Fresh Orange Pork Tenderloin

This recipe courtesy of Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan                      

Like us, the French love to pair pork tenderloin with fruit (dried and fresh), with sauces (sweet and sticky), and with herbs and spices (mild and hot).  But here's a recipe that strikes me as being a little different.  It's got some spice -- cardamom --  and it's got fruit, but the fruit is orange, which gives the dish a light, refreshing feel.  Like most pork tenderloin recipes, this one is quick enough to make on a busy weekday.     Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large oranges (navels are good)
  • 1 large pork tenderloin, about 1 1/2 pounds, or 2 smaller tenderloins, each about 12 ounces, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon mild oil (such as grapeseed or canola), plus more if needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped, or 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped, or 8 scallions, white and green parts only, finely chopped
  • Seeds from 4 cardamom pods, bruised with the flat side of a knife

Instructions:

  1. Peel 2 of the oranges all the way down to the flesh, then cut between the membranes to release the segments.  Cut the segments crosswise in half.  Remove the zest from the other 2 oranges with a zester or vegetable peeler, being careful to avoid the white cottony pith if using a peeler;  if you removed the zest with a peeler, slice the strips into long thin strands.  Cut the zest into pieces 1 to 2 inches long.  Squeeze the juice from the 2 zested oranges.
  2. Curt a large tenderloin into 8 pieces or smaller ones into 4 pieces each.  Try to get the thickness of the pieces as even as possible, so they will cook in the same amount of time.   Pat the slices dry between paper towels.
  3. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and oil.  When the mixture is hot, add the pork slices, without crowding, and brown them for 2 to 3 minutes on each side;  season with salt and pepper when you turn the pieces over. (If putting all the pork in the pan would crowd it, brown the pieces in 2 batches, adding more butter and oil if necessary, then return all the pork to the pan.)  Add the orange zest, juice, onion, and cardamom, season everything with salt and pepper, and give the pan a stir.  When the sauce produces one little bubble, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan.  Cook the pork at the gentlest simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the orange segments, cover and continue to simmer for 3 minutes more, or until the pork is tender and cooked through.
  5. Remove the lid, and if you think the sauce needs to be cooked down a bit, transfer the pork and orange segments to a warm serving platter and boil the sauce until it reaches the consistency you want.  Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Serving:

The pork and oranges are good with potatoes or rice, but they're particularly nice paired with Broth-Braised Potatoes and Fennel (page 358 in her book) or Celery Root Puree (page 354 in her book).

Storing:

This dish is best served as soon as it's made --  because there isn't much sauce, it doesn't reheat very well.  But any leftover pork can be used for sandwiches or salads.

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