First day of spring-dinner

It's spring, people! I was wearing my spring jacket for the first time this year while walking to the grocery store yesterday. I was also sneezing excessively from the pollen in my nose and the dust from the dry roads that flew around with every passing car and ended up in my throat. Kids were playing brännboll outside the school, crocus are peaking out between the dry leaves outside our front door, and the huge pile of snow left by the snowplough in what now seems like ages ago (in reality just a couple of weeks) is looking sad and lonely, being eaten by the warm spring sun. Such a lovely day!

So yesterday called for a dinner full of flavours like the spring - fresh and exciting. Leafing through my latest cookbook find - Jamie Oliver's Happy Days - I found the perfect recipe: marinated pork tenderloin with sage and rhubarb. There's no fresh rhubarb yet, but luckily there was one bag left in the freezer from last year. My dad always gets loads of rhubarb in his garden and every summer he gives me a couple of grocery bags full of them. I love rhubarb, and it's always exciting to find ways to use it in cooking, rather than in just pies, muffins and such.

I modified the recipe slightly, exchanging the prosciutto for bacon and using rhubarb cut in much smaller pieces (that's how I freeze it). I think bigger pieces of rhubarb would have been better cause now they got a bit too soggy. The flavours work really well together, especially the sage which I rarely use but definitely will pick up more often now. The pork tenderloin got really tender, almost as if cooked sous-vide. Maybe the wet grease-proof paper that it was cooked under for the first 15 minutes is the secret?

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with rhubarb and sage
(adapted from Jamie Oliver's Happy Days with the Naked Chef)

One handful of fresh sage + a few extra leaves
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
Pork tenderloin, enough for two
Salt, black pepper
2-3 rhubarb stalks, cut in finger-sized pieces (smaller slices also works, but will be soggier)
Bacon, enough to wrap the pork tenderloin in

Bash up the sage using a mortar and pestle (or if you have one, like me, use the Jamie Oliver flavour shaker which is really convenient for this kind of stuff). Peel the garlic and cut it in larger pieces - no need for fine chopping - and add that together with the olive oil. Give it all a good bash/shake. Trim the pork tenderloin if needed, and rub the marinade on to the meat. Cover, and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so.

Set the oven to 225°C. Get the meat out of the fridge, but do not wipe off the marinade, except for any garlic that has gotten stuck to the meat. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Wrap slices of bacon around the tenderloin so that it gets fully covered. Place the rhubarb in an oven-proof dish. NB! do not use one made of stain-less steel - the rhubarb contains acids which will make the steel oxidize! Place the bacon-wrapped meat on top, throw in the garlic from the marinade, and add a couple of extra leaves of sage.

Wrinkle up a sheet of grease-proof paper and moisten it. Tuck the wet paper around the meat. Put the meat in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the paper, and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes. Let the meat rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Serve the meat cut in slices, together with the rhubarb-sauce, some fresh sage and oven-roasted potatoes.

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