So I’ve already broken my promise to post once a week. I know, I know. I’m a horrible blogger, I get it. But I do have a good excuse! The problem is…I ate it.
Apologies aside, it hasn’t been too long since my last post – and hopefully not long enough to make your undeserved attention waver. The truth is, I succeeded in screwing up nearly every single dish I made this week. First it was undercooked beef, then it was over-baked french toast; under-seasoned and slightly underdone Cuban black beans followed. At least I can count on the fact that I make a pretty mean guacamole, but let’s be honest: mashing avocados isn’t exactly rocket science.
So I have admittedly been avoiding writing this new post until I remembered a recipe that I sort of created on a whim about a month or so ago and thankfully photographed. I think it’s worthy of sharing – certainly worthier than anything I made this week. The star of this recipe is actually pork – pork loin, to be specific. Bacon aside, pork in general just happens to be one of my least favorite meats. But every now and then, a perfectly cooked pork tenderloin really hits the spot. And I think this recipe might just convert all you fellow pork non-enthusiasts like me to reconsider it as a noteworthy protein option.
Pork Tenderloin with Soft Polenta and Blood Orange Balsamic Reduction
For the marinade/reduction
1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin
1/4 c blood orange juice
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
For the wet rub
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp chili pepper
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 tbsp course mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt + pepper
For the polenta
1 c polenta
1/2-3/4 c whole or 2% milk
salt + pepper
Blood orange segments
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
For the marinade: Place the pork tenderloin in a resealable plastic bag. Cut away the rind and pith from the blood oranges and separate the segments from the membranes. Reserve the segments in a tightly sealed container with a bit of juice. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into the plastic bag with the pork – about 1/4 cup. To the bag add the rest of the marinade ingredients: balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce and crushed garlic cloves. Press to remove air from the bag and seal. Massage the marinade into the pork a bit and then let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
For the wet rub: Combine all ingredients: oregano, chili pepper, fennel seed, course grain mustard and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Remove the pork tenderloin from the plastic bag and pour the marinade into a small, heavy bottomed saucepan. Season the tenderloin well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Massage the wet rub into the pork. Let it sit while you preheat the grill.
Turn the heat to medium-high and oil the grill well. When the grill is nice and hot, lay the pork tenderloin on a diagonal (45 degrees) across the grill. After about 4-5 minutes, turn the pork to the opposite 45 degree angle on the same side – basically you’re making an “X” with the loin. Grill for 4-5 minutes and then flip the pork and repeat the process on the opposite side.
Meanwhile, cook the polenta according to package instructions. When the polenta has absorbed all the water, whisk in the butter and milk until smooth and incorporated. It helps to heat the milk and butter together first, but it’s not necessary. Taste, season with salt and pepper, then cover the polenta and keep warm while you finished the pork in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the internal temp reaches 140-145 degrees F.
While the pork is in the oven, bring the marinade to a boil, reduce to simmer and begin reducing it over the stove until the mixture has thickened and coated the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, taste, season with salt and stir in a tablespoon of butter if you like.
Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest under tin foil for 15 minutes. To serve: slice the pork into medallions then spoon the polenta on a plate.
Place three or four pork medallions on top of the polenta. Garnish it with a few blood orange segments, microgreens and a spoonful or two of the warm reduction. A bit of good sea salt on top never hurts.