Grilled pork tenderloin & spiced eggplant is my latest "creation". We eat a good amount of pork tenderloin in our house but not a ton of eggplant. So I'm on a bit of a mission to incorporate more eggplant into our diet. This spiced eggplant recipe is simply divine. Layers of flavour in it and it goes well with multiple proteins - more on this later. Pork is life. We are partial to cooking pork tenderloin a bit in the house as it's less fatty than other parts of the piggy. Stops Mrs. AnotherFoodBlogger complaining about the fat content. Although, after a few glasses of wine on a Friday night she is quick to ask for a bacon and egg sambo in the morning 😉
pork tenderloin vs pork loin
A lot of people get confused with the pork tenderloin and pork loin. They are often used to describe the other unknowingly to us!! The tenderloin which can often be called the pork fillet is exactly what it says. The "tender" part of the pig. Lower in fat content than other cuts it's the "royals royce" of the pig. Although truthfully I am partial to a bit of pork belly ;). The tenderloin is cut from the backbone of the pig. It's a long cylinder shape that is boneless and often weighs about 3-500g.
Pork loin sounds similar but in fact, is from a completely part of the pig. The loin comes from the back of the animal, is wider, flatter and can be either boneless or bone-in. Typically, the loin can be cooked as one large piece for a family roast or cut into steaks and grilled.
So, when you read a recipe that calls for pork tenderloin and says cook for about 10 - 15 minutes best not to get the larger loin!!
cooking pork tenderloin and pork loin
The tenderloin or fillet is a lean cut of meat, often described as "extra lean" so it's susceptible to drying out quickly. Typically cooked as one whole piece or cut into individual portions about 180+g per person it is most commonly pan-fried and finished in the oven. Pork like all meats should be rested before cutting or serving to allow the juices to rest. I recommend pork tenderloin to be cooked to about 56-60c and rested for a minimum of 5 minutes before cutting or serving. This way you will have a beautifully juicy piece of pork that has a touch of pink to it.
Cooking pork loin is a touch different. It's a larger piece of meat ranging from 1kg - 4kg in size. It has a good layer of fat along the top so it's often salted heavily and cooked in the oven at high heat to crisp up the fat or crackling. The loin can be cut into individual steaks, marinated and grilled. When you see the loin bone in it's often called "racks". Much like the tenderloin, it is a lean cut of meat so not to be overcooked as it will dry out easily too.
The most important thing to take into consideration when cooking meat is when cooking to X temperature ALWAYS cook it a couple degrees less, allow the meat to rest sufficiently and during this time you will hit the desired "finished" temperature you are looking for.
can i use another cut of pork?
This recipe calls for pork tenderloin. I use it because of the lower fat content and the speed in cooking. This doesn't mean you can't use another cut. Feel free to substitute the chops, cutlets, steaks or belly for the recipe. Just remember cooking times may vary significantly so bare this in mind for the day of the week you are eating too!! For me, the best substitute is a grilled bone-in pork chop.
spicy eggplant & how to make it
This part couldn't be any easier. The beauty of it too is you can make the eggplant in advance and it will keep just fine for a couple days in the fridge!! That means if you are semi-organised you can reheat it and all you need to do is cook your pork! If, like me, your days are a little crazy then don't fear because it's pretty damn quick to make anyway!
Chop the eggplant into 1cm cubes and into the pan with some olive oil. You want to saute the eggplant for 10 - 12 minutes so that you get some good colour and caramelisation on it. Stir it a few times so it doesn't burn but essentially just let the pan do the work! Add the chopped onion and cook for a further 4 - 5 minutes, sweating the onion out and then hit the pan with the herbs and spices. It really couldn't be any easier. Spicy, sweet and acidic eggplant
can i cook the eggplant in advance?
Totally! In fact, I cooked this batch in advance myself. I knew I was putting our daughter to bed myself and the "boss" would be home late so I wanted to try get ahead of the game. How many times have you told yourself that as a parent?? Anyway, I figured I would make her a sambo and during the few mins she was munching on it I would start the cooking process. The beauty is it's quick to prep and doesn't require much work once it's hit the pan.
If cooking it in advance don't add the lemon juice or parsley until you reheat it. I found that when pre-cooking it the spices have a little more time to hang out and become more present. Either way if you are making this pork tenderloin & spiced eggplant recipe in advance or to order it's a quick and simple recipe that won't have you slaving over the stove for too long!
what can i use instead of pork
So you're not a fan of pork? Personally, I don't get it but no stress! The spicy eggplant portion of the dish works BRILLIANTLY with some grilled chicken, whole roasted chicken, a nice juicy steak or even go vegetarian and make yourself a cauliflower steak. I've served this up as one of many sides for a large family meal and it's been a HIT. Personally, I love the pork tenderloin & spiced eggplant dish as a whole but it's defo an interchangeable one.
how to make crispy kale
Easy peasy. Firstly whack on the oven to about 180c. Then tear the kale or cut if you prefer from the stalk. You can decide if you want larger pieces or smaller pieces. Whatever takes your fancy!! Give the kale a good wash. Rinse it underwater and dry , dry, dry. I had my mum over and introduced her to my salad spinner (after watching her dab away at lettuce midweek, leaving about 100ml of water still attached!). At first, she was like "I don't need this contraption" but after giving it a few spins and seeing the amount of water left in the spinner she was converted.
Removing the excess water is VERY important. You want the kale to crisp up as fast as possible and not to steam so, well water = moisture! Drizzle the kale in oil, I used olive oil but sesame oil would add a lovely nuttiness to the kale too and a pinch of salt too. The key to the success of crispy kale is KEEP AN EYE ON IT. It can go from green to brown in an instant. I cooked mine for 10 minutes but after 8 minutes I was keeping an eye on it constantly. You may need to take some out, give it a shake and put the rest back in for a minute or too.
Right now, the most IMPORTANT thing in life. Being stuck at home all day everyday except for the RIDICULOUS amount of exercise I'm doing to burn off the alcohol content that's being consumed. So with that being said I enjoyed a delicious Riposte "the sabre" 2017 pinot noir from Adelaide Hills with this delicious pork tenderloin & spiced eggplant. Pairing food and wine can be both challenging and rewarding. When you hit the nail on the head it's pretty damn satisfying!! These guys were defo friends. So much so I didn't even need a hammer (#terribledadjoke).
Pinot noir is often a go to pairing with pork. But don't just automatically assume they will work together. It's always important to think of what is being served with the pork. The umami flavours that the caramelised eggplant has along with the lovely herbal and spiced notes from the oregano & paprika match beautifully with this earthy Riposte pinot. I found this pinot to be a little meatier than others I have drunk recently with good savoury notes like mushroom and forest floor on the nose. The palate had some beautiful fruit - cherry, plum and juniper being the ones that popped out to me. Silky tannins, balanced acidity and a nice bit of spice on the back palate.
alternative pork recipes
Pork Tenderloin, Shiitake Mushrooms & Honey Mustard by Yours Truly
Mini Bacon & Onion Pasties by Alexandra Cook of "It's Not Complicated Recipes"
Crispy Pork & Papaya Salad by Yours Truly
Char Siu (Chinese BBQ) Pork by Jaimie Archer of 'Jaimie Eats'
Asian Pork Meatballs by Yours Truly
Keto Sticky Sugar Free Asian Pork Ribs by Megan Ellam of 'Mad Creations Hub'
Crispy Pork Belly, Sweet Potato & Cider Sauce by Yours Truly
Char Siu Pork Tacos by Andrea Geddes of 'The Cooking Collective'
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating Friends!!!
- 400 g pork tenderloin
- 1 eggplant cut into 1cm cubes
- 1 brown onion diced
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 handful parsley chopped
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 200 g kale picked & washed
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Season the pork and sear it in a hot pan for 2 - 3 mins and then place in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until internal temp is 58c
- Remove pork from oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Meanwhile, saute eggplant on medium heat in olive oil for 10 - 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to caramelise the eggplant so allow it to get some good colour.
- Add chopped onion & garlic and cook for a further 4 minutes.
- Add oregano, smoked paprika, cumin & red wine vinegar. Cook for a minute.
- Remove from the heat stir in lemon juice and sprinkle it with parsley.
- Drizzle washed kale with a little oil and a sprinkling of salt, lay it out on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes @ 180c until crispy. See tips above
- chef knives
- chopping board
- frying pan x 2
- baking sheet/tray
- wooden spoon
- measuring utensils
- crispy kale can last for up to 5 days if stored in an airtight container. Why not make double the batch for a healthier snack during the week OR just cook this dish again 😉
- don't forget to rest your meat. I can't emphasise it enough. Rested meat will retain it's juices and therefore make your meat more.......juicy!!
- it's always are perogative to stir food when in the pan BUT you want to get a nice caramelistion on the eggplant so yes, you do need to stir it but don't spend every second with the spoon in your hand