Pork Tenderloin with Cider Jus and Braised Fennel
7.2.10 § 2 Comments
Fennel is another one of those foods that I never had growing up. To be honest, I didn’t knowingly taste fennel until this winter, even though I’ve been a self-professed foodie for a few years now. Embarrassing, I know. Pork tenderloin on the other hand, is something I’ve always loved. My mom used to make it when I was young and for some reason, the thing I remember most is eating leftovers the next day—cold slices, heavily salted. While I think the leftovers are still probably my favorite part, I must say that this cider jus is pretty damn good.
In addition to apple cider, apple cider vinegar, chicken stock, and onion, the sauce is spiced with whole allspice pods (which I’d never seen before), cinnamon sticks, and a bay leaf. The original recipe calls for whole star anise as well, but I left it out after reading reviews that it overpowered the taste of the pork. I also substituted a sprig of fresh rosemary for the fresh thyme, but I’m sure it would taste great either way.
Like my experience with kale, now that fennel has become a part of my life, I really can’t get enough of it, especially when it’s braised. And I love the way it smells when you’re cutting it up. Between the cider jus and the fennel, the smells coming out of the kitchen last night were amazing.
I think the main thing to remember when you’re making pork tenderloin is not to overcook it. Since the cuts are so thin, it can be easy to do, especially if you plan to brown it before it goes in the oven. My new favorite technique for searing meat is to heat a cast iron skillet in the oven until it’s super hot, then use it to brown the meat on the stove top before popping the whole thing back in the oven. In this instance, it took awhile to brown the meat, so the actual cooking time in the oven was only about ten minutes.
While some people get scared by things like raw chicken and undercooked pork, I’ve never really been that worried about it for some reason. But for safety’s sake, I did some research about the temperature pork needs to reach before being eaten. The USDA says that 160° F is best, but I don’t really trust the government. Instead, I decided to trust the many food-centric sites I visited, which posit that you should pull pork out of the oven when the meat thermometer reads 145°, because the temperature will climb to 150° as the meat rests and this is a high enough temp to kill any parasites or bacteria that may be lurking around. In other words, pork that is pale pink in the center is juicier and tastier than pork cooked to a higher temperature, which will get dried out.
Pork Tenderloin with Cider Jus
adapted from Bon Appetit
2 cups apple cider
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 whole allspice
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 lb pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup water
Cut off and discard stalks from fennel bulbs, reserving fronds. Chop 1 tbsp fronds and discard remainder. Cut bulbs lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, leaving core intact.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown fennel slices well, turning over once, 3 to 4 minutes each side.
Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle fennel with salt and pepper, then add broth and water. Cook, covered, until fennel is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with fennel fronds.