One of the easiest ways to elevate an everyday dish to something elegant and refined is by adding a little dried fruit. I love to cook with fruit in both savory and sweet dishes. When paired with roasted meat, it brings a subtle richness and a depth of sweetness that you can’t get from anything else, especially when using dark dried fruits like raisins or prunes.
Last week I was looking for something a little different for dinner. While we don’t eat pork very often because I feel it’s not the healthiest meat, sometime I get a craving for it. When we do eat it, I always buy organic, humanely-raised products from a butcher I trust. I picked up a succulent pork tenderloin in the morning and marinated it in a glaze of Dijon mustard and brown sugar. In the pan, I roasted it with shallots and dark, sweet prunes, which cooked down into a sticky, sweet pan sauce. I served the pork and sauce over some colorful smashed baby potatoes. They’re such an easy side dish. Simply boil a mix of small, colourful potatoes (“two-bite potatoes,” we call them) until they’re easily pierced with a fork. I used red, white, gold and purple potatoes – colours that are so pretty and festive on the serving platter. While the potatoes cook, melt a few tablespoons of butter with a crushed clove of garlic in a small sauce pan. Lay the cooked potatoes out in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly smash each one with a fork to expose the tender flesh. Drizzle the garlic-butter over the potatoes and sprinkle each one with a pinch of salt and pepper, then place them in a 400 F (200C) oven and cook until the the edges, and all the nooks and crannies you created when you smashed them, are crispy.
Pork Tenderloin with Plums
1 pork tenderloin (approx. 1.25 pounds)
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced + 4 whole cloves, peeled and slightly smashed
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dry)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
10 dried plums (prunes), chopped
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, dijon, 2 teaspoons olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Spread the mixture evenly over the pork. Place in a resealable plastic bag or glass marinating dish, cover and refrigerate for 4 – 6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Remove the pork for the refrigerator to start coming to room temperature.
In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over medium-low heat until they just start to soften, about 5 minutes. Smash the remaining 4 garlic cloves with the edge of a knife. Add to the shallots and continue cooking for a minute or two longer. Stir in the chopped prunes and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the vinegar.
Place the tenderloin in the center of the pan. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven. After 15 minutes, baste the tenderloin with the pan juices. Cook an additional 20 – 25 minutes, basting 2 -3 more times minutes, until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 F.
Remove from the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve the pork on a platter with smashed potatoes (see above) and drizzle the pan sauce over top.