After a long week of pure, unadulterated laziness, followed by a weekend at my parents’ house involving mostly macaroni and cheese and iced coffee, I decided it was high time I got back into cooking a vegetable that wasn’t slathered in fat.
Luckily for me, I had forgotten to skip this week’s Hello Fresh order – thanks, auto ship! – and the decision was made for me. When I came back from mooching off my parents for the weekend, I was greeted by the sight of a large box at my door containing my honey-glazed pork tenderloin, one-pan orzo Italiano, and chicken cheddar fajitas.
I decided that the first meal I would start off with would be the one I was most skeptical of: The pork tenderloin paired with roasted sweet potatoes and green beans. I’m a gotta-pour-cheese-on-everything kinda gal, and this bit of business didn’t contain an ounce of dairy product. However, my recipe sheet indicated that this particular meal was a Hello Hall of Famer, so I set my aside my cynicism and got to work. Besides, when it comes to food, I like get my least-favorite items off my plate first so that I can better enjoy the more delicious entrées without distraction (usually carbs). If only I would apply this sage advice to things in my life that actually mattered.
But, I digress.
I started with the sweet potatoes by scrubbing them down, making a mess of peeling them, and then nervously dicing them up with a knife, one I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have been using for that particular task. After chopping them into cubes, I put them on parchment paper over a baking sheet, drizzled them with oil, salt, and pepper, and popped them in the oven for 10 minutes.
Next came the pork. After cutting it into two pieces, I dried it out with a paper towel, again sprinkled some salt and pepper, and placed it in a pan of sizzling oil.
By now, my sweet potatoes were done. I pulled them out of the oven and anxiously eyeballed the now-browning parchment paper, inflicted with memories of when I’d started a small fire in my oven, and then spent the entire evening airing out my apartment while wiping fire extinguisher expellant from every crevice of my kitchen.
This is also about the time in the process when things get hectic – when you’re using your timer to track at least two different things on your stove while simultaneously trying to dice a garlic clove into minuscule pieces and growing more aware of the extensive mess you’re making.
Panicked I was going to overdo my tenderloin, I rushed to rinse off my green beans and dumped them on the other half of the baking sheet alongside my sweet potatoes. They, too, got the royal salt, pepper, and oil treatment, and I pushed the tray back into the oven.
Next came the tricky part. Now that my pork was done cooking over the stove, I would have to overcome the biggest hurdle I had yet to face that evening: Cooking my pork tenderloin in the oven alongside my vegetables while only having one timer.
Fortunately, dear reader, I know how to math. Kind of.
Last on the to-do list was to make the glaze – perhaps the step I was most nervous about, considering my affinity for burning all things liquid. And solid. And gaseous. The glaze was a delicious mix of minced garlic, thyme, chicken stock, water, honey, and butter, and I was excited to soak my entire meal in it.
Once my timer went off, however, I was faced with yet another problem. Unfortunately, space is not a luxury in my kitchen. My roommate and I love to fill our counter space with appliances that we never actually use but like owning. Fearing for the well-being of my freshly cooked food, I made the quick decision to precariously balance my tray of vegetables atop a stack of dirty dishes next to the sink, and my pork tenderloins on the other side of the sink next to the clean dishes. (I know, I know. DO YOUR DISHES!)
Relieved that I was finally free to taste my creation, I dished myself a plate and nearly dumped my pork into the sink. After a bout of colorful language and rebalancing myself, I finally escaped to my living room to eat.
The pork was a bit overdone and dry, but was saved by the almighty grace of the delicious glaze, which created the perfect sweet and salty combination that I also (and rightly) added to my veggies. The green beans, I felt, could have been cooked a bit more, but the sweet potatoes were just the right melt-in-your-mouth ending for my Goldilocks adventure.
Amanda Push is a writer who wishes she lived with a cat and just wants to learn how to not eat like a college student anymore. Contact her at [email protected]