Fall Harvest On A Plate: Pork Tenderloin Over Apples, Red Onions and Squash
Any lingering doubts have been pushed to the side and run over like a door greeter at a Black Friday sale.
Fall has arrived, apparently bringing the start of winter along for the ride. And as is usually the case, accompanying rains and wind immediately followed, wiping away nature’s beautiful colors just as they peak. With these seasonal changes comes earlier sunsets and our unexplained yearning for heartier meals that warm our bellies and satisfy our bigger appetites.
Why not use what the new season provides and make it delicious? Indeed we shall, constructing a Fall harvest dutch oven meal featuring a seared pork tenderloin surrounded by seasonal beauties like apples, squash, and red onion. Let’s get choppin’.
The prep work included approximately three cups each of cubed red onion (2 medium), granny smith apples (3 apples), and butternut squash.
Sprinkle with a bit of vegetable oil and kosher salt, a goodly amount of crushed garlic (I used 5 cloves), 1 Tbsp of finely chopped sage, and 3/4 tsp of allspice.
Stir it up, with your best stirring technique. Then leave them in a large bowl to get acquainted.
With a grill set up for indirect cooking, a pork tenderloin (this one was 1 1/3 pounds) is prepped with kosher salt and cracked black pepper and then seared on all sides over a hardwood fire.
You’ll notice that at the same time, a dutch oven with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil is being preheated.
Once a good sear is on the pork, I positioned it in the center of the pot.
Blanket and tuck that tenderloin in with the cubed apples and veggies, shoving them all around the pork to fill in space around the meat. Move the whole shebang a little closer to the heat, and if you want, throw a piece of applewood on the fire to give the one-pot meal an extra layer of subtle flavor while the pot is uncovered.
I left it uncovered for about the first fifteen minutes. For the next 40 minutes, the cover was on and the pot was rotated every 12 minutes or so. If I had to do it over again, I would pre-cook the squash a bit, as the rest of the dish actually finished cooking first. I had to leave the pot on a few minutes longer than I originally wanted, causing the apples to get softer than I would’ve liked.
That being said, the aroma coming out of this pot was crazy good, the sweetness of the apples and onion contrasting with the apple tartness and the smokiness of the pork. I spooned out the veggie and apple mix onto a serving platter, building a platform of sorts for the pork tenderloin, which was now happily resting on the cutting board, awaiting the slicing.
A knife slid through the pork tenderloin like butter. Then, keeping the shape together, the slices were nestled into their bed of roasted granny smiths, red onions, and butternut squash.
Now you would think this would be good enough, and I can vouch that it indeed is. Buuuut, just in case you’re looking for some sort of pan or drizzling sauce to go with this, read on my friend, read on.
2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar is added to the dutch oven, back on the grill. The mixture is positioned directly over an amped-up hardwood fire so the warmed vinegar can be swished around to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
A cup of apple juice is added and then brought to a boil to hopefully reduce and thicken.
This process still didn’t get me to the consistency that I was hoping for, so a small cup of unsweetened applesauce was added and stirred in while the mix was kept boiling. This little experiment turned out to be just right, so the sauce was then drizzled over the tenderloin, adding a tanginess to the mix.
Once plated, the pork, as always, pairs beautifully with the roasted granny smith apples, red onion, and squash. The pork tenderloin kept its flavor, seared in at the very beginning, and only gets complemented by the surrounding harmony of the apples and veggies.
All while the temperature drops, the colorful foliage falls, and the now barren landscape is left to rest, reset and get ready to renew itself again in just a few short months.
Because Life Is Better Wood Fired