So, Easter dinner at Dad’s house was quickly approaching, and with only five people to feed, the thought of a ham, and the weeks of leftovers it would provide, just wasn’t cutting it.
My sister, a good but reluctant cook, suggested a dish hat she had eaten at Christmas at another relative’s house. Pork tenderloin, dried cherries, mushrooms, port – it hit all the high notes. Now, my sister’s strength over the years has always been to take four or five ingredients and turn them into something tasty. So, when she e-mailed the recipe with 11 ingredients and paragraphs of instructions, we knew it had to be special, indeed.
We assembled a team of three, while my father, an 87-year-year-old neophyte cook, hovered nearby, eyeballing our progress and asking mostly pertinent questions.
The grandson of a butcher, my father was obviously appalled when I took his ancient wooden mallet and started pounding the pork tenderloin to sublime thinness.
“It’s already tender, it’s tenderloin, dammit, why are you doing that?”
“So it will cook really fast in the pan.”
“Why can’t you just cut it thinner?”
“Well we could’ve if it had been frozen, but it wasn’t.”
“Well, why didn’t you buy a frozen one?”
With one person assembling ingredients and chopping rosemary and mushrooms, and one searing the meat and one handling the sides of wild rice and roasted brussels sprouts, preparation moved ahead.
“Dad, stop eating all the cherries.”
“You putting these in there?”
“They go together, like turkey and cranberry.”
“But you don’t cook the cranberry with the turkey.”
An hour and a half later, we sat down to an Easter feast with enough leftovers to feed everyone the next night.
“Pretty good, pass the salt.”
Pork Tenderloin with Cherries and Port Sauce
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 pounds pork tenderloin, sliced 1-inch thick
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2/3 cup tawny port wine
1 cup dried cherries
1 1/2 cups baby portabellos mushrooms, sliced
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 Tbsp. chopped rosemary (fresh)
1 tsp. olive oil
Gently pound slices of pork tenderloin until 3/4 inch thick. (If the tenderloin is frozen, you can defrost it partially and slice it thinner.) Combine salt, garlic powder and black pepper and coat both sides of pork slices with mixture.
Coat a large saute pan with cooking spray and over medium-high heat, brown the slices of pork on one side about 1 minute. Don’t crowd the pieces. Brown in batches. Flip pork and brown other side. Remove to a platter.
Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, port, cherries and mushrooms to pan and with a wooden spoon scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan.
Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are softened, about four-five minutes.
Turn heat back up to medium-high and add broth, rosemary, olive oil and any meat juices from platter. Bring to a simmer and cook sauce about three minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add pork. Simmer three-four minutes until meat is done.