Every morning, my drive to work takes me past a little red farm stand and the orchard of apple trees that occupies the hill behind lately have exploded with fruit. Last week, I gave into temptation and stopped on my way home to buy a peck of crisp, tart McIntosh apples.
Much as I love pies, tarts, sauce, and butter, I'm always in search of ways to expand apple's repertoire and so I finally dipped into my copy of The Fresh Honey Cookbook by Laurey Masterton. The cookbook itself contains several enticing apple recipes, but inspired to make use of what's in season locally, I adapted the pork tenderloin recipe below to include those blushing macs in place of oranges. The results? Tender pork, sweet-tart apple flesh, softened by roasting, playing against mustard's spice and the tang of lemon; in other words, delicious. Similarly, while my honey wasn't orange blossom, it comes from Berkshire Farms Apiary, so it's filled with the flavors of local wildflowers. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get much sweeter than that.
Pork Tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey Mustard
Pork is well complimented by sweet things. On a trip to Tuscany, I was wowed by a dinner of local pork chops served with a sweet onion confit made with sugar. The flavor stayed with me and, after making my version of that dish a number of times, I decided to play with it, using honey and fresh fruit. Here’s what I came up with.
2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey, preferably orange blossom honey
1 navel orange [Blog note: or modified: two small, tart, local apples; I used McIntosh]
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Here’s what you do:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Drizzle the pork with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season with the garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the surface of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the tenderloins. Turn when browned, after about 1 minute, and cook for 1 minute longer. Ideally, each tenderloin will curve close to the sides of the pan, leaving a space in the center.
- Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Combine the mustard and honey in a small bowl and blend well with a fork. Spoon the mixture over the pork.
- Cut the orange into thin slices, leaving the rind on. [Blog note: I left the skin on the apples, and after coring and seeding, sliced them about a quarter-inch thick.] Layer them in the skillet, lining them up on the center of the pan, overlapping to cover all the spaces in the pan.
- Roast the pork in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 145°F. Remove from the oven and squeeze the lemon juice over the pork. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
- Slice the tenderloins in diagonal slices, about 1 inch thick. Place a slice or two of the cooked orange on the plate and put the sliced pork on top. [Blog note: The apple slices got soft and lost their form during roasting, so I spooned them over the top of the pork. Not as beautiful visually as oranges, perhaps, but extremely tasty.] Spoon the pan drippings over the sliced pork. Oh my!