Peter and I remember loving a good pork chop when we were growing up and for many years we would buy pork chops, cook them in any number of ways, and always came away disappointed. What are "they" doing to pigs these days? Pork chops these days are flavorless. So Peter introduced me to pork tenderloins.
Pork tenderloins are easy to cook, always tender and lovely with a variety of sweet condiments like chutney, applesauce, and even cranberry sauce. Recently however, we found a recipe that is the real winner and a "definite repeat" as we say in my family. I liked this so much I even had a couple of slices cold for breakfast one morning. The marinade has almost a perfume-quality aroma with its hard cider / maple syrup base and the unique combination of fennel and coriander seeds, ground cinnamon, fresh ginger slices and fresh rosemary. As there are just two of us, I cooked each of the tenderloins on different nights, so one was in the marinade for three nights and it came out just the same as the first. We found hard cider in the refrigerated beer section of our grocery store. Don't substitute.
I encourage you to try this, it's truly tender and delicious.
Cider-Roasted Pork Tenderloins
1 (12-ounce) bottle of hard cider
¼ cup pure Grade A maple syrup
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (1 to 1¼ pounds each), trimmed
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1½ tablespoons coarsely chopped rosemary leaves
Good olive oil
Combine the cider, maple syrup, and 3 tablespoons of salt in a 4-cup glass measuring cup. With a mortar and pestle, grind the fennel, peppercorns, coriander, and cinnamon together and add to the cider mixture. (The spices may also be put in a small plastic bag and crushed with a meat mallet.) Place the tenderloins in a 1-gallon Ziplock bag and pour in the marinade. Add the ginger and rosemary, squeeze the air out of the bag, seal, place on a plate, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and dry them well with paper towels. Discard the marinade. Place the tenderloins on a sheet pan and rub them all over with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 125 degrees. (Insert the thermometer horizontally through the large end of the tenderloin.) Remove from the oven and cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest 10 minutes. Cut the tenderloin diagonally into ½-inch-thick slices, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm with the condiment of choice.
Thanks as always to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. This recipe is from her most recent cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey.