Closing out week 3 is Ashley Tate, staff editor of Real Simple and Money Rant blogger on Simply Stated. For the print magazine, Ashley edits the Moneywise section and the Discounts & Deals page in the back of the magazine.
I grew up in a small town in southwest Kansas. (Please don’t ask how many Wizard of Oz references I’ve endured through the years.) Some years during the county fair, my dad’s business would buy a pig from a child who raised the animal as a 4-H project. Then all that following winter, the freezer would be stuffed with locally-grown pork. As a result, I love eating pork in just about every form—loin, chop, belly, shoulder, and of course, bacon. So making the Balsamic-glazed Pork with Lentils recipe was right up my alley.
My husband does most of the cooking in our household since he is home much earlier every evening than I. But instead of letting him handle this entire meal, we decided to tag-team on it. Unfortunately, we hit a snag right off the bat. The grocery store we normally shop at didn’t have green lentils—only red. It was our first time making lentils, so we weren’t sure if we could make the substitution. (I think we could have, but I was trying to follow directions.) So off to Whole Foods, for a package of the green variety. But then we hit snag #2: The lentil package instructed us to soak them for eight hours before cooking. So we tossed them in a pot to soak overnight and called for pizza. (Disclaimer: I spoke with our food director, and she said that she has never soaked lentils.)
Making the recipe the following night was a breeze. The husband chopped the apple, celery and parsley while I focused on the stovetop where I was simmered the lentils and browned the pork. (The package of meat we bought came with two tenderloins, so I just put the extra in a baggie and tossed it in the freezer.) I didn’t really follow the instructions on how long it would take to get the tenderloin nice and dark on the outside, but it was easy to see when it needed to go into the oven.
Basting the pork with the balsamic glaze while it was cooking in the oven was simple. Next time, I will probably thicken the glaze on the stove before adding it to the pork (even though that will dirty a pot that needs to be hand-washed afterwards). It slid right off the meat, so I felt like we missed out on some of the yummy flavor.
We served the pork and the lentil salad alongside some oven-roasted potato wedges (the husband claimed that he needed a starch) and a glass of Pinot Noir. The meat was quite flavorful and perfectly moist (i.e. slightly pink) after cooking it for just 10 minutes. And the lentils were deemed a winner, too.
Even our dog Normandy wanted to get in on the tasting action.