Normally around this time of year, I am doing my spring cleaning on the grill and getting ready to cook outside nearly every day of the week. But with this extended winter we are having, I have to settle on cooking outside only once or twice a week. That’s OK with me because I am equally handy around a kitchen, and I get to experiment with dishes I’ve had success grilling and make them work on the stove or in the oven.
Every Christmas, my wife buys me a bag of dried porcini mushrooms, and I immediately grab a bunch and throw them into the coffee grinder that I use specifically for spices and grind them into small flakes. These I store for when I want to add a little extra layer of flavor to a sauce, gravy or a roasted meat. One dish that I really enjoy is grilled pork tenderloin encrusted with the porcini powder.
On the grill, I have been able to keep the meat from drying out, but have had less success in the oven, finding that the tenderloin’s low fat content doesn’t provide enough moisture in the pan. So I started adding vegetables and a little liquid, and so far my favorite combo is cabbage and beer.
I got the idea for the cabbage because my Mom’s 75th birthday is coming and I have been thinking about what to cook. I recalled the favorite dishes of my youth, and the one I kept coming back to was roly-polys, basically a mix of ground beef and rice rolled up in a cabbage leaf and roasted in the oven.
Porcini-Encrusted Pork Tenderloins in Cabbage and Beer
1 tablespoon ground dried porcini mushrooms
½ tablespoon coarse salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small cabbage, coarsely chopped into 1- to 2-inch chunks
6 ounces beer
In a large shallow bowl, combine the mushrooms, half the salt, peppers, sage, and paprika. Roll the tenderloins in the seasoning mix until coated. Set aside and allow to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
To roast: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In an oven-safe pan, heat the olive oil on the stove over medium heat. Add the onions and, while stirring frequently, cook until softened.
Push the onions to the edges of the pan and add the tenderloins. Turn every 5 minutes until browned on all sides.
Add the cabbage and stir until coated with the oil. Add remaining salt and beer and place in the oven. Cook until the internal temperature of the pork is 145 to 150 degrees, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before carving and serving.
To grill: Set the fire for indirect heat. Grill the pork directly over the hot edge of the grill and brown on all sides. Move to the cooler side of the grill and cover. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 10 minutes.
For the cabbage, add a small amount of the spice mix, oil, beer, and cabbage to an aluminum pan placed halfway between the high heat and the low heat locations on the grill. Stir occasionally and add more beer if the cabbage appears to be drying out.
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