Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Pink Peppercorn and Fennel Pork Medallions with Honey Roasted Apples and Carrots

Pork tenderloin was available at a really good price, but what to do with it? Luckily there was inspiration in the form of 2 soft apples, 3 carrots, an abundance of fennel seeds and about half a glass of white wine. This would all work well with the pork...adding pink peppercorns to the fennel seeds gave a hint of spice to the dish.  The natural sweetness in the apples and carrots was emphasized by the addition of honey, and roasting them caramelized all of the sugars. The acidity of the white wine cut through all of the sweetness and pulled everything together.

I used a russet potato and a rutabaga, along with the last of the whipping cream and Parmesan to make a gratin to serve with the pork.

I knew it was a success when my husband went back for seconds...and there were no leftovers to deal with.

I put the gratin together and into a 400F oven, as it would take the longest time to cook. While that was baking, I worked on the rest of the meal.

Place the apples and carrots into a roasting pan. You will need:

2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into pieces the same size as the apple slices

Drizzle with:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 tablespoon honey

Place the carrots and apples into the oven to roast until they are caramelized on the outside, and soft on the inside, about 45 minutes. Give them a stir two or three times during this roasting time.

If the carrots and apples are ready before the rest of the meal, take them out of the oven and put them back in to reheat about 5 minutes before serving.

To make the seasoning for the pork, place the spices into a spice grinder, and grind until fine:

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns

Clean a pork tenderloin and cut it into slices that are about 1/4" - 1/3" thick.

Sprinkle both sides of the slices with the ground spices.

Using a bit of olive oil and a really hot pan, sear both sides of the pork.

Lightly sprinkle the slices with salt just before placing them into the pan.

When both sides of the pork have been seared, remove the meat from the pan and place it on a tray, and put it into the oven to finish cooking, while you use the pan to make the sauce.

Keeping the heat on medium, add:

1/3 cup white wine

While the wine reduces to about 2 tablespoons, use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan. This is where all of the flavour for your sauce is.

Turn the heat to low.

Using a whisk, add:

1/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

Add one piece at a time, whisking until it is completely melted, before adding the next piece of butter.

This will result in a smooth, shiny butter sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep the sauce warm by removing it from the heat and placing it at the back of the stove.

Take the pork from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving it, along with the roasted carrots and apples. Pour the sauce over the pork once it is on the plates, or serve it on the side if you prefer.

  • When I started thinking about this meal, I wasn't quite sure how it would all turn out, especially since I seemed to be making most of it up as I went! This goes to show that sometimes you just have to try something to know if it will work. 
  • Fennel was chosen for two reasons: I have a lot of it right now, and it is a great spice to use with carrots, apples and pork (the licorice flavour really complements all three). Originally I was going to use cumin with the apples and carrots; this would also work with pork. Other spices to try are ground ginger, aniseed, cinnamon, start anise or Chinese five spice.
  • I used pink peppercorns as I have about 1 tablespoon of them and want to use them up before replenishing my stock. Despite their name, they are not related to black, white or green peppercorns...they are a berry from either the Brazilian or the Peruvian pepper tree. They are hollow inside, and they have less heat than the other peppercorns, instead having a citrusy flavour with a slight heat. These were perfect with the fennel, as neither one overpowered the other.
  • If you do not have any pink peppercorns, substitute black, white or dried green peppercorns, but if you do not want your pork to be too spicy, use only 1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns.
  • Other fruits and vegetables that can be roasted this way include pears, quince, parsnips, beets, rutabagas.
  • Instead of honey, try maple syrup, brown sugar or golden syrup.
  • The pork can be left whole, rubbed with the spices and then seared and roasted. To allow the flavour to penetrate the meat, make some shallow slits in the meat before rubbing the spices on, and make sure that some of the spices gets rubbed into the slits. The spices can also be rubbed onto the meat a few hours ahead of time.
  • When you are making the butter sauce, it's important that you do not let it boil once you start to add the cold butter, or your sauce will separate. By adding cold butter to a warm wine reduction, and whisking you emulsify the two. I used a gewurztraminer that was slightly drier than normal, so it still added the necessary acidity to the sauce.
  • To make a pan sauce without the butter, add wine and/or apple juice to the pan and allow it to reduce until it is the right consistency. You can add a small amount of jelly to the sauce to give some thickness and shine if you like.

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