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Pork Tenderloin with Stewed Dried Fruits

Still undecided about what to make as your main course this Easter? For us, it’s typically lamb, or sometimes ham, but if you want to try something different, yet festive, easy and delicious, then give this recipe a go. Roast pork and fruit are a delicious pairing and perfect for any holiday or special occasion. It won’t keep you from your guests for long, since it can be prepared ahead of time and takes only a half hour to cook. You can roast the meat while you’re sitting down to pre-dinner drinks with friends and family. Stew the fruit the night before to save time, but even this takes only 15 minutes. I bought an assortment of dried fruits – peaches, apples, pears, prunes and apricots, plus some orange and lemon peel – and covered them with boiling water, a bit of sugar and a cinnamon stick and whole cloves.

The fruit can sit in the fridge overnight, and you can reheat it at the last minute, while the meat is resting. After you slice the meat, arrange the fruit around the sides, and pour both the meat juices left in the roasting pan, and the fruit juices all over the meat.

Buon appetito e Buona Pasqua a tutti.

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Pork Tenderloin with Stewed Dried Fruits
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1½ pounds each)
  • Dijon mustard
  • salt, pepper (or herbed salt)
  • herbs de Provence
  • about two cups of mixed dried fruits (apricots, prunes, apples, pears, peaches)
  • water, to cover
  • ½ cup sugar
  • a few strips of orange peel
  • a few strips of lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a couple of whole cloves
Instructions
  1. Bring the meat at room temperature and dry with paper towels.
  2. Smear a little olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan.
  3. Place the meat on the pan and smear with a light coating of Dijon mustard.
  4. Season with salt and pepper (or herbed salt) and a light sprinkling of herbs de Provence.
  5. Place the meat in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 140-145 degrees. (The temperature will continue to rise for a bit when you take it out of the oven.)
  6. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minute, then slice.
  7. FOR THE STEWED DRIED FRUIT:
  8. Place the fruit in a saucepan with water to cover.
  9. Add the sugar, the citrus peels, the cinnamon and the cloves.
  10. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until fruit is softened.
  11. Remove the citrus peels, the cinnamon stick and the cloves.
  12. Remove from the heat, and serve along the sides of a serving platter with the sliced meat.
  13. Pour the juice from the fruits and any juice from the meat (on the carving board) over the sliced meat.
 

 

 

Sauerkraut And Roast Pork

Sauerkraut and Roast Pork

Spring isn’t that far away, but old man winter is definitely making his presence known here in the northeast U.S. and many other states. Even though it was summertime when I first tasted this sauerkraut recipe, to me this dish says “winter.”

 I never liked sauerkraut until I tried this recipe by my dear friend Alessandra, who died two years ago. It must be nearly thirty years since my family was driving south from Austria into Italy, through the Dolomites. She and her husband Ernesto and their daughter Mariana were staying at her friend Bona’s mountainside chalet in Cortina D’Ampezzo. We had planned to drive into town and rent a place for the night, but all the hotels were booked. The kids were fidgety and I was relegated to the back seat with my then four-year old daughter, while our son Michael, then seven, claimed the front seat to avoid a second bout with car sickness. The tortuous mountain roads didn’t help. So when I called her to tell Alessandra there were no vacancies anywhere and we were pushing south to the next town, I was surprised to hear her say “We found you a place to stay.” Long story short, the place was Bona’s place, not a hotel, and we were all invited to join them for the night in a cozy home overlooking the village as  the ski lifts whizzed by overhead.
That’s when Alessandra made the sauerkraut. And that’s when my opinion of sauerkraut changed. It gets cooked in a pan with apples, onions, white wine, bay leaves and juniper berries and becomes a delicious amalgam of flavors during two hours in the oven.
I used juniper berries I brought back from Italy recently – freshly picked by one of my Italian cousins Maria Luisa from her country home in Emilia Romagna. I’ve seen berries on juniper bushes growing here in the states, but I wouldn’t recommend you pick them unless you’re sure they’re edible. You can buy juniper berries easily enough in grocery stores or online here.
Put them in a spice grinder, or use a mortar and pestle to crush them. Once you start pounding them, the smell that exudes will remind you of gin, not surprising, since they’re used to flavor that liquor.
I cook the sauerkraut for about two hours, stirring from the bottom every half hour, then I added the pork roast during the last 45 minutes or so. Below you’ll see two roasts brining. I was serving one on a Saturday night for a dinner, and another on Sunday for a Superbowl party. I have to confess that I added too much salt to the brine and Saturday night’s pork roast was too salty for my taste. No one complained though, but maybe they were just being kind – or were extremely hungry. To remediate for Sunday’s party, I took the remaining roast out of the brine and soaked it in only water, draining it again after two hours and adding fresh water for a second two-hour soaking. It did the trick and the second time around, the roast was much improved and the saltiness had been tamed. The recipe below reflects the correct brining solution.
I also added some sausage to the sauerkraut for the second party. You can never go wrong with more pork.

Sauerkraut
printable recipe here
(This makes enough for a big crowd (up to 20 people) so cut in half if you like)
4 bags sauerkraut (2 lb. bags)
4 apples, cut into large chunks
1 large onion, minced
1 1/2 cups white wine
12 juniper berries, crunshed
3 bay leaves
salt, pepper

Drain the sauerkraut and place in a large pan with the rest of the ingredients. Bake at 375 degrees for two hours, stirring from the bottom every half hour. This will also help to get a more even browned look, since the part near the edges seems to cook quicker.

After two hours, add the roast pork, covering with pieces of bacon. If desired, add pieces of sausage that you sautéed in a separate pan and cut into slices. Cook the roast until it still has a little spring to it, because it cooks a little more when you remove it from the oven. For the roasts in the picture (1 lb. 8 oz. each), they were cooked enough within 45 minutes, but next time would take them out a little sooner. The internal temperature should reach 140 degrees, but if you take it out at 135 or 138 degrees, it will reach that internal temperature just from resting for 15 minutes.

Brine for pork:
For one roast of about 1 1/2 pounds:
1 1/2 cups water (or enough needed to cover the roast half way)
2 T. salt
seasonings – I used fennel seeds and homemade seasoned salt made with home grown herbs – sage, rosemary, thyme and salt. (But this was another reason my pork was too salty, so I’d eliminate the ordinary salt and just use the seasoned salt next time.)
2 T. sugar

Place 1/2 cup water to boil with the salt and sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, take off the heat and add the remaining 1 cup water and the other seasonings. After the water has reached room temperature, pour into into a container with the pork. Let it soak for at least four hours, preferably overnight, flipping the roast once.

Pork Loin Stuffed With Prunes And Apricots

Pork Loin Stuffed With Prunes and Apricots

Same old, same old, plain old roast pork? Not this one. It’s gussied up and stuffed with prunes and apricots and easy enough to make for a weeknight meal. I started out with a large boneless pork loin bought on sale, one that would have served at least 12 people. I cut it in thirds and wrapped each piece for the freezer.

Last night I cooked one of the roasts for just me and my husband. It weighed only about 1 1/2 pounds, but there was enough meat leftover for another two meals. That’s because there is very little fat, no bone and it didn’t shrink during cooking. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there is very little fat, no bone and it can easily dry out if you cook it too long. If you brine the roast, even for just an hour, it will guarantee that you won’t end with a piece of shoe leather.

To brine a roast of this size, measure out a quart of cold water. Put about 1/4 of it in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup sugar, a couple of garlic cloves, some black pepper corns and some herbs. You could use rosemary or sage, both of which work well with pork. Bring the water to a boil and continue to boil for about two to three minutes to dissolve the salt and sugar. Take the pot off the heat and add the rest of the cold water. Put the pot in the refrigerator until the water is no longer warm. Place the pork into the water, turning it around once and store the pot in the refrigerator for at least an hour. You could even do this the night before you cook it if you want.

Take the meat out of the water and pat dry. With a sharp knife, cut a hole into the center of the meat and poke it all the way through to the other side.
Twist the knife while it’s in the center, to create a small stuffing “pocket.”
Stuff pitted prunes and apricots into the hole, using the end of a wooden spoon to poke the fruit into the center.

Cut little slivers along the outside of the roast and put little pieces of garlic into the slits. Sprinkle all over with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. Place in a small roasting pan greased with olive oil. Add one large onion, cut into quarters. Drizzle everything with more olive oil. Roast at 375 degrees for about one hour or until a thermometer registers about 135 degrees. Remove from oven. The temperature will continue to rise. Cover with foil and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.