Until I moved to France, I always thought the term for "filet mignon" was reserved for that delicate and delicious cut of beef. However, I recently learned it also applies to pork tenderloin.
One of my favorite cuts of pork, the tenderloin is indeed tender. It's low in fat, which can make it rubbery or chewy if not prepared correctly. That said, it's not a difficult cut of meat to work with, and this recipe has been a proven crowd pleaser over the years. In fact, I served this when we held our housewarming party back in October, and one of our friends remarked that he was surprised by how tender the meat was because he was expecting to to be chewier.
Luckily, it doesn't take a lot of work to make these cuts tender. In this case, I used hard apple cider, a specialty of Brittany. It's cheap here (about €1.60 - €3.00 at my local supermarket; artisanal versions are available from other vendors at higher prices), makes a good cooking liquid, and it's flavorful and refreshing to drink to boot (in fact, I'm sipping on some as I type this).
If you're looking for some, I suggest going with the brut version, which is dryer than the douce (sweet) version. The sweet ones tend to have added sugar (though not always), which helps for making a more caramelized sauce, but I find the dry version adds more depth to the flavor of the meat. And if you can't find hard apple cider where you are, you can use an inexpensive dry white wine such as a sauvignon blanc, muscadet or even a chardonnay. And if you're not into using alcohol in your meals, you can also substitute a non-alcoholic sparkling cider, or even a regular apple cider, though the alcohol is partially what helps make the meat tender. Other than the cider, all of these ingredients should be relatively easy to find (and even the cider isn't difficult to find).
One last note before the recipe: Some people like to strain their pan juices after cooking to make their sauce smoother. Personally, I think you lose a ton of flavor when you do that. I don't mind having a chunky sauce, but if that's your thing, I suggest using either an immersion or a regular blender to obtain smoothness.
The recipe and more pics are below. If you give this a shot, let me know what you think. And if you do, post a pic on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and tag it with #eatfrenchclub.
Easy marinated pork tenderloin in cider sauce
- Approximately 2 pounds pork tenderloin
- Two tablespoons whole grain mustard
- Two cloves garlic, minced
- One shallot, minced
- One teaspoon dried thyme
- One tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup brut hard cider
- 1 cup vegetable bouillon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C.
- Combine mustard, vinegar, garlic, shallots, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl. Mix well.
- Place pork tenderloin in a nine-inch baking pan and smear mixture over each side, ensuring that the marinade gets into all the nooks and crannies.
- Marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Add vegetable stock and cider to pan and place in oven.
- Cook for approximately 1 hour, spooning liquid over meat ever 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven when internal temperature reaches 165. Remove meat from pan and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Pour pan juices into a medium-sized sauce pan and add a tablespoon of butter. Reduce until thickened.
- Slice pork tenderloin on the diagonal. Spoon reduced sauce over the top.
- 9-inch deep baking pan
- medium-sized sauce pan