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January 10, 2008

Belated T-Day

Believe me, this is progress.

I knew I wanted to post recipes. I took copious notes! Then I sat on them for a month and a half. Oh well. In any case, here's one of this past Thanksgiving's successes. It's probably better if you ignore the amount of butter involved. Or promptly forget it once you've finished cooking.

Incidentally, as is done with the butter here, is it nice to have it broken into logical steps in the ingredient list, or is it annoying to not know at a glance, without adding, how much you'll need total?

Dominic Armato

2 pork tenderloins
2 Tbsp. butter
6 oz. bacon, sliced into short strips
½ tsp. salt
1 C. diced onion
1 C. diced Granny Smith apple
2 Tbsp. butter
2 C. coarse fresh bread crumbs
¾ C. port
1 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp. whole allspice
½ tsp. whole cloves
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. pork or dark chicken stock
¾ C. fresh cranberries
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ C. butter
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ C. chopped toasted walnuts

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Bacon Stuffing and Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Serves 4-6

To get the tenderloins ready for stuffing, take the longest, thinnest knife you have (a boning knife is perfect) and push it through the tenderloin, making a long slit lengthwise through the middle. If the knife won't go all the way through, insert it in one end at a time so the cuts meet in the middle. Then, turn the knife 90 degrees and do the same, so that the hole running through the tenderloin is cross-shaped. Then, take a wooden spoon with a long handle, insert the handle into the hole and stretch it until it's about ¾ of an inch wide. I find it helps to use one spoon on either end and rotate them around each other. Refrigerate the tenderloins until you're ready to stuff them.

To make the stuffing, heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium high. When the butter is melted and the foam subsides, toss in the bacon and sauté it, stirring, until it's slightly crisped on the edges. Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender. Remove the cover, add the diced apple and continue to cook until the apples are tender but still have some bite, about another 10 minutes. Take the mixture off the heat and salt to taste.

Meanwhile, combine the bread crumbs (a good crusty country loaf is best) with another 2 Tbsp. of butter in a large skillet and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until the crumbs are golden and crispy, about 15 minutes. Combine the crumbs with apple mixture, add a little salt if necessary, and stuff the tenderloins. Stuffing pork tenderloins is a little tricky. Just don't be shy about it. They call it stuffing for a reason.

To prep the cranberry sauce, combine the port (I think LBVs work nicely for this sauce) with the cinnamon, allspice and cloves in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then continue simmering over low heat until it's reduced to half its original volume, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the port through a fine-meshed strainer and pitch the spices.

In a clean saucepan, combine another 2 Tbsp. butter and the sliced shallot over medium heat, and sweat the shallot until it's translucent. Add the port reduction, the pork or chicken stock, cranberries and sugar and cook just until the cranberries have popped, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, then pass the mixture through a fine-meshed strainer, discarding the solids left behind. You want as much of the liquid as possible, so you'll probably need to stir the mixture a bit as you pass it through the strainer. This sauce base can be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated overnight.

To cook the tenderloins, first preheat the oven to 400°. Before cooking, season the stuffed tenderloins with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat, and when it just lets off a wisp of smoke, add the tenderloins, searing and turning until browned on all sides. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the tenderloins until the centers read 140° on a thermometer, about eight minutes. Transfer the tenderloins to a platter to rest for 5-10 minutes, covered with tented foil to keep them warm.

To finish the cranberry sauce, warm the sauce base in a saucepan over medium low heat, and whisk in the ¼ C. butter.

To serve, slice the tenderloins and top with a little bit of the cranberry sauce and the toasted walnuts.


personally, i appreciate a good "27 T butter, divided" at the get-go. because occasionally i will find myself in the house with no butter anywhere (because i have recently eaten all the butter, duh), and hate when i run out to buy exactly what i need, only to find out i mis-counted or mis-added, and i'm eight tablespoons short. though i do strive to err on the side of butter.

I agree with Heather -- the convention is to list the total amount needed in the recipe, and using "divided" indicates you won't be using it all at once. Also, the recipe serves as a checklist of what you have on hand or need to buy.

Thanks, Heather & Lydia...

I know it's an unconventional format, but I thought people might prefer to have it broken down for easier reference while cooking (when you're more likely to be looking at something in a hurry) than have it combined at the top for easier reference when shopping. I like it this way, but I'm just one guy, so I wanted to hear what other people thought.

In any case, I suppose the other way is conventional for a reason... thanks :-)

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