Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pork Tenderloin with Cider Plum Pan Sauce

This is a deceptively easy recipe that looks and tastes like it was hard work. I should point out that the marinated pork tenderloin is very good on it's own, so skip the sauce if you aren't in the mood. But do try it sometime, it is a nice balance of sweet, tangy, and savory.

The marinade is hard to mess up, so don't stress about amounts. If you don't have honey? Use some sugar! Don't have the herbs called for? Toss in whatever you've got! You just want to end up with a balance of flavors in the marinade, along with some fat.

for the sauce:

3/4 cup chopped, pitted dried plums (prunes)
2 cups apple cider
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
4 sprigs fresh thyme
olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves minced garlic

for the marinated pork:

1 1-lb. pork tenderloin (or 4-1 inch think center loin chops)
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
dijon mustard
dried thyme
dried parsley
olive oil

Place the tenderloin in a large ziploc bag, and dump in a few glugs (yes, it's an official measurement) of olive oil, a dollop of mustard, a squeeze or two of honey, and a few liberal pinches of the salt, pepper, thyme, and parsley. Close the bag and squish the marinade around the meat until it seems mixed well. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cooking.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and take the meat out of the refrigerator to allow it to warm up a bit.

In a small saucepan, bring the prunes, cider, vinegar, and thyme to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until reduced by half (it should coat the back of a spoon nicely).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and sear, browning all sides. Place skillet in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees (still light pink in the center). Remove meat from skillet and place on a platter, with aluminum foil tented over to keep warm. Return skillet (with meat drippings) to medium-low heat, add the onions, and cook until soft. Add garlic, cook for a minute more, then the cider/plum mixture. Simmer 2-3 minutes more, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then spoon over pork.

This pork is very good with a side of crispy roasted potatoes. I make my potatoes like this: put a chunk of butter and a glug of olive oil in a ceramic or glass baking pan, and put the pan in the oven as it preheats to 400 degrees. While the butter is melting and the pan is getting hot, quarter some smallish Yukon Gold potatoes. When the butter is melted, take the pan out and swirl the fat around to coat the bottom. Sprinkle the oil with sea salt and pepper, then tip the potato slices in. Give a good stir to coat the potatoes, then roast for at least 45 minutes. You want them to be really good and brown and crispy in the end.

With this delicious hot meal, I like a simple green salad. Other good green vegetables are steamed or sauteed asparagus, or wilted spinach. Enjoy!

Mrs. C.

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