Sweet & Sour Pork Stir-Fry

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Tonight was one of those “Oh no, what I am going to make for dinner tonight!?” nights.  You would think that after 20 years of marriage, dinnertime would not come as such a shock to me. But, alas, sometimes it does. I try to be organized and have a list of meals and available ingredients so that dinner preparation is a little easier. However, there are many a night when 5 o’clock rolls around and I have yet to even consider what we are going to eat for dinner. When those nights happen, one of my favorite fall-back recipes is a stir-fry. I can usually scrounge up enough ingredients, fresh or frozen, to pull something together in a fairly short amount of time.

Tonight, the meat of choice was pork. I had a nice pork tenderloin in the freezer that would not take too long to thaw in the microwave. Vegetables included fresh onions, carrots and celery, frozen broccoli (I wish it had been fresh, but it still worked out fine) and a can of water chestnuts. The sauce: sweet & sour (not too sweet, however: I do not enjoy overly sweet stir-frys).

If you are tackling this last minute like me, put the pork in the microwave to thaw and start chopping vegetables. Put the yellow onions, carrots and celery in a bowl, and have your water chestnuts and broccoli handy. If you have green onions, place these in a separate small bowl. They are added at the very end.

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Stir together sauce ingredients and set aside.

When the pork is thaw, cut it into bite-sized thin strips. Once everything is chopped, it is time to start cooking. Don’t try to cook and chop at the same time when making a stir-fry. It is easy to overcook the vegetables and end up with a really soggy stir-fry. It is worth the small wait to have all of your ingredients cut before you start cooking.

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Heat 1 Tbs peanut or coconut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add yellow onions, carrots and celery. If you have fresh broccoli, add it now too. Or any other fresh vegetable you have with a slightly longer cooking time: like red or green peppers, mushrooms, green beans, Chinese cabbage. Wait until later to add quick-cooking vegetables like green onions, snow peas. When vegetables are crisp-tender, remove them from the wok and place them in a bowl.

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Add one additional tablespoon of oil to the wok and add your pork. Stir-fry on high heat until pork is cooked through and begins to brown.

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Pork tenderloin is often a high water content meat, so if you have a large amount of liquid in the bottom of your pan, drain it off. You want to stir-fry the meat, not boil it.

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When meat is cooked through, add the sauce with any frozen vegetables you are using and cook 3-4 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken and vegetables are crisp-tender. Return onion/celery mixture to pan along with water chestnuts and green onions (and any other quick-cooking vegetable you are using). Heat through.

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Serve with white or brown rice.

RECIPE:

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Sweet & Sour Pork Stir-Fry

2 Tbs oil (peanut or coconut), divided
2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
1 red or green pepper, diced (I used broccoli instead this time)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1″ slices

Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice vinegar (unsweetened)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1/2 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs sugar or agave nectar
1 Tbs cornstarch

Combine sauce ingredients; set aside. Chop vegetables and pork. Heat 1 Tbs oil in wok or skillet. Add vegetables (except water chestnuts and green onion); cook until crisp-tender. Remove from pan. Add additional 1 Tbs oil to pan. Add pork and cook until pork begins to brown. Add sauce to pan and cook 2-3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in cooked vegetables, water chestnuts and green onions. Heat through. Serve with white or brown rice.

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