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The first Christmas we were married, Mr. V and I spent alone in Nashville. We went and saw family over Thanksgiving, and planned on seeing more a little after Christmas. But at the time – I was a very tender 22 years old! – it felt devastating. I didn’t have any vacation time for my job, though, because I had just started on November 1. So it just was.
I cried in my cubicle, and then we moved on.
I planned a special Christmas Eve dinner. It’s legend in my nuclear family that the first Christmas Eve my parents were married, my mom made Cornish game hens for my dad. Every couple of years, she would repeat the tradition. I just knew that the pork tenderloin I planned on roasting would be that recipe for our family for years to come.
I followed Paula Deen’s recipe exactly, including the root vegetables, despite the fact that I’d never actually eaten or touched a rutabaga or turnip. I think I made a pie. We went to church at 5:30 and I thought I’d have plenty of time to roast the pork after we got back from the service to have a late dinner. (I vaguely remember this time when I wasn’t worried about feeding small children.)
But I kept looking at the pork, and it was hardly cooked. An hour … an hour and a half … why wasn’t it cooking like Paula swore to me it would?
Well, it turns out, that was because I didn’t know the difference between a pork loin and a tenderloin. I was expecting a huge roast to be magically done in an hour. I think after two hours or so, we were able to saw off the very ends to eat with our turnips. (Ick. I do not like turnips. Or parsnips.)
If you use actual pork tenderloin, this is a fairly simple but incredibly tasty dish. Marinate for a couple hours or overnight, toss in a dish, and roast it for awhile. The cinnamon-flecked meat is great with some roasted veggies and a salad. I roasted carrots and sweet potatoes around the meat, and it worked out great.