I had a lot of influence from Ina Garten in the early stages of my cooking career, assuming I can count the times I was sous-chefing for my mom as official culinary experience. One of the dishes I became obsessed with for feeding a crowd was her Indonesian Ginger Chicken. I don’t remember when I tried the recipe for the first time. But I do remember the time I forced my mom to make it for 40 people.
In high school, I was a much more enthusiastic host than I was a cook. And my mom was the opposite. But somehow I roped her into letting me invite over all my nerdy horseback riding friends (and their parents) to the apartment we were renting in Lake Placid. We were up there for a weeklong show, and since I assumed that everyone else ate as well as I did at home, I figured my peers would be craving a home cooked meal by day 3. That, and I probably thought it would further hide my closet competitiveness by having them all over dinner.
The rental apartment of course had no cooking equipment. So my mom and I visited the magical world of Costco and loaded up on aluminum roasting pans, 25 pounds of assorted bone-in chicken parts, 10 heads of garlic, and a piece of ginger root as long as my forearm. The marinade was relatively simple—just 4 ingredients, in fact. But the catch for making it en masse was the grating of the ginger.
My mom had very few appliances in her kitchen (no food processor or mixer to speak of) so it never occurred to her that there might be a shortcut, or that chopping the ginger instead of grating it would probably be acceptable considering we were making an industrial sized batch of chicken with industrialized ingredients sourced from a store that was pretty much the opposite of the health markets where my mother normally shopped. But instead she earned many mommy martyr points, staying up until midnight grating ginger until her knuckles we raw, while I rested my delicate pony wrangling hands and got some beauty sleep.
When looking back and connecting the dots, Steve Jobs style, this dinner is one of the hosting memories that comes up again and again. As I get older, and become increasingly more crotchety and anti-social (more, dare I say it, like my mother), I realize that forcing anyone to interact with a crowd of horse people is probably worse punishment than losing a few knuckles to a box grater. And that probably earns her a few more mommy martyr points for life.
The chicken turned out amazing, in case you were wondering, even with a little extra blood, sweat and tears mixed in with the soy sauce. I’ve made similar marinades over the years, using chopped instead of grated ginger, and I’ve concluded that the real beauty of this recipe is letting the meat sit overnight.
Recently, I tried a variation with pork tenderloin, swapping in maple syrup for the honey and gluten-free tamari for the soy. After roasting the loin in a very hot oven, the skin gets a beautiful crust and the marinade caramelizes in a way that tastes just like a teriyaki sauce. I reduced the remaining marinade and drizzled it over the top for an elegant, upscale take on a basic pork stir fry.
So long as you don’t mind slicing up a bunch of meat before your guests arrive, this teriyaki pork ternderloin would also be a very good option to serve 40 or so of your closest friends, or a couple dozen random anti-social equestrians, if you want to earn extra points with your social, yet nerdy daughter.
Maple Ginger Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- ¼ cup organic maple syrup
- ¼ cup gluten-free tamari
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 inches fresh ginger root
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- In a small food processor, puree the maple syrup, tamari, garlic, and ginger until smooth. Alternatively, you can mind the ginger and garlic by hand and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Transfer the marinade to a resealable plastic bag. Add the pork and swish around until coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
- Meanwhile, transfer the remaining marinade to a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat until reduced by half.
- Slice the pork on the bias, drizzle with the reduced sauce, and serve immediately.
If you like this Roasted Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin, you’ll also love these other healthy crowd-pleasing meat recipes: