The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach…
… right? But I’m here to tell you fellas, that street goes both ways. There isn’t any better way to impress a lady than to whip up an amazing meal. But those meals– whether they’re intended to get you a second date, or something more– don’t have to be complicated, day-long projects.
Here’s your goal: Cook a dinner that makes you feel like a man and helps you get (or keep) the girl. It’s meat & potatoes food without being a meathead. You’ve just gotta have skills… And that’s what I’m here for.
A quick, sexy meal is all about planning ahead. Lucky for you, all the work for this meal can be done a day or two in advance. First, you marinate the pork– and that means you toss it in a zip-top bag with a few seasonings. Herbs and citrus zest add loads of flavor to the meat with little to no fuss.
Next, for the veggie side (something much more adventurous than potatoes or grilled asparagus!), thinly slice brussels sprouts, then brine them (definition of brining– soaking in a bowl of water with salt and sugar; for proportions, see below). This way, they cook in less time than it takes to pour your first glass of wine (or bourbon!) Plus, brining makes the brussels brighter and fresher than any other cooking method. They’re more like sauteed greens than the tiny stink bombs they can become when roasted for too long.
Here’s the best part of this recipe– you get to use the mandoline. This is a total win-win for guys. If you don’t own one, here is your excuse to go out and buy a new kitchen gadget. If you do own one, have fun… but be careful! Mandolines are built for dudes- it’s like a power tool for kitchen… just without the motor. Mandolines are powered by fear and missing finger tips. You know, guy stuff.
After all the (not-so) hard work is done and your food is cooked, don’t screw it up by letting it turn into a pile of slop on the plate. Follow our step-by-step plating guide to really get things going.
- 1 pork tenderloin
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 4-6 branches fresh thyme
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb brussels sprouts
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 piece of bread or a small roll
- 2 tablespoons pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon sherry or red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- ½ teaspoon sriracha hot sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Trim the pork tenderloin and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the pork in a zip-top bag and add the garlic, thyme, lemon zest and olive oil. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Roll the bag on the countertop to distribute the marinade and coat the meat. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for up to 24 hours.
- Cut the stem end from the brussels sprouts and discard any of the loose leaves. Slice the brussels as thinly as possible with a mandoline or a sharp knife.
- In a medium sized bowl whisk together the water, salt and sugar until dissolved. Add the brussels sprouts and press to submerge in the liquid. Leave to marinate 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to broil and position a rack on the top shelf. Remove the tenderloin from the marinade, wipe off any of the lemon zest, thyme or garlic and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the pork again with lightly salt and pepper. PLace the pork in a roasting pan or cast iron skillet and position directly under the broiler. Close the oven and cook 4 minutes. Roll the pork ⅓ of the way over in the pan and replace under the broiler for 4 minutes more. Turn the pork another ⅓ and cook a final 4 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and rest on top of the stove 5 minutes.
- While the pork rests, drain the brussels sprouts. Place a large saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and chili flake. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add toast the bread in the oil until golden brown on both sides, set aside to cool, then chop into crumbs.
- Add the brussels sprouts to the same saute pan and cook 2 minutes, or until just tender.
- For the smoked paprika aioli, combine the vinegar, paprika, garlic and hot sauce and set aside 5 minutes before stirring in the mayonnaise.
- To plate, spread a spoonful of the mayonnaise on the base of a plate. Slice the pork and place in the center of the plate. Drop a spoonful of the sauteed brussels sprouts on top the pork and finish with the toasted breadcrumbs and grated cheese.