Friday, October 21, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Port and Dried Cherry Sauce

I was thinking about fall as I was driving around the other day.  Growing up in the Midwest, I never really realized that fall could be an entire season. Then I spent three months in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was there from September through November and it was a beautiful fall the entire time.  The same thing happened when I moved to Louisville, KY.  Fall really can last longer than 2 or 3 days!  This year is a good example of "fall" in the Midwest - from 85 degrees to 40 degrees in one week.  Blink and you miss it.  I blame it on the jet stream, which is my favorite scapegoat for most things.

Even if the weather is messed up, you can still pretend.  Nothing says fall like a delicious pork and fruit dish.  I sometimes struggle with pork roasts or pork chops - they're so lean that they tend to dry out.  But pork tenderloin is a whole different story - it's very tender even though it's lean, and the perfect size to make a four-serving meal. Just be sure not to overcook the meat - it's OK if it's slightly pink in the middle.  Here's my tip of the day - don't use the prepackaged marinated pork tenderloins prevalent in every store.  They're full of chemicals and sodium and have a funny aftertaste, at least to me.  Search out natural (not marinated) tenderloins, although they're sometimes hard to find.  My latest discovery was at Costco, and I've also found them at Trader Joe's.

The sauce for this dish has dried cherries and port wine, which gives it a rich flavor and a slight sweetness that go well with the pork.  The color of the wine and cherries also makes it pretty enough to serve to company, although it's easy enough to make during the week.  If you're going to serve wine with dinner, don't serve port - it will be too sweet on its own (it's a dessert wine normally).  Serve a good Pinot Noir.

* * click here for a printable recipe version * *

Pork Tenderloin with Port and Dried Cherry Sauce
Makes 4 servings

1 cup ruby port or other sweet red wine
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
4 teaspoons seedless raspberry jam
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ½ pound pork tenderloin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Fresh parsley sprigs, optional

Hot cooked couscous or rice

Combine the first four ingredients.  Cut the pork tenderloin crosswise into 16 pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, then add the pork pieces and brown on the first side (approximately 3 minutes).  Flip the pork and brown on the other side, then remove from the pan.  Add the wine mixture to the pan, scraping up any leftover brown bits.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until reduced slightly, then remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.

Serve the pork and sauce over the couscous or rice.  Garnish with parsley.

browning the pork pieces

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