I have fallen in love with the site Feasting At Home. The site's writer, Sylvia, has a focus on seasonal preparations and seasonal ingredients, which is what I found in this slightly complex but entirely delicious recipe of hers.
There are three key players: the marinade for the pork; the hard cider sauce; and the sautéed apples.
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin whole
1/4 C fresh lime juice and zest from one lime
1/4 C fresh orange juice and zest from one orange
1/4 C maple syrup
3 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
I didn't know what to think about the lime in the marinade. Lime and maple? It sounded super weird. But I went for it and it all works. The combination of both citrus flavors really cut through the syrup and added a bright freshness. I prepped the marinade the night before I cooked this, so I had a full 24 or so hours of flavor permeation. I'd definitely recommend you marinate as long as you can.
The main difference is that she grilled her tenderloin whereas I baked it in the oven until around 140 degrees. After letting it rest for a few minutes, I sliced it up and plated.
Hard Cider Sauce
1 T butter
1 large shallot finely diced
1 cup hard apple cider
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 of a whole serrano chili, seeded and finely diced (I used one small jalapeño)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (half and half will curdle)
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste (add last)
After softening the shallot in butter, you add the cider, stock, and pepper, bringing the whole mixture to a boil. I bought all of the ingredients for this recipe at the Greenmarket and was so excited to find freshly pressed local apple cider. Then I got home and realized I needed hard cider, not regular old tart-n-sweet cider. But I went with it anyhow, added a splash of Maker's Mark for the booze component, and it was delicious. Simmer to reduce by half (around 20 minutes), then slowly whisk in the cream and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. I used light cream instead of heavy and, as Sylvia warned me in the recipe, it separated a bit. Not the prettiest end result, but certainly still tasty.
It was creamy and sweet, but the heat from the pepper creeps up on you in the back of your mouth. It's Mouth Spicy, but not Stomach Ache Spicy, if you know what I mean. Such a neat twist to this sauce. The spicy was off-set by the cider, but also the soft apples served on the side.
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 apples unpeeled and thickly sliced (I used Gala)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage (I used rosemary - all I had on hand!)
1 1/2 teaspoons teaspoons sugar (I skipped this; see below)
1/4 teaspoon salt
These are fantastic and I highly recommend you make them even if you don't do the other components. Especially now that we're in the height of Apple Picking Season, this is a great way to turn them into something other than desserts. After slicing your apples, cook them on medium heat in olive oil until tender. Add in your chopped herb(s), salt, and splash of cider. Since my cider was non-alcoholic, I figured it was sweet enough already and I left out the additional sugar. Once the liquid evaporates, the apples are ready to serve.
This is a sweet, spicy plate of autumn - it truly felt like a fancy weeknight feast. The pork is so tender and is punched up with the peppery apple sauce. The Gala apples still have a slight bite to them and work beautifully with the fresh rosemary. This does take a little bit of prep, especially if you do the marinade ahead of time, but you can make the sauce while the pork bakes, which is what I did. If nothing else, head over to Feasting At Home and check out some of the other beautiful recipes she has created and shared!