Weeknight cooking is all about getting gobs of flavor from just a few ingredients, no special techniques and as little effort as possible.
The trick is in finding those big, boldly flavored ingredients and knowing how to get them to do all (or at least most) of the work for you. Which isn’t to suggest there is any great science to this. My rule of thumb: Find an ingredient, grab a hunk of meat, toss them together in a bowl for a while, then see what happens.
That’s pretty much how I came up with this wildly flavorful take on grilled pork tenderloin. And actually, I didn’t even use pork the first time around.
All I did was whisk together mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine), a bit of kosher salt and some garlic powder. I tossed in a hunk of steak, then walked away for a while. A few minutes on the grill and I had one of the most flavorful, well-seared steaks I’d ever enjoyed. Best yet, it was a cheap piece of steak that was pretty much at the end of its shelf life.
The next time I made it, I switched the meat to pork. The results were even better.
I could have stopped there, but I also wanted to give this dish a seasonal touch. I just didn’t want much extra work. Since apples and pork work so nicely together, that seemed like the right place to start. I also liked the idea of playing the apples off mirin’s sweet side.
All it took was a simple saute of chopped apples, onions and – for big, effortless flavor and a nice thick body – some purchased sweet chutney. The result? An incredible dinner for fall.
Mirin Pork Chops with Apple Chutney
You’ll find mirin in the Asian or international sections of most grocers. The chutney should be nearby, too. It’s good to let the pork marinate for at least 30 minutes, but you can get away with 10 minutes or so if you’re pressed for time. Even better: toss the meat in the marinade in the morning and let it absorb the flavor all day.
1 cup mirin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds pork tenderloin, halved lengthwise and pounded evenly flat
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
10 1/2-ounce jar sweet chutney (such as mango)
In a large bowl, whisk together the mirin, garlic powder and salt. Add the pork and turn to coat well. Refrigerate until ready to cook. The pork can be marinated for as little as 10 minutes or up to all day.
When ready to cook, heat a grill to high. Using a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs, oil the grill grates.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the pork. Grill for 6 minutes per side. Set aside to rest.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and onion and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chutney.
To serve, thinly slice the pork and top each serving with the apple chutney.
Yield: 6 servings
Approximate nutrition per serving: 400 calories, 11 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated, 25 percent total fat calories), 32 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrate, 105 milligrams cholesterol, 12 grams sugar, 2 grams fiber, 940 milligrams sodium.