Ah spring! Those first warm breezes that coax the daffodils to open, entice us to crack the windows and begin airing out our stale winter homes and step forth into the sunlight finally free of coats and sweaters. Gloriously soaking in renewal of spirit we venture out to brunch in the open air and wander farm markets in search of spring’s first bounty.
Yeah, about that… I’ve been cooking at farm markets for the past 8 years and can tell you, unequivocally that those first warm days in your neighborhood are also the first warm days on the farm. While you doff your long sleeves the asparagus is just pushing up out of the ground and the strawberries are contemplating setting bud to flower – a far cry from the sweet red fruit that will send juices running down your chin and into a pie with some rhubarb in just a few short weeks.
So what’s a spring starved cook to do? Take winter ingredients and make them taste like spring. Shred celery root for a slaw and toss it in a light, poppyseed vinaigrette. Glaze carrots in apricot jam with a hint of heat from red pepper flakes. Or take quick-cooking pork tenderloin and glaze it in honey and ginger, sprinkled with chives, one of the first herbs to break ground just as the season begins.
When cooking it don’t be afraid to leave the pork a bit pink. The important thing for food safety is that the internal temperature reaches 145 while resting. Cooking it to a higher temp will result in that dry, tough pork we’re all so afraid of.
When you broil the pork with the glaze, set the rack 8” below from the heating element so the sugars have time to cook into a sticky, sweet glaze without burning. If you see them start to burn, remove the pan and lower the oven rack. So, happy spring, despite the cruel tease of crocuses and sunshine. May will be here soon enough.
Honey and Chive Glazed Pork
Serves 6 – 8 The earthy flavors of sweet honey and oniony chives give this pork a light, fresh flavor, perfect for a spring dinner or brunch. Make extra, it tastes great cold the next day for lunch.Ingredients:
2 cups rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs soy sauce
1 cup minced chives
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 package of two pork tenderloins, about 1 ¼ lbs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1” ginger, cut in rounds
Whisk together 1 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, soy sauce, 1/2 cup chives, garlic, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Place pork tenderloins in a freezer bag and add marinade. Marinate at least 2 hours and no more than 4.
Remove tenderloins from bag, reserving marinade, and pat dry. Heat oven to 400 F.
Heat 2 tbs oil in a 12” oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add tenderloins and sear on all sides, tucking under the thin tails so the meat cooks evenly.
Place skillet in oven and cook tenderloin to 135 degrees, about 15 minutes.
While pork cooks, in a small sauce pan stir together remaining rice wine vinegar, honey and chives with brown sugar and ginger. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced to a syrupy glaze.
Brush tenderloins with glaze, return to oven and broil on a rack set 8” from heat. Cook 2-3 minutes. Glaze again and cook 2-3 minutes longer, being careful not to burn the sugar. Remove pork from oven and reserve on a plate, tented with foil.
Return skillet to medium-high, and add marinade. Boil for 5 minutes, then whisk in any juices that have accumulated under the pork. Slice tenderloins and serve with sauce.
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Jonathan Bardzik is a DC-based storyteller, cook, keynote speaker and author of three books inspired by the fresh, seasonal ingredients he finds in the garden and at farm markets. Self taught, Jonathan seeks to inspire home cooks with the belief that life can and should be lived well, something we can do everyday by preparing and sharing simple, delicious food with those we love. Find over 250 recipes and short stories, Jonathan’s schedule of live appearances and his books at JonathanBardzik.com