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Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Olives

Looking for a delicious main course that’ll impress your guests, but is easy enough for an every day meal? Look no further than this pork tenderloin roast, cooked with figs and olives, a recipe inspired by my friend, Marie, whose blog, Proud Italian Cook, always leaves me hungry.

It’s near the end of fig season here in the Northeastern U.S., and if you don’t have your own fig tree, I hope you have FWF (friends with figs). My own fig tree, a new transplant that produced only one edible fig so far this year, was not up to the task, but fortunately I have a few FWFs, including my friend Dorothy, who invited me to help myself.

The recipe calls for some fig preserves, and fortunately, I still had some I made earlier in the year. But you can easily purchase fig preserves from the store.

I stewed them for a few minutes in port wine to soften them a bit. Careful not to cook them too long, or they’ll lose their shape since they cook further in the oven. Port wine and figs are a match made in heaven, but if you haven’t got port, you can use red wine, or even just water if you don’t imbibe at all. Add a cinnamon stick to the liquid for even more flavor.

Make a paste of fig preserves, garlic and some herbs and spread it over the roast. Surround it with the drained figs, scatter around some olives and sections of red onion. The first time I made this, I browned the meat, but much of the paste burned, causing me to scrape it all off. So I eliminated that browning procedure entirely the second time and it was delicious even without taking that step.

Roast it for about 20-30 minutes at 425 degrees, or until a thermometer reaches 145 degrees.

Let it rest for at least 5 – 10 minutes before slicing, then serve some of that luscious fig and port wine liquid on top.

It’s so tender and flavorful you’ll go back for seconds…. and thirds.

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Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Olives
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pork tenderloin, 1 to 1½ pounds
  • 1 dozen ripe figs, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large red onion, sectioned in pieces
  • about ½ cup green and black olives
  • MARINADE FOR THE PORK
  • 2 tablespoons fig preserves
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon each minced rosemary and thyme
  • salt, pepper
  • POACHING LIQUID FOR FIGS
  • ½ cup port wine and ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup fig preserves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Place the port wine, water, honey, fig preserves and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, add the figs and poach gently for about five minutes to soften and imbue the figs with more flavor.
  3. Mix the marinade ingredients together and smear over the pork in the roasting pan.
  4. Let the pork sit at room temperature with the marinade for about ½ hour.
  5. Fan out the onion sections around the pork, and also scatter the olives and drained figs in the pan.
  6. Spoon a little of the poaching liquid on the roast and place in a 425 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees.
  7. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest 5-10 minutes.
  8. If the poaching liquid is not thick enough to your liking, reduce over high heat for a bit.
  9. Slice the roast and ladle some of the poaching liquid on top before serving.
 

 

Chicken With Olives And Figs

Chicken with Olives and Figs

If you’ve ever eaten Chicken Marbella from “The Silver Palate Cookbook,” this recipe is somewhat similar in flavor, but with far fewer calories. It uses only two teaspoons of oil, rather than the 1/2 cup called for in the well-known recipe for Chicken Marbella. A few other things are different here. There’s cilantro, rather than parsley, balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and most noteworthy – figs rather than prunes. Unless you’re Stacey, from Stacey Snacks, (a real figaholic if ever I met one) the jury is still out on the figs. I think the prunes melt more into the sauce, lending a sweetness that the more sturdy figs don’t. But change is good sometimes. Both recipes are great for make-ahead meals, since they can be assembled and marinated ahead of time, then baked right before serving.

I made this with boneless chicken breasts that weighed a total of about 1 1/4 pounds. It would easily have served three people. However, you can use as much as two pounds of chicken with the quantity of ingredients in the recipe below.

Chicken With Olives and Figs

Adapted from a recipe in the Oct. 2004 issue of Health Magazine

about 10 olives, sliced in half (I used kalamata olives)
about 10 dried figs (slice some in half)
3 T. light brown sugar
3 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 t. dried basil
2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
boneless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 c. chicken broth

1. Combine all the ingredients in a zip-lock plastic bag, except the white wine and chicken broth. Let it marinate in the refrigerator at least four hours, turning bag occasionally. Leave it overnight if you want.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
3. Remove chicken from bag. Place in a casserole or baking dish. Pour broth and wine over mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

Olive And Ham Bread

Olive and Ham Bread

“Le Matte,” the group of Italian women I’ve told you about, who meet each week to chit-chat in Italian, met at my home last week. Over the years, these gatherings have morphed from a simple coffee and cake gathering to an event with an intimidating array of savory and sweet treats. Recently, we’ve tried to limit the foods to two savory and two sweet items. Otherwise, the hostess has to spend too much time in preparation, a deterrent for many who might otherwise offer their homes for the meetings. It seems to be working, along with another new twist started in the last few months. We now team up with a partner and share the work. That makes it much easier and more fun too.

Last week I teamed up with my friend Anna, who hails from the Trentino region, and who also happens to be a great cook. (Well, actually most of the women in this group are terrific cooks.) I made the sweet things -a pastiera and lemon tiramisu – recipes I’ve already posted. Anna offered to make the savory foods and chose two different breads including this olive and ham loaf. It has a really tender crumb and it’s packed chockful with flavorful ingredients. After the group had dispersed, she left me a couple of slices which we ate for dinner that night, alongside some sauteed vegetables and couscous. But it’s also great all by itself if you’re having friends over for dinner and want a little something to serve beforehand with drinks.

One of the ingredients Anna uses in the recipe is mimolette cheese, something I had never heard of before. It’s a cow’s milk cheese that has a greyish crust and an orange-colored interior, and sort of resembles a cantaloupe. Anna said if you can’t find it, you can substitute a good quality aged cheddar cheese instead.

Mimolette cheese

Olive and Ham Bread

For the ham, ask the person at the deli counter to cut you a thick slice of baked ham, then dice it into small bits.

5 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
3 T. mixture of fresh herbs, minced: Italian parsley, basil leaves and chives
3 T. strong French mustard
salt, pepper

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup rye flour
1 T. baking powder

1 1/4 sticks melted butter
1 cup grated mimolette cheese or sharp aged cheddar cheese
1 7-ounce piece of baked ham
1 cup pitted green olives

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
Butter a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan and coat lightly with flour.
Beat the eggs with a fork, then add the milk, herbs, mustard, salt and pepper to taste.

Sift the flour and the baking powder in a bowl; Add the melted butter, the grated cheese, the olives, the egg/milk mixture and the ham.

Blend the ingredients with a wooden spoon and transfer to the loaf pan. Bake for one hour. The cake is done when a sharp blade inserted in the center comes out dry. Wait 15 minutes before unmolding on a cake rack.