I adore pork in all of it’s delicious forms. Chops, bacon, ribs—they’re all special in their own piggy ways.
But tenderloin, when done right, is pretty much king of them all for me. Why? It’s a relatively inexpensive, lean cut of meat (I got this 1-pound organic, ethically raised cut for $7.50 at my local butcher) that packs a ton of flavor. It’s super easy to prep and roast, and the sky is the limit for toppings and sauces. I tried a twist on the basic pork and apples by serving my tenderloin with some bosc pears caramelized with white balsamic vinegar. So easy, so delicious, and perfect for the cold rainy days we’ve been having around here.
I know that I’ve been talking a lot about what I call “hippie” meat lately—organic, free-range, natural, grass-fed, cage-free what have you. I was so flippin moved by watching this powerful documentary that I, for a moment, considered dropping meat altogether from my diet. Me. Maker of prime rib and pork belly—and that’s just in the last few weeks.
But the next morning I came to my senses and started purchasing only local meat from a cruelty-free butcher. I’m not getting all preachy on you, but I do want to say this: the one thing we all want is for the meat that we prepare to taste incredible. The largest difference I have noticed between this new meat and the stuff I used to buy at the grocery is flavor. Ethics aside, I’ll never go back to grocery store meat simply because it tastes awful compared to the stuff I now get. And the price is not that much different. At all. If for no other reason, consider switching for taste.
Whew. Okay, stepping off my soap box now. For this recipe you’ll need a one-pound pork tenderloin, several cloves of garlic, and two pears.
Rinse and pat the pork dry, and then begin making tiny little slits all over, about 1″ deep.
Peel your garlic cloves…
And slice in half. Thirds if they’re whopping.
Insert the garlic slices into the slits…
…and season all over with salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 400F and heat one tablespoon oil in a cast-iron or stainless skillet (no non-stick for this recipe) over medium-high heat. Use tongs to place the tenderloin in the heated pan.
Brown for 10 minutes, turning every minute or so to prevent burning.
Meanwhile, halve your pears, core…
…and dice into 1/2″ chunks.
Once the pork has browned, place in an oven-safe dish (I always line mine with foil because I’m lazy and hate scrubbing pans). Pour in 3/4 cup of white wine and place in your preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Your skillet should look something like this. But don’t worry—we’re going to de-glaze it so all those little pork bits won’t be a pain to clean.
With the skillet still over medium-high heat, pour in 1/2 cup of white wine.
The wine will quickly boil and steam, so be quick to scrape all of those little bits off the bottom of the pan. We want all of that flavor to be incorporated into the caramelized pears.
Once it’s reduced a bit and all of the little browned bits have released themselves from the bottom…
…toss in your pears.
Measure out two tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar (you could use regular balsamic as well, but dilute it with a little water as it tends to be more intensely flavored). This super cool measuring shot glass is my new favorite kitchen tool—it makes measuring everything so easy! (Thanks, Jen!)
Pour in the vinegar…
…and add one tablespoon of dijon mustard.
Stir to incorporate and let the pears caramelize and brown for 3-4 minutes.
Oh these smell sooooo good.
Pull the pork out, cover in foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. It will continue to cook a bit.
Did I mention I have a helper in the kitchen? My little lady thinks that my measuring cups and dough hook are fantastic toys.
Those little legs and that cute diaper butt just crack me up.
When you’re ready to serve, top with the pears and pour a little of the pork pan juices over the top.
I love the flavors of the tangy pears and juicy meat together—sweet and savory combos are my fave.
Oh yeah, baby.
Throw in a vegetable side and you’ve got dinner. I went with sauteed broccoli raab.
When it’s time to carve, pluck those little garlic cloves from the meat. They lend flavor while it’s cooking but they won’t be fully cooked themselves. It’s not a treat to eat raw garlic.
It will be nice and browned around the edges with a light pink center. I don’t worry too much about internal temperature with tenderloin since it’s meant to be served medium. If you’re scared of undercooked meat, leave it in the oven a little longer.
Perfect. I love this dish. Make it for your favorite folks this weekend!
Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Balsamic Pears
- 1-pound pork tenderloin, rinsed and patted dry
- 6-7 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in 1/2
- 2 ripe pears
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon oil for browning
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup plus 1/2 cup white wine, divided
Preheat oven to 400F. Using a sharp knife make 1″ slits all over the tenderloin and insert garlic cloves. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a skillet (not non-stick) and place pork in hot pan. Brown for 10 minutes, turning every 60 seconds or so to prevent burning. Remove from heat and place in an 0ven-safe dish. Add 3/4 cup white wine and place in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash, core and dice pears into 1/2″ pieces. Leaving pork skilled over medium-high heat, pour in 1/2 cup white wine. De-glaze by stirring rapidly until all browned bits from the bottom of the pan are incorporated. Add pears, white basalmic vinegar and dijon mustard. Saute until pears are tender and caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove pork from oven, cover in foil, and let rest 10 minutes. While carving, remove garlic cloves. Serve 1/2″ slices with pears and pan juices on top.