Thursday, July 11, 2013

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Nectarines

I have long been a fan of Caroline of The Wright Recipes and her 20-dollar, 20-minute meals column.  The meals are always inspiring and look really delicious.  So, when she came out with a new book with the same theme, I knew right away that I needed to get it!  The first thing I made was Caroline's pasta puttanesca, which was really delicious (and we managed to gobble it up before getting a photo, oops!).  Then, I made an even more delicious recipe for roasted pork tenderloin.  I find pork tenderloin to be one of those cuts that's tempting at the store but often a little disappointing in the end.  It's cheap and a nice portion size, and I know it will cook up easily and quickly.  But, often it can turn out dry and not very flavorful.

Well - I've found my new way to cook pork tenderloin, because this recipe results in tasty, moist pork.  I think the key here is the combination of a spice rub + browning in a pan before roasting + a honey glaze.  Sounds like a lot of steps, but each one is easy and the results are excellent.  It would also be really easy to change up by substituting different spices or switching the honey glaze for brown sugar.

On the side is a savory version of this roasted peach dessert.  Since nectarines tend to be on the tarter side, they pair perfectly with ricotta cheese and roasted pork - simply by subbing salt for the honey and vanilla in the original dish, these move firmly out of dessert territory.  Just make sure you choose a good quality whole-milk ricotta here - I like the non-fat type fine in dishes like lasagna, but here it's the star and really needs to shine.  Finally, I'd consider the shallots in this dish optional - I added them because I had some on hand that I needed to use up, but I didn't think they were totally necessary.  They tasted good, but I think the dish would be just as wonderful without them.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Nectarines (loosely adapted from Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals)
Serves 4

1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 T kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pound pork tenderloin
1 T honey
1 tsp water
1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 T butter
4 free-stone nectarines, halved and pitted
2 shallots, thickly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and place a baking pan in the oven so it will be hot when you add the meat.  
2. Mix together the cardamom, coriander, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
3. Trim the pork, and pat it dry.  Rub it all over with the spice mixture.
4. Heat a large skillet over high heat, and add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the pork, and sear, turning occasionally, until nicely browned (about 8 minutes total).
5. Meanwhile, stir together the honey and water in a small bowl.  Place the ricotta cheese in another small bowl and season with salt and pepper - stir to combine.
6. Once the pork is browned, pull the baking dish out of the oven.  Add the butter, and tilt the pan a bit to distribute it evenly across the bottom.  Add the browned pork.
7. Toss the nectarines and shallots with a little oil, and then place them around the pork, with the nectarines cut-side-down. 
8. Place the baking dish in the oven, and roast 5 minutes.
9. While the pork is roasting, add the honey-water mixture to the hot skillet (off the heat) and stir to scrape up any browned bits and to melt the honey.
10. Remove the pan from the oven, and brush half the honey mixture over the pork.  Return to the oven, and roast another 5 minutes, until the pork is barely pink in the center.  Brush the remaining honey mixture over the pork.  
11. Flip the nectarines over, and fill each with a little spoonful of ricotta cheese.  Serve with the roasted pork and shallots.

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