Archive for the ‘pork tenderloin’ Category

For some reason, I tend to make more meals with pork in the fall and winter. I think it’s because many of the recipes I use call for items more prevalent at that time. For example, I love to fix pork stuffed with fruit, either thick chops or a butterflied tenderloin. The nice selection of apples in the fall gives me the impetus to try that again. 

Pork roasting in the oven gives the whole house an aroma that can’t be beat. A few sweet potatoes, an apple pie – that’s all I need.

The following recipe uses dried fruit in the stuffing instead of fresh.  Any combination of fruit works well.


Serves 4


1/2 c. finely chopped onion

1/4 c. finely chopped celery

1/2 c. finely chopped red bell pepper

1-2 t. oil

salt and pepper

1/4 c. dried cranberries

1/4 c. golden raisins (or regular raisins, or dried currants)

1/2 c. dried cherries

1/4 c. bread crumbs

1 large pork tenderloin, butterflied and pounded to a rectangle, about 12 X 6 inches.

1 T. butter

1 – 2 t. oil

1/2 c. red wine

1/2 c. chicken broth

1 T. onion soup mix (optional)

1/4 t. Julia Child’s pork spice mix**

salt and pepper

1/4 – 1/2 c. applesauce, unsweetened, preferably

* Really, any dried fruit will work here. I have used dried apples, raisins, apricots, any combination works well, even prunes.

** If you don’t have time to mix this, just add a pinch of cloves, nutmeg, paprika, thyme and allspice or cinnamon with a little extra pepper.


1. Saute the vegetables in the oil in a small skillet until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook and stir for 1 minute. Put the vegetables in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Mix the dried fruit and bread crumbs with the vegetables and spread over the prepared pork tenderloin leaving a 1/2 inch margin of meat uncovered with the stuffing. Roll up the pork lengthwise, firmly, but not tightly (the stuffing will be squeezed out if you roll it up too tightly). 

3. Tie with butcher’s string every 1 1/2 inch. Preheat oven to 375.

4. Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet large enough to accomodate the rolled up roast. Brown the tenderloin on all sides and put the skillet with pork in the oven to continue cooking.

5. Roast for 30-35 minutes. Remove pork from the skillet and cover with foil to keep warm. Remember !! The skillet is hot and so is the handle. 375 degrees will give you serious burn – I know this from experience. Keep a pot holder on the skillet handle. Put the skillet on a burner with medium high heat and deglaze the pan with 1/2 c. red wine. Reduce to a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Add the 1/2 c. chicken stock and the onion soup mix, if using. Cook to reduce halfway, again about 10 minutes. Add the pork spice mix, salt and pepper and the applesauce. Cook to heat through over low heat.

6. Slice the pork and serve with the sauce.

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I have often extolled the culinary virtues of pork tenderloin herein and you may be tired of reading about it. If so, I apologize for yet another tribute to “the other white meat”. But if I can convince one of you “non-believers” to give this lean, quick-cooking, flexible, and delicious cut of meat to give it a try, I will be satisfied with my efforts. Go for it!

I have explained that the whole tenderloin, usually large enough for 4 modest servings, can be sauteed, or pan roasted, oven baked, or grilled, skewered, sliced, cubed, stuffed, rolled, or even ground (perish the thought), and sauced with any number of concoctions, sweet or savory, even sweet and savory. Herbed, spiced, tarted up with colorful fruits or vegetables. The imagination presents the only limitation.

Here is one of my favorite ways to cook quickly a tenderloin sliced into medallions. These cook quickly, about 6-8 minutes. The sauce is an herby, port wine enhanced, broth-based sauce flavored with a touch of tomato paste and pitted prunes which add a deep sweetness to the pork. Once all the ingredients are gathered and prepared, the whole recipe is finished in about a half-hour.


Serves 3 or 4

One pork tenderloin, cut in 8 slices, about 1″ thick

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 t. ground cumin, optional

2 T. oil

1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped from stem and chopped*

1/2 c. finely chopped onions

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. port

1 T. red wine vinegar

1 T. tomato paste**

1/2 c. chicken broth

12 pitted prunes

1-2 T. butter

2 T. fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Flatten the pork slices slightly and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and cumin.

2. Saute the pork in batches in hot oil 3-4 minutes, turn and saute other side 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining batch. Remove pork to a warm plate and cover with foil.

3. Lower heat to medium, add onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary leaves. Cook, stirring, for a minute to soften.

3. Add port, vinegar, tomato paste and broth. Deglaze the pan. Add prunes and cook, stirring occasionally to reduce by approximately half.

4. Return pork and any accumulated meat juices on plate. Add butter and stir to combine.

5. Serve pork with sauce and sprinkled with the fresh herbs.

*If you’re not a fan of rosemary, just put the whole sprig in the pan when you add the port and remove it when you are ready to serve. It will add just a touch of rosemary flavor.

** If you don’t have tomato paste, you can use catsup in a pinch. I always have a tube of tomato paste, one of the best convenience items for cooks. You can squeeze out the amount of tomato paste needed and return the tube to the refrigerator to store.  The small cans of tomato paste usually leave half the contents or more to be dealt with later. For me, that used to mean the contents suffering a long, slow death in the back of the refrigerator. I know, I know. You can put dollops on a plate and freeze them, keeping them in a plastic bag in the freezer until needed. I tried that once and could never find the bag quickly. Believe me, the tubes are much more user-friendly and cost effective.

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One of my favorite dishes is Chicken Marsala. I rarely order it in restaurants because I have had some pretty bad renditions. I only request it in restaurants that I trust to make it well. 

You can find a multitude of recipes for Chicken Marsala in cookbooks and online.  I use one for pork that is from Jane Brody. I don’t know if it was from one of her cookbooks, or from her newspaper column. The same recipe can be used for chicken breasts if they are boneless and pounded thinly enough.

1 lb. pork tenderloin, sliced 1/2″ thick, and pounded to 1/4″

1 t. olive oil

8 oz. button mushrooms, halved if large or sliced if desired

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 c. Marsala wine

1/2 c. red wine, dry

1 T. tomato paste

Chopped parsley, optional, for garnish 

 1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork on both sides in the hot oil, in batches, and remove to a plate and keep warm covered with foil.

 2. Add the shallot to the oil in the pan, adding a little more if necessary. Cook, stirring, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

4. Stir in the Marsala, red wine and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes to reduce. 

5. Return the pork to the pan to reheat for a minute or two. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve.

What to serve with this? I suppose you could serve potatoes, although it doesn’t seem quite proper somehow. I would probably serve risotto, if I had the time and inclination to stand and stir it for 20-20 minutes. However, it is always worth the trouble.

A plain spaghetti or linguine would be good, also, especially if you made a little extra sauce to dress the pasta.

Naturally, I would have a salad, and maybe some vegetable, like broccoli spears, or broccoli rabe. The color would be great for the relatively colorless meat and sauce.

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If you have been reading my posts, you have discovered that I am a huge fan of pork tenderloin. It is lean and tender, cooks relatively quickly, is readily accessible, not too expensive, and mingles well with lots of different flavors. It can be a plain, down-home entree, or perfect to serve to your grandest guests. I love pork.

And, it’s not chicken.  Oh, I eat chicken once, maybe twice a week, but that’s just for variety. I could eat pork more often than chicken, easily.  Throw in an occasional steak, pizza, or spaghetti dinner, and I’m a happy camper.

Here is an example of a quick entree that uses balsamic vinegar for a pan sauce.


pork tenderloin, sliced 1″ thick, pounded slightly to flatten

flour, 1/4-1/3 cup

salt and pepper

1 T. butter

1 T. olive oil

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

1/4-1/3 c. chicken broth

1 T. fresh sage, chopped

1. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish; dredge pork in the flour.

2. Heat oil and butter in a large saute pan or skillet to medium high.  Saute pork, in batches if necessary, a few minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove pork from pan and set aside, covered with foil.

3. Deglaze pan with the vinegar, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Cook, stirring, to reduce the vinegar a little.

4. Add the chicken broth to the vinegar and return the pork to the pan, along with any  juices that may have escaped from the meat.

5. Add the sage and continue cooking, turning the pork over, for a few minutes until the reduced sauce is dark and shiny.

6. Serve the tenderloin slices with the sauce.

(The tenderloin can also be left in one piece, browned in a skillet, and then roasted in the oven to finish cooking. This would be best with the skinny end folded under and tied in place to make the pork even in thickness. After roasting, let the pork rest, covered with foil while you make the sauce in the roasting pan. Slice the pork, and serve with the sauce.)

This pork dish would be great served with potatoes gratin, mashed potatoes, or even baked ones. I would probably not serve broccoli, or Brussels sprouts, or any other strong tasting vegetable with this. The balsamic vinegar sauce is strong enough. I might even serve the following dish instead of potatoes. It is rich and creamy, featuring the subtle taste of fennel, one of my favorite flavors. It can be prepared ahead of time, up to the baking, and then cooked while you are fixing the pork.


2 lbs. fennel

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 1/2 c. cream, half and half, or milk

1/4 – 1/3 c. bread crumbs or panko

1/4 c. parmesan, grated

1 T. butter

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a gratin dish or other shallow baking pan. 
Trim the fronds from the fennel; remove any brown spots from the outer layer of the bulb.  Quarter the bulb and slice 
thinly. Lay the slices in the gratin dish.

2. Mix salt, pepper and cream and pour over the fennel.

3. Mix the crumbs and parmesan and sprinkle over the sauce. Dot with butter. (If preparing ahead, cover with foil and set aside until ready to bake.)

4. Bake 25 minutes covered, and 20 more minutes uncovered. (If stored in the refrigerator, add 10 minutes to the first 25 minutes in the oven.)

This would be beautiful with glazed carrots and the pork. I may have to make this next week.

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Yesterday was a busy day. I had a lot to do before leaving town for the better part of the day to meet my knitting buddies for a lunch and knit session. My neighbor and I did our daily (in our dreams) morning walk at 8:30 for 45 minutes instead of the usual hour. I had 2 loaves of bread ready to bake as soon as I got back so that they would be cool enough to take with me. Before I left for the walk, I looked for a new recipe for pork tenderloin, found one, prepared the marinade for it and got the pork into a food bag with the marinade. I had all the ingredients for a salsa/relish topping but didn’t have time to get that started. As soon as I got back from walking, I popped the bread in the oven (NO KNEAD BREAD, of course), started the relish ingredients simmering, took one of the quickest baths in history, ran back into the kitchen to finish the relish, take the lids off the bread pots, ran back to dress, ran back to get the bread out of the oven. Took the relish off the heat and set aside to cool. Gathered up my knitting projects and left. Whew! By the way, I left the kitchen in a mess.

So what does this have to do with planning ahead? Well, I did make the bread dough ahead of time. I did get the pork tenderloin from the grocery. I could have chosen a simpler recipe for the pork, one that didn’t require as much preparation that far ahead of dinnertime. But I knew that I would rather have all that prep work behind me when it was time to fix dinner. All I had to do was fix some rice, steam some carrots, toss a salad (dressing was made ahead of time). The pork cooked on the grill for 20 minutes; it needed to be turned a couple of times and that’s all. The carrots cooked during part of that time and my secret recipe (Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice) was 90 seconds in the microwave. I keep a few packages of Ready Rice in a variety of flavors on hand for last minute cooking. My potatoes have all sprouted too much to use so rice was a good substitute. Try one. They are surprisingly tasty and good in a pinch. I used the Roasted Chicken flavor last night.

The recipe for the pork tenderloin is so easy. As you can see, I threw it all together in a short time yesterday morning. About 10 minutes is all it took. The pork needs to marinate 8 hours and the relish needs the time to mellow a bit. Try it. You’ll like it. Mikey likes it. By the way, it can be cooked in the oven instead of the grill. And it all can be prepared a day in advance if you really like to plan ahead.


(Adapted from epicurious.com)

My changes are marked with an *asterisk*. My notes are in italics.

1 1/2 lb. firm-ripe peaches*
1/2 lb. tomatoes**
1/2 c. chopped red onion (1 medium)
1 T. fresh minced peeled ginger
1 t. Kosher salt
1 T. vegetable oil
1 1.2 t. curry powder
2 T. sugar
1 T. lime juice
*I used a lunch-bag sized plastic container of diced peaches with the juice. No need for fresh peaches if you don’t have any.
**I used 1 tomato

For Pork:
3 scallions, white and pale green parts only, trimmed, chopped
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
2 t. Kosher salt
1/2 t. ground allspice
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 T. molasses (not blackstrap or robust)
1 t. Scotch bonnet or habanero hot sauce or to taste *
2 pork tenderloins (1 3/4 lb. to 2 lb. total) **
2 T. vegetable oil for basting***
*I used regular hot sauce, Tennessee Sunshine
**I used just 1 tenderloin
***I needed only 1 tablespoon oil

To Make Relish:
Peel peaches and tomatoes. Halve peaches and remove pit. Cut into 1″ pieces. Peel and coarsely chop tomatoes. (All this can be simplified by using canned peaches and canned tomatoes. Go for fresh if you’ve got it, but don’t let the call for fresh peaches and tomatoes stop you. They both get cooked anyway so use canned if that’s what you have.)
Cook onion, ginger and salt in oil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 minutes. Add curry powder and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add peaches and tomatoes with their juices, sugar, and lime juice and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and peaches are tender but still hold their shape, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool, uncovered, then chill, covered at least 8 hours.

Marinate Pork:
Combine scallions, thyme, salt, allspice, pepper, lime juice, molasses, and hot sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Put pork in a nonreactive dish and rub all over with the marinade. Store covered and chilled, turning occasionally, for 8 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
(I didn’t use a blender for such a small amount. I just minced the scallions as finely as I could and mixed everything in a small bowl. It worked just fine. No need to use and wash a blender. I also marinated the pork in a food baggie, gallon size. No container to wash.)

Grill Pork:
Discard marinade and brush pork with oil. Prepare grill. For gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium. Grill pork, turning, occasionally, for 15-25 minutes, until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of meat registers 145 degrees. Lower heat if necessary to prevent burning. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes tented with foil. (Pork will continue to cook and temperature will rise to 155 degrees.) Slice and serve with relish.

This is such a delicous marinade for pork. I would use it even if I didn’t make the relish. It would be good for chicken as well. I don’t think I would try it for beef. The relish is sweet, tangy, with the curry, ginger and hot sauce adding quite a punch. You can tailor those ingredients to accomodate your taste buds.

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Last night we had pork tenderloin, candied sweet potatoes, and a green salad with lettuce, arugula and chives from my garden, and roasted fresh beets with blue cheese dressing. Wow! What flavors!

The tenderloin was seasoned with salt and pepper and then browned all over in a Dutch Oven in a tablespoon of butter and one of olive oil. After a few minutes, I added a finely chopped shallot and a large clove of garlic, minced, a large spring of thyme, and a few stems of parsley. I stirred those for a minute or two and then added 1/4 c. red wine to deglaze the pan. I added about 1/2 c. chicken broth, then covered the pan and simmered on low heat for a half hour or so until the pork was done. I let the roast rest on a cutting board for a few minutes and added a tablespoon of heavy cream to the sauce in the pan. After slicing the pork I drizzled a little sauce over it. It was very good.

The house smelled so good all evening and even this morning.

We love roasted beets. They have such a mellow sweetness after roasting. I usually just cut the tops off, wrap the beets in a large piece of heavy foil, close it tightly, and put them in an oven at 375 for an hour or so. You can tell by squeezing one if it is done. Peel them over a sink with a fork to hold the hot beet and be sure to wear an apron and latex gloves because beet juice can really leave a stain. I sliced the beets about a half-hour before we ate to give them a chance to cool down before putting them on the salad.

I planted arugula about 5 years ago and unfortunately, or fortunately, let some of it go to seed. Now I have it popping up all over the yard. Whenever I need some for a recipe or to add to a salad, I just have to wander around the yard for a while until I see some growing where it shouldn’t. I pull up the whole plant and bring it in the house, roots and all. The whole thing gets washed in the sink, dried a little, wrapped in a paper towel and put in a plastic bag, unsealed. It lasts for a week, at least. The pungent, peppery taste adds to any green salad and is also good on a sandwich.

The pork tenderloin was a good purchase yesterday at Sam’s Club. The vacuum sealed package contained 2 whole tenderloins, which is really 4 pieces, more than enough for 4 meals for us. I separated the pieces and froze 3 of them. I always have ingredients in the pantry to make a meal with a tenderloin. Sometimes I pan roast it, sometimes, saute it and finish it in the oven. Sometimes I slice it into medallions and cook them quickly with a pan sauce. I could also cut the tenderloin into cubes for a stew or chili con carne. It is a versatile cut of meat and very easy to incorporate into your go-to list of everyday menu items.


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