When the opportunity arises for me to deliver dinner to a friend and their family – whether they have just had a baby, moved house or are in the process of completing a PHD, my tendency is to create the entire meal, from appetizer to salad to dessert, around a main course of pork tenderloin.
It is elegant, transports well, is perfect hot or room temperature and is easily reheated, as needed.
PORK TENDERLOIN WITH ROASTED CHERRIES AND SHALLOTS
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
3 shallots, quartered
8 ounces fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Heat oven to 425F.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, swirl to coat. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon. Rub pork evenly with the mixture. Add pork to pan and brown. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 140F. Remove pork from pan, place on a cutting board. Let pork stand 10 minutes, slice.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add shallots and cherries, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place pan in oven, bake at 425F for 10 minutes. Carefully remove pan from oven, place over medium-high heat. Stir in stock, vinegar, and sugar, bring to a boil. Cook for 4 minutes or until liquid is syrupy. Remove from heat, stir in butter. Serve cherry mixture with pork, sprinkle with parsley.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, June 2014
ROASTED PORK LOIN WITH POACHED PLUMS
6 plums, quartered, pitted
2 cups white wine
1 cup red wine
2 whole star anise
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup plus 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 cups chicken broth
5 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme, divided
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
2 1 1/4 pound pork tenderloins
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
Combine plums, white wine, red wine, star anise, cinnamon stick and 1/4 cup sugar in heavy large saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat; simmer until plums are tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer plums to platter. Strain wine mixture.
Return strained liquid to same saucepan. Add broth, thyme sprigs, and shallot. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes. Strain sauce; stir in 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar and chopped thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 400F.
Brush pork with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until brown on all sides, turning often, about 5 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven, and roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 140F, about 20 minutes.
Remove skillet from oven and let pork stand 10 minutes. Slice pork and serve with poached plums and sauce.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2007
PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PEARS AND SHALLOTS
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme plus fresh thyme sprigs for garnish
1 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloin
3 shallots, each cut into 4 to 6 wedges through stem end, peeled
3 unpeeled pears, quartered and cored
4 teaspoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup pear nectar
Heat oven to 475F. Mix oil, garlic and chopped thyme in a small bowl. Rub mixture over pork, shallots and pears. Heat large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and shallots, brown on all sides, turning, about 7 minutes. Transfer shallots to platter. Transfer pork to baking sheet. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 145F, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add pears to same skillet and cook over medium-high heat until brown on cut side, turning once or twice, about 4 minutes. Transfer pears to platter.
Mix butter and flour in small cup. Add broth, nectar and butter mixture to same skillet, boil until sauce thickens, scraping up browned bits, about 7 minutes.
Slice pork, arrange on platter. Surround with pears and shallots. Drizzle sauce over pork. Garnish with thyme sprigs.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2010
ROSEMARY AND GARLIC CRUSTED PORK LOIN WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND POTATOES
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided use
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to tate
1 2-3 pound pork tenderloin
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes, cut into 4 pieces
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided use
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup port
1/2 cup chicken stock
Heat oven to 400F. Combine rosemary, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, finely chop together on a cutting board.
Coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Place pork in pan and rub the rosemary mixture all over it.
Toss potatoes and squash with olive oil, salt and pepper in medium bowl, scatter around pork. Roast pork and potatoes 25 to 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 145F. Transfer pork to carving board, tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes. If vegetables are tender, transfer to a bowl, cover and keep warm. If not, continue roasting 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until tender.
After removing vegetables, place roasting pan over medium-high heat and add port, bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Reduce heat to low, simmer 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and simmer 2 more minutes. Add any juices that have accumulated on carving board.
To serve, cut pork into slices, place on warmed platter, spoon vegetables around edges. Serve immediately with pan sauce.
Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, December 2014