Happy New Year! Wow, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. We traveled to three different states to visit family and friends, battled a few sicknesses (sinus and ear), snowboarded and snow-shoed, cooked up a storm, and finally returned home happy but exhausted. We were in need of some serious grounding, and this dish was just the answer. Usually I’m one for bright, colorful plates, but there’s something about the neutral palate of this dish feels just right when life gets crazy (and especially when the yard is blanketed in snow). A pork tenderloin gets rubbed with rosemary and thyme, then is cut crosswise into medallions, which are pan-seared until golden. A quick and insanely delicious apple cider sauce is made in the same pan, thickened with a bit of crème fraiche. The sauce is just a tad sweet, and I think I could eat it like soup if allowed. I serve the pork over polenta or pureed cauliflower (pictured here) or potatoes, to soak up the sauce (and to amp up the comfort level).
To balance the flavors, a zippy slaw is served alongside, made with rutabaga, raw green apple and walnuts. I know what you’re thinking. Rutabaga? In a slaw? Trust me on this! It has a hint of cabbage flavor and a firm texture, making it absolutely delicious in a classic slaw. The tart green apple adds a zippy sweetness and the walnuts give added crunch. The slaw is great with meat dishes (anything pork) or piled on sandwiches.
This was just the restorative meal we needed to settle us back in to our routine. James and I lingered at the table over a bottle of wine with Ella cuddled in our laps, talking about 2012 and the gifts and challenges it brought us. Maybe it was the feeling of contentment at that moment, or the clean plates in front of us, but we both agreed that 2013 is sure to be an amazing year.
Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Apple Cider Pan Sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 ¼ lb pork tenderloin , trimmed of fat and silver skin
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- 1/2 medium yellow onion , diced
- 1 crisp apple , such as Fugi, cored and cut into ½-inch dice (I leave the skin on, but you can peel it if you prefer)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 3 tablespoons crème fraiche
- Sprinkle the rosemary and thyme all over the pork tenderloin, pressing to adhere. Cut the pork crosswise into 1-inch medallions. Flatten the medallions slightly to form nice rounds. Season each medallion on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork medallions in 1 layer, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (there should be some space in between each medallion; if your pan isn’t big enough, do this in 2 batches). Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate (reserve the skillet).
- In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are lightly softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the apples. Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples and onions are golden and tender, 4-6 minutes (if the drippings on the bottom of the pan start to look too dark, add a small splash of water). Transfer the apples and onions to the plate with the pork (reserve the skillet).
- Put the pan back on medium heat and add the apple cider. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the cider by half (it should look slightly thickened). Whisk in the crème fraiche. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Add the pork, apples and onions back into the sauce (along with any juices on the plate) and stir to coat. Cook over gentle heat until the pork is cooked through and happily bathed in the sauce, about 5 minutes. Do Ahead: The pan can sit, covered (off the heat), for up to 30 minutes. Reheat gently before serving.
- To serve, place a big mound of polenta on each plate or in shallow bowls. Arrange a few medallions of pork on top of the polenta, and spoon the sauce over. Pile a mound of slaw on top or alongside.
Rutabaga, Apple & Walnut Slaw
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium rutabaga or kohlrabi , peeled
- 1 tart green apple , cored (unpeeled)
- ¼ cup toasted , chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons snipped chives
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil.
- Shred the rutabaga and the apple in a food processor or by hand. Put them in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Fold in the walnuts and chives. Taste and season with additional salt or pepper, if needed. Do Ahead: The slaw can be made up to 2 hours in advance and refrigerated.