The hourglass has been flipped. Suddenly, the grains of sand begin to sift faster and faster into the vial below. I feel as if I’m grasping for a rope that’s suddenly just out of my reach. I’m becoming desperate, despondent. No, it isn’t a bad dream. It’s fall.
Despite the impression I may have just given you, I don’t dislike fall. Cool days, crunchy leaves, apples with baking spices, red wine and soul-warming comfort foods are among the many things I enjoy. It’s just that nagging season that comes on fall’s heels that makes me bemoan summer’s fade into autumn. It’s why I am digging my heels in, desperately trying to stop the shift from warm sunny days to brisk afternoons filled with falling leaves.
It is during this time of year that I find myself stumbling across summer recipes that I haven’t had a chance to squeeze in yet among the tomato/zucchini/cucumber/pepper/eggplant galore that is our garden. Some are old favorites, some are newly bookmarked, and I’m racing against time to try to fit them all in. Sadly, I won’t get to them all. It’s why I’m already dreaming of next year’s garden. Yes, I have spring fever. And yes, it’s only September.
There was something about this recipe that made me set it aside for a while, marking it as one to try in the early days of fall. Something about it said “cooler weather.” It was a recipe I could envision us enjoying as a cool breeze from the open windows dances across our table, and the light from the setting sun (much earlier these days, to my dismay) glimmers against the ruby colored wine in our glasses. Lucky for me, it turned out just as I envisioned.
Relatively simple to prepare, this is one of those fantastically devious recipes. As B said, this was something we easily would have enjoyed at restaurant prices and not felt a pang of guilt over having done so. But again, lucky for us, that wasn’t the case. Budget friendly to the extreme, this recipe uses inexpensive pork tenderloin and other refrigerator/pantry staples to create a showstopper of a meal once combined. The pork pinwheels were a symphony of slightly sweet and crunchy toasted pecans, savory and tender pork, and smoky rich bacon. With a drizzle of tangy Carolina mustard sauce, choruses of “mmmmmmm” and other words of praise soon filled our dinner conversation.
As the sun set on our perfect early fall dinner, I resigned myself to the fact that summer was drawing to a close. I’ll continue to glean as much from it as I can in the days remaining, but with recipes like this, fall doesn’t look so bad after all.
pecan-crusted pork tenderloin pinwheels with carolina mustard sauce
recipe: adapted from big bob gibson’s bbq book
¾ c. prepared yellow mustard
½ c. honey
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 pork tenderloin
6 bacon strips
1 c. finely chopped pecans (recommend using a food processor)
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Combine yellow mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine. Prepare 24 hours in advance for the best flavor. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Slice pork tenderloin in half lengthwise. Slice each half lengthwise into three long strips. Repeat with remaining tenderloin half. Using a meat tenderizer, lightly pound pork strips to flatten slightly. Place a strip of bacon on top of each pork tenderloin strip and roll into a pinwheel. Secure with two long toothpicks or medium-length skewers.
Combine pecans, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside about 1 c. Carolina mustard sauce. With the remaining sauce, lightly baste pork pinwheels and dredge in pecan mixture. Set aside and repeat with remaining pinwheels.
Preheat grill to medium high heat. Cook for 7-8 minutes per side or until the edges of the bacon start to crisp. Note – my grill runs hot. I reduced my temperature and paid close attention so as not to burn the pecan crust. You’ll want to watch this as well. Remove from the heat and serve with the reserved mustard sauce.
Enjoy the dwindling days of summer!
All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house