I had a second pork tenderloin left after making my dinner last night (pork tenderloin with mushroom goat cheese sauce), so I decided to roast it for dinner tonight. I had some avocados on-hand and was thinking about making pork tacos with guacamole and salsa, but when I got started I decided to try something a bit different. It’s been a while since I’ve cooked lentils, and that sounded like a nice side-dish. I still wanted to use my avocados, and tomatillos sounded good, so I decided to use them for a sauce that nicely complemented the lentils.
I roast a lot of tomatillos and poblanos, so tonight I decided to roast, puree, and freeze a big batch so that I have a good starter for sauces and salsas in the future (especially this summer when pre-heating my oven to 425-degrees is not in the cards). Basically, I pureed together just tomatillos, poblanos, a jalapeno, cilantro, lemon and lime juice. I used only 1/2 cup of the roasted tomatillo mixture to make the sauce for dinner tonight – I expect the frozen leftovers will be a nice time-saver for future meals. I can doctor this starter as I choose for other sauces.
In terms of timing, I prepared the pork marinade, and then started on the tomatillo sauce. Once the tomatillos were roasting, I started the lentils. After the lentils were starting to get soft, I began to cook the pork, which was ready to go in the oven once the roasted tomatillos and poblanos were done. While the pork roasted I finished cooking the lentils and prepared the avocado sauce.
For the marinade, whisk together in a small bowl:
- 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Jack Daniels)
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar (preferably unfiltered)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (preferably low-sodium)
- 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. honey (I like to use local honey)
Place marinade in a zip-top bag with:
- 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of any excess fat and silver skin
Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees (if you’re roasting the tomatillos, it should already be pre-heated). When you are ready to cook the pork, place in a heavy-bottomed skillet:
- 1 tsp. olive oil
Heat the oil until it shimmers, then add the pork tenderloin to the pan. Cook over medium heat just until the pork is browned on all sides. If the pan is oven-safe transfer the pan to the oven. Otherwise, transfer the pork to a small roasting pan and place in the oven. Cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let stand for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
When cooking lentils, it’s easiest to spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet before rinsing to get rid of any pebbles or other things you want to remove before cooking. In a small sauce-pan, add:
- 1 tsp. olive oil
Cook over medium heat until it shimmers, then add to the pan:
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until the onions are starting to soften. Add:
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt (you can add more if you prefer as the lentils cook)
Bring the water to a boil, then add:
- 2/3 cup brown lentils (brown lentils will hold their shape better than other varieties)
Once the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer (stirring occasionally) for about 30-minutes until the lentils are tender. Drain any remaining water, cover, and set aside until the pork is ready to serve.
As I noted above, I made a really big batch of roasted tomatillo-poblano sauce. It includes the basics that I’ve put together for a lot of recipes: roasted tomatillos, poblanos, and jalapeno, along with cilantro and citrus juice. To begin, I placed on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet (to help with clean-up):
- 1.5 pounds tomatillos – husks removed and scrubbed free of sticky residue
- 2 poblano peppers
- 1 jalapeno pepper
Place the baking sheet in a pre-heated 425-degree oven and roast, turning occasionally, for about 30 minutes (until they have brown spots and the tomatillos are quite soft). Transfer the tomatillos to a large bowl, and place the peppers into a paper bag to steam. Once the peppers have cooled, remove the skin, carefully cut open and remove the ribs and seeds. Add the peppers to the roasted tomatillos.
Add to this bowl:
- 1/2 pound raw tomatillos – husks removed, scrubbed clean, and chopped
- juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
- leaves from 1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped (this was probably close to one cup) – it’s a lot of cilantro and if you prefer you can omit it. But if you like cilantro, I’d suggest you use the whole bunch.
- 1 tsp. salt
Using an immersion blender (or working in batches in a food processor or blender), puree this mixture. Reserve 1/2 cup for the avocado sauce, then freeze the remaining sauce.
For the avocado sauce, combine in a medium bowl:
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed with a fork
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup of tomatillo sauce
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- salt to taste