new year - paprika and fried shallot pork tenderloins

back is still giving me gyp but i am learning to live with the pain, in a way that one learns to deal with irritations - like sharing room with a stranger or having an ingrowing toenail. on the plus side, it makes all other aches and pains seem trivial. i have breezed through a nasty cold, the kind i’ve not seen for decades. it felt minor and, somehow unexpectedly, terminal. in a weirdly self-obsessed way, i have enjoyed monitoring its progress, feeling a little better each day, and knowing it will peter out soon.

anyway, despite my less-than-stoic approach to pain, i have cooked a little more. i guess another reason for my laziness in the kitchen is the winter. i love food but my heart sinks at the sight of the fridge full of cabbages and celeriac. it has felt like a long winter too - properly cold, with lots of snow.

incidentally, as soon as the snow starts falling, i seem to become a self-appointed expert on the stuff. much to my own annoyance, i can’t seem to stop myself from making slightly pompous and entirely unhelpful remarks about the various aspects of it. like – the sky is a bit yellow, that usually means it’s going to snow properly. or – no, that’s not real snow, the flakes are tiny and i am sure it will stop soon. it’s as if eighteen years of sarajevo winters have somehow made me into an expert. i have to remember to bite my tongue a bit more often, or i'll become a parody of myself.

anyway, nothing much to say about this dish except it was the first in ages i've felt like noting down. it's an amalgamation of two recipes which somehow worked quite well together - the slightly spicy pork, redolent of chorizo, tasted better with the addition of shallots and thyme. i'd say you should definitely fry the shallots in butter rather than oil, as that is what makes them so sweet.

for two

2 pork tenderloins, about 200g each
1 heaped tsp sweet paprika
4 banana shallots
1 tbsp chopped thyme
20g butter
olive oil

preheat the oven to 200C. rub the paprika all over the pork, then oil lightly and season with salt and pepper. leave to stand for a little while. chop the shallots and fry them in hot butter until they are crispy and brown. drain on kitchen paper, then mix with the chopped thyme and a little sea salt..

now heat a little oil in an ovenproof frying pan and brown the tenderloins on all sides. stick the pan in the oven for 12-15 minutes - do check after a while as you really don't want to overcook it. once it's done, leave to rest for a few minutes, then serve with the shallot mix on the side.


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