Do you ever look around and wonder "Where did today go?" You realize that while it would be nice to have dinner ready in the next hour or so, you haven't been to the store, and haven't taken anything out of the freezer? I know this has happened to you. It has, right? I can't be the only one! Just lie to me! Tell me it's happened to you too!
Ok, I'm calm. This was one of those meals. A few weeks ago, I had one of those time-warp days, and I began to rummage in the freezer. The thought process went something like this: "Ah-hah! A pork tenderloin. A little quick-defrost and we'll be in business. Flavors? Hmmm." At this point the tenderloin gets put in to defrost while I scan the kitchen. "Ooh, got an apple. Apples are good with pork. Apple and onion...and that lonely-looking orange, I can use that too." A quick dive back into the freezer for a slice of home-cured pancetta, and I was beginning to feel like I could pull this off.
I diced the pancetta (after another quick defrost) and relieved it of much of its precious, delicious, herb-tinged fat. Into this translucent goodness went a sliced yellow onion, and after the onions had turned golden and a little sweet, a cored, quartered, and sliced apple joined the party. Mustard seeds, pepper, and the juice of the lonely orange also jumped in the pool and happily simmered away as I sliced the pork tenderloin into medallions and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I poured the apple-onion mix into a bowl and set it aside, then seared the pork in the same pan. After both sides were browned, the apple-onion mixture was poured back in and the whole pan went in the oven for about 15 minutes, until my trusty meat thermometer said all was well. A splash of apple cider vinegar to balance the acidity, a side of broiled asapragus, and dinner was served.Not bad for a meal thrown together in a hurry.
Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions
This dish reminds me of some sort of German or Alsatian food, and would be nice with a Riesling or other gentle white wine. If you're going to pair them, you might as well put a little of the wine into the apple-onion mix as it's cooking. Mmm. Fresh herbs like thyme or sage would also be nice additions. I use an electric oven, so change the oven technique as necessary if yours is gas.
1 pork tenderloin, sliced into medallions, 2 1/2 " thick
1 thick slice of pancetta, about 2 oz
1 large apple (I used a Johnagold), cored, quartered, and sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 orange, juiced. (Feel free to add in a little of the zest as well.)
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds (Caraway seeds would be nice here as well, substitute as you see fit)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tb apple cider vinegar
Dice the pancetta and place in a large cold skillet, then place skillet over medium heat. Render the fat and cook the pancetta until it is golden, then remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Set aside. Place the sliced onion in the skillet with the reserved pancetta fat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden. Add the apple and continue to cook. The apple will release quite a bit of juice; use this to scrape up the tasty browned fond on the bottom of the pan. As the apples are getting softer, add the mustard seeds, pepper, and orange juice (and zest, if using). Simmer for about 3 minutes, or until the apples begin to get tender. We don't want them falling apart or dissolving. Pour this mixture into a bowl and set aside. Season the pork with salt and pepper, bring the skillet up to temperature and spray with non-stick spray. Turn on the broiler in your oven. Add the pork and sear until it takes on a nice browned color, then flip and repeat. After the pork has been seared, pour the apple-onion mixture back in the pan with it and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. We want the hot temperature of the broiler, but don't want the food to be too close to the heating element. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers around 155 F. The meat will continue to cook after you pull it out of the oven. Add the apple cider vinegar and reserved pancetta, stir, carefully taste, and add salt or pepper if you deem necessary.