With a three year old, dinner can be a constant battle. I’m currently attempting to make just one meal for the 3 of us, but it’s not been overly successful. So tonight I tried the strategy of having him help me cook, so the food would not be too unfamiliar, and he’d have some ownership. (If you remember, The Boy went through a cooking phase recently – hence the homemade play stove).
Well, I’m happy to report, it worked! Adding to the success was the fact that the dish we created,while adventurous and yummy for adults, was pretty kid-tastebud friendly.
And since it was created on the fly (and thus I didn’t think to take pictures, sorry!), I’m documenting it now for posterity:
1- pork tenderloin pkg (2 tenderloins)
1- 1 lb bag baby carrots
handful of dried mango (from the fruit/nut bins at the supermarket–other dried fruit or raisens would also work) or more if you like.
jarred roasted garlic (regular garlic would do as well i think, but i thought roasted would be milder)
1/2 can of beef broth (lower sodium is fine)
spices: salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon (optional, thyme)
Preheat oven to 350
Precook the carrots by boing for about 10 minutes (they’ll cook slower than the pork).
Rinse and dry the tenderloin, and place on platter or cutting board. You drizzle on some olive oil, and then let kid sprinkle liberally with kosher salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon (optional, thyme–but i just did this because i had a jar with a grinder on it and i thought he would enjoy). Between each spice, i would let him taste a tiny bit of it — he really enjoyed that. Have him help spoon roasted garlic (about 1-2 teas total, but use your judgement – we didnt measure anything) onto each tenderloin. THEN… rub it all it! He loved that part. WASH HANDS!!
When carrots are precooked, douse with cool water and drain. When not hot, Put the carrots in a Large bowl (big enough for small child to toss them without spilling all over the place). Have child help you drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with pepper & kosher salt. Have child (with clean hands!) toss the carrots with his fingers until they (the carrots, not the fingers!) are nicely coated. Set aside. Wash child’s hands!
Heat a large iron skillet (or other ovenproof pan), with a light coating of olive oil, keeping kid firmly out of the way. Transfer the two tenderloins to the skillet (they should make a circle around the perimeter of the pan. Brown for several minutes on each side. Turn off stove and have child help you transfer the carrots into the pan, they should pretty much over-fill the center. Chop or scissor your dried mango slices into 1/2 to 1 inch bits. Sprinkle over the top. Sprinkle brown sugar (maybe 1/8 cup–the kid kept eating it?) over the top as well. If you have a digital meat thermometer (love those!) insert now.
Start rice now (cook according to package directions).
Cover with aluminum foil and place in oven. Cook about 30 minutes, or follow thermometer, (depending on how done you want it. I like mine medium, but the nice thing is that the skinny ends of the pork will be more well done, perfect for child consumption).
When pork is to the doneness you like, remove pork only, place on clean platter, and lightly cover with aluminum foil, so it can rest for a few minutes. Place skillet on stovetop, add a spoonful of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 c or so water to thicken (add extra broth if it looks like you’ll need more sauce). Taste it and see if it needs any additional spice. Stir and let simmer on low heat while you let the meat rest.
Slice the meat, drizzle with sauce from the pan. Optionally recombine with the carrots/sauce (I didn’t because The Boy is weird about mixing food). Serve with/over rice. Let child serve his own place with tongs, that adds to the ownership! This served 2 adults and 1 picky child with an entire tenderloin and plenty of carrots left over for tomorrow.
Hope ya like it!