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Weeknight Cooking

Dinner This Week: Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

This week’s menus include Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin, Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas, and Spanish-Style Pasta with Shrimp for dinner in an hour or less.

Published Dec. 30, 2023.

Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.

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Dinner 1: Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Sautéed Cabbage

Game Plan: Start by prepping the ingredients for both the pork and the cabbage. Once the pork has been transferred to the oven, wipe out the nonstick skillet and use it to cook the fennel mixture (step 1), but wait until the pork is resting to finish cooking the cabbage (steps 2 and 3).

Our Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin recipe employs a stovetop-to-oven method that yields a well-browned crust and a succulent, tender interior. For a maple glaze that will adhere to the meat we have several tricks. First, we mix the syrup with molasses and mustard to create a thicker glaze. Second, we coat the tenderloin with cornstarch so that the glaze will bond to it. Third, we add a second coat of glaze when the meat is nearly done. In our recipe for Sautéed Cabbage with Fennel and Garlic, we mitigate the pungent flavors and sulfurous odors that can plague overcooked cabbage. Instead of boiling or braising, we pan-steam and sauté the cabbage over relatively high heat to cook it quickly and add an extra layer of flavor from browning. Soaking the cabbage before cooking reduces bitterness while providing extra moisture to help the cabbage steam.

Printable Shopping ListsMaple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Sautéed Cabbage with Fennel and Garlic

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Dinner 2: Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Couscous Pilaf

Game Plan: Start with the chicken. Once the carrots, apricots, and chicken breasts have been added to the pot (step 4), start preparing the couscous. Make sure to keep an eye on the chicken as you are browning the couscous so that it doesn’t overcook.

Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Apricots offers the depth and flavor of an authentic tagine in about one hour. A standard braising procedure builds complexity: First, we brown skin-on pieces of chicken to give the braising liquid deep flavor. Next, we remove the chicken from the pot; sauté onion, strips of lemon zest, garlic, and a heady spice blend (paprika, cumin, cayenne, ginger, coriander, and cinnamon) in a little oil; add chicken broth and honey; and finally, return the chicken to the pot. We use a “pilaf method” for our Couscous with Dates and Pistachios, gently browning the pasta to add a toastiness. We further bump up the flavor by using a combination of chicken broth and water, which we add to the pan after the couscous is toasted, and by stirring in dates and pistachios for textural and flavor contrast.

Printable Shopping ListsMoroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Apricots and Apricots and Couscous with Dates and Pistachios

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Dinner 3: Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp and Brussels Sprout Salad

Game Plan: The pasta and shrimp will require a fair amount of attention during cooking, so prepare all the ingredients for the salad first, including making the dressing. As the pasta and shrimp stand for 5 minutes, finish making the salad (if necessary, the pasta can stand a little longer than 5 minutes).

Our Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta is based on a traditional Spanish recipe called fideuà. To streamline the procedure but keep the deep flavor of the classic recipe, we replace the traditional slow-cooked fish stock with a quick shrimp stock made with shrimp shells, chicken broth, water, and a bay leaf. We also save time by streamlining the sofrito (the aromatic base common in Spanish cooking) by finely mincing the onion to help it soften and brown more quickly and using canned tomato instead of fresh. The final tweak to our recipe was boosting the flavor of the shrimp by quickly marinating them in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. We dress our Brussels Sprout Salad with a warm mustard vinaigrette that gently tenderizes the sprouts while letting them retain their freshness. Bites of quick-pickled shallot and dried apricots add pop, while ricotta salata cheese, chopped toasted pistachios, and watercress contribute richness, crunch, and a touch of bitterness.

Printable Shopping ListsSpanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp and Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette

To view more quick weeknight dinner ideas, check out the rest of the Dinner This Week series.


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