Nancy and I recently took a motorcycle trip down to Queen Wilhelmina State Park in southern Arkansas. As we try to do on all our trips, we tried to find those little nuggets of local deliciousness. We found one such place, Alice Irene's near Republic, Missouri. Just off the local, two-lane highway, Alice Irene's was a quintessential small town southern restaurant. We stepped in to have a look and Nancy was hooked by a plateful of catfish, one of her favorites.
As catfish is for Nancy, pork is to me. So, when I saw the smoked pork chop with apples and onions, I knew what I would have. It was as good as it sounded, smoky, sweet with a little something I wasn't sure of. So, of course I asked Alice, who was working the cash register.
I told her I loved the dish, but knew there was something in there more than the apples, onion and brown sugar, I just couldn't figure out what. Alice, who appeared to be well into her 80s, looked at me and gave me the coy little smile.
"Ginger," she whispered. "It's fresh ginger."
Ahh, and so it was.
When we got home, I set out to come up with my own version. Instead of smoked chops, I used a pork loin liberally crusted with my All-Around Spice Rub and pumped up the flavor of my apple mixture with some sweet Maderia wine.
I love the combination of apples and pork anyway, but this was like any other pork and apple dish I've had on steroids.The ginger enhanced every flavor and the pork was kept moist and flavorful. Every bite was a combination of spicy, sweet and savory. And you can really enjoy each one at only 273 calories with 3 grams of fat and 4 grams of fiber per serving!
Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Ginger Apples and Onion
Makes 8 servings
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons All-Around Spice Rub
2 medium red onions, chopped
6 medium apples (I used Granny Smith) chopped
2 inches fresh ginger, minced
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup Maderia (or other sweet red wine)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Rub spice rub into all sides of the tenderloin. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium-high heat.Sear the tenderloin on all sides, about 3 minutes a side.
Remove the tenderloin and set aside. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add wine, brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon stick. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low to medium low, return the pork and top with apples. Cover and cook until the pork is done, with an internal temperature of 145F, 30-45 minutes. Remove the pork and allow to rest, about 10 minutes. The temperature should rise 10-15 degrees while it rests.
Meanwhile, increase heat to medium, add parsley to the apple mixture and continue to cook. Serve the apple mixture over the pork.