I read in a magazine that entertaining is like exercising.
It’s really hard work but you feel so good and invigorated once it’s done.
No matter how much time I spend clipping coupons, planning menus, making grocery lists, schlepping to the store, and then cooking, taking care of guests, and cleaning up, I never regret the time spent because I get so much out of it in return.
And like exercising, it gets easier over time, so I am constantly looking for new ways to challenge myself, either via an updated recipe, new decorations or centerpieces at the table, or inviting over new guests whose tastebuds and food preferences I have yet to learn.
This balsamic braised pork tenderloin with caramelized onions and apples, though a bit advanced in technique, was well worth the effort and made an impressive presentation at the dinner table (despite the not-so-impressive photographs).
Actually, I made very little effort when it came time to cook the pork because I tasked my little brother to do it.
I think part of the fun of entertaining is enlisting your guests to help you out here and there.
It’s a great way to engage with your guests while you’re still working in the kitchen pre-dinner time.
Good guests want to be helpful, so take advantage of this opportunity by striking up a great conversation while your guest checks on the temperature of the meat, washes a load of dishes, or fills your water glasses with ice.
It’s the little moments like these that I remember the most - perhaps even more so than the conversations had at the dinner table!
So I hope you’re inspired by the start of fall to invite over some friends and family and serve some delicious food in the comfort of your own home, no matter how small your place may be (I can attest to having a teeny place myself).
Just be sure to test the recipes out for yourself first before serving them to other people!
For more tips on entertaining, check out my post “How to be a Good Host.”
peaches & cake
Balsamic Braised Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onion and Apple
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Time: About 1 hr. 30 min
6 pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat, each 1 inch thick
Salt or garlic salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
5 medium red onions, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 large apple, sliced into ¼ inch matchsticks (Any kind. I used Fuji.)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
½ cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh thyme
Chopped fresh thyme or rosemary, for garnish
In a large stainless steel sauté pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and apple slices and partially cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fully caramelized and tender, about 45 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, and thyme. Cook until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, season the pork with salt or garlic salt and pepper. In a separate sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbsp. olive oil and swirl around the pan. Add the pork tenderloins and sear, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Add the pork tenderloins to the onions and apples. Continue cooking, uncovered, coating the chops with onions and sauce, for about 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork registers 140-145⁰F. Serve the pork with the caramelized onions and apples on top. Garnish with chopped fresh thyme or rosemary and serve immediately.