I was promoted to a new position at Bethesda Magazine and one of my new responsibilities is directing the ‘Cooking Class’ photo shoot. The photo shoot takes place at a local cooking school and the pictures show each step in the preparation of a seasonal dish. This November/December issue’s Cooking Class featured a stuffed pork tenderloin and I got to watch the chef demonstrating the process and explaining techniques and terms. At the end of the shoot I tried the pork…it was really good but a bit heavy on sage and unbalanced in flavor. After tasting the pork I was inspired to make the dish myself with a stuffing that would pair well with our cider. It was a success! The dish is work intensive but perfect for a holiday meal or special occasion. It is tender, bursting with flavor, and versatile…you can modify the ingredients in the filling to suit your tastes and to showcase what is in season.
This wine, though not remarkable on its own, was successful with the meal because it didn’t compete with the strong and complex flavors in the pork…it just complemented them. The wine was light and smooth with a cherry aroma that brought out the cherry accent in the pork. The flavors in the pork brought out notes of the wine that may not have been noticeable if this wine were drunk by itself. When I tasted the pork and then drank a sip of the wine I noticed more spice and fruit nuances.
As last remnants of our first attempt at hard cider, this light and crisp cider had the perfect flavors to compliment the stuffing in the pork. We are sad to see the last of our cider to go but have no fear! We will be starting a nice spiced cider for the fall/winter next weekend. Stay tuned!
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin:
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped Golden Delicious or other baking apple
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup dried cherries
2 tsp. fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup hard cider
1 boneless pork loin, 2 1/2 lb.
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup hard cider, plus more as needed
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp sage
½ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. cayenne
The day before:
Combine the apricots, cherries, thyme, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, and rum and leave in the fridge overnight.
The day of the meal:
To make the stuffing, in a large fry pan over medium-low heat, warm 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the apple and onion and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the mixture of soaked apricots and cherries. Next, add the apple cider and boil, stirring occasionally, until the cider is absorbed by the stuffing, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Combine rub ingredients and spread onto a baking sheet.
Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 400°F. Have ready 4 pieces of kitchen string, each about 18 inches long.
Using a sharp, long knife slice a hole longways in the tenderloin from end to end. Spoon the stuffing into the meat and, using your fingers, push it into the opening until stuffing is evenly distributed throughout the center of the pork. Using the strings, tie at even intervals so it assumes its original shape. Push in any stuffing that escapes from the ends. Roll the tenderloin in the rub spices so that the rub coats the outside of the pork. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan and brown tenderloin on each side. Pour 1/2 cup of the cider into the pan and place in the oven.
Roast the loin for 30 minutes. Baste with the pan juices and add the remaining 1/2 cup cider to the pan. Continue to roast, basting at least twice with the pan juices at regular intervals, until the meat is firm to the touch and pale pink when cut in the thickest portion, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145°F, about 45 minutes more.
Transfer the loin to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Scrape the pan bottom to dislodge any remaining bits, then pour the pan juices into a serving pitcher.
Cut the loin into slices and arrange on a warmed platter. Serve the hot cider sauce on the side.