Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Zingy Rice

DInner, Gluten free

Pig pig pig!  I love pig.  Fat pigs. Delicious pigs.  Mmmm.  Pig.  I must confess though, tenderloin is not my favorite part of a lovely pig.  Think about all your options- bacon, pork belly, baby back ribs, country style ribs, ham, pork chops.  And then there’s the tenderloin.  It’s temperamental. It’s begging for some added flavor because of it’s lack of yummy fat.  Overcook it and you may as well feed it to the family dog.  Pork tenderloin, you are a moody, skinny, bitch.  I usually don’t have time for it, unless it’s on sale for 50% off at the butcher shop.  Then, you’re all mine!

So, what to do with this pork tenderloin.  Flavor that sucka up!  I’m thinking Chinese five spice, oranges, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and caramelized onions.  RIght- all intense pow flavors.  And then that tenderloin is singing in your mouth instead of curses flowing out of your mouth from another tasteless, dry tenderloin.

Another fabulous thing about this recipe?  It’s a make-ahead meal and perfect for entertaining.  Just begin marinating the meat in the morning and make your caramelized onions ahead too.  Then, when it comes to party time, reheat your onions, cook your rice, and throw your tenderloin in the oven.  Serve with a nice, green side like sugar snap peas or broccoli. Impressed guests.

pork tenderloin 2

Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Zingy Rice

Serves 4, plus some nice leftovers for lunch the next day


  • 2 pork tenderloins, usually sold as one package
  • 3 oranges
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/4 cilantro, finely chopped
  • zest of 1 orange


  • In a gallon size zip-lock bag, add the juice of oranges, the soy sauce, the rice vinegar, and 2 tsp of the Chinese five spice.  Slosh together.  Add the tenderloins to the marinade and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, and up to 8. *
  • After the meat had marinated, preheat your oven to 500 degrees.  Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes and then flip over and bake for another 10 minutes.  The internal temp should be around 140 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Pour your leftover marinade into a small sauce pan, and bring to a boil.  Continue to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Brush onto the nicely rested tenderloins.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp butter.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook for 15 minutes.  If the onions begin to brown too much, turn the heat down.
  • Add 1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice, the juice of 1/2 an orange, and the honey.  Continue to cook on low heat for 10 minutes, until everything is a lovely caramel color.

caramelized onions

  • To make the rice, bring 1 3/4 cups of water, 1 tbsp butter, and a pinch of salt to a boil.  Add the rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Then add the orange zest and cilantro. RIce is done.
  • To serve, put some rice on your plate.  Top with some pretty slices of tenderloin, and spoon some caramelized onions over.  Say a little thank you for delicious piggies, and enjoy.

(*Oops, did you forget to marinade the pork early?  Yeah, I do that all the time.  No worries.  Just rub your meat down (hehehe) with a tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook as instructed above.  Put your marinade ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Then, brush the marinade onto the tenderloins once cooked.  Problem solved.)

pork tenderloin 5


Spicy Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Fig Skewers


sweet potato sausage fig 1

When my bestie called me last week and asked if I could cater a real estate brokers’ open house, I literally jumped up and down in my kitchen for 5 minutes straight.  I was all like, “Hold up, you’re telling me I get to do what I love AND make money doing it?  Hells yeah!”  And then after I chilled out, I realized, “Oh crap, now I actually have to work.”

So, I made 4 lovely appetizers for the evening, and man, it was fun.  I had the luxury of hanging out with adults only for 3 hours, feed them, and drink the home seller’s delicious wine.  Can’t beat it. These spicy sausage, sweet potato, and fig skewers were definitely the highlight of the evening, and thus, I will share with you lucky folks.  I was inspired by a recipe from Yotom Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalemwhich is a sweet potato and fig salad with a balsamic reduction.  I decided to make it into an appetizer, and it works… really well.  And it’s simple too.

Spicy Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Fig Skewers (with a balsamic jalapeno reduction)

Makes 48 skewers


  • 6 spicy sausages, each sliced into 8 pieces.  Use something that won’t fall apart when sliced.  I used Aidell’s Habenero Pepper Jack Sausage.
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 inch cubes
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 12 fresh figs, quartered
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds
  • 48 small skewers


  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toss together your cubes of sweet pertater, olive oil, and a good pinch of salt. (Side note- to get even cubes of potato, I usually slice off the 4 rounded sides of the potato, as well as the tips. Then I’m left with a pretty decent rectangle of tuber.)
  • Bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.  While the sweet potato is in the oven, put your sausage on another baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  • Once the 15 minutes is up, turn your sweet potatoes and put back in the oven, ALONG with the sausage for another 15 minutes.
  • While everything is cooking, you can make the balsamic reduction to drizzle over the skewers.  Yum.  In a small saucepan, add the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and jalapeno.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 3-4 minutes until it’s the consistency of honey.  Remove from the heat.
  • Once your sweet potato and sausage have cooled enough to handle, put a piece of sweet potato, a piece of sausage, and a piece of fig onto a skewer.  Plate and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
  • Eat.  Then notice the sound of angels singing your praises.
"Lalalala"- that's the angels singing.

“Lalalala”- that’s the angels singing.

Thanks again Erin Lewis (my bestie) and Missy Walden, for offering me this fantastic catering opportunity!