixture into peppers.
Add pork and green beans; toss to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds.
Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with scallions and serve over hot jasmine rice.
In the Extremadura region of Spain that is home to pimentón de la vera, or Spanish smoked paprika, one is taught that exposure to high heat blunts the spice’s unique earthiness, smokiness and notes of fruit and tobacco. Tobacco?? Not really a term I would use to wax poetic about food, but read on…
In Extremadura, cooks know that with smoked paprika, timing is everything. This recipe illustrates how to best preserve pimentón’s unique flavors when searing is involved: the paprika is mixed with olive oil and then brushed onto butterflied and pounded pork tenderloin only after the meat has been browned in a hot skillet.
BTW, Spanish smoked paprika is available in different degrees of spiciness. For this dish, if you have the choice, opt for sweet (dulce) or bittersweet (agridulce). With only a handful of ingredients this dish comes together in no time.
One large tenderloin sufficed for just the two of us, plus we still had leftovers. However, we did not scale back on the paprika oil mixture, and used every scrap of it to douse the meat.
NOTE: Don’t use a heavy hand when pounding the pork, which can result in tears and uneven thickness. And when pounding, work from the center of the piece outward to the edges. We also find it helpful to lodge the meat between plastic wrap, which helps prevent tearing and promotes an even thickness.
Seared Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Paprika and Oregano
In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, smoked paprika, dried oregano and sugar; set aside.
Halve each tenderloin crosswise, then halve each piece lengthwise, stopping about ¼ inch short of cutting all the way through; open the meat like a book. Place meat on top of a long piece of plastic wrap and fold over to cover meat.
Using a meat pounder or mallet, pound the pork to an even ¼-inch thickness, then season each piece all over with ½ teaspoon salt.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of neutral oil until shimmering. Place 2 pieces of pork in the pan and cook undisturbed until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the seconds sides are browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
Lightly brush paprika oil onto each piece, then flip the pork and brush the second sides. Sear each side again for about 30 seconds, then transfer to a platter.
Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and pork. Brush the remaining paprika oil onto the pork, then let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the fresh oregano.