Looking for a simple but inspired supper idea on a scorcher of a summer day, I decided to make this recipe in Virginia Willis’s latest book, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up For Company (Ten Speed Press). The quick-brined tenderloins are moist and flavorful with nothing more than the ultra-fast peach preserve and mustard glaze that is part of the recipe, but her “Brilliant: Short Recipe” suggestion puts them over the top. While the tenderloins grill, whip up a quick cornbread batter and, to save time, cook them like pancakes on top of the stove. Serve them as an accompaniment, or do what Willis recommends and use them to make sandwiches with the sliced pork. They’re sturdy enough to hold in your hand! I served them with Green Beans and Buttery Peaches also from Willis’s book – an unusual combo that works surprisingly well, and continues the peach theme without overdoing it.
1/4 cup Kosher salt
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups boiling water
3 cups ice cubes
2 (1 1/2 to 2 pound) pork tenderloins
1/2 cup peach preserves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
Chive Cornmeal Griddle Cakes (optional; recipe follows)
1. Combine the salt and brown sugar in a heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add the ice cubes and stir to cool. Add the tenderloins, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate to marinate, about 30 minutes. Remove from the brine, rinse well, and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. (Do not brine any longer or the pork will be too salty.)
2. Meanwhile, stir together the peach preserves, rosemary, and mustard in a small bowl.
3. Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. Or, preheat a gas grill to high or grill pan over high heat. Season the tenderloins with pepper. Place the meat on the grill, and grill, turning once, until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, about 15 minutes.
4. Brush with the peach-mustard mixture during the last few minutes. Remove to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil to rest and let the juices redistribute, about 5 minutes. Slice on the diagonal and serve immediately with the remaining sauce on the side.
Chive Cornmeal Griddle Cakes:
Whisk together 1 cup white cornmeal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a bowl. Whisk together 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1 large egg in a small bowl until smooth; add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Pour about 3 tablespoons batter for each cake onto a hot, lightly greased griddle. Cook the griddle cakes until the tops are covered with bubbles and the edges look cooked, about 3 minutes; turn and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and pat dry with a paper towel to remove the excess oil.
Serve alongside the pork, or sandwich slices of the pork between 2 griddle cakes with any remaining sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 12 griddle cakes for 6 sandwiches.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.