Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Pork Tenderloin Roasted in Mustard & Thyme with Roast Carrots & Brussel Sprouts
It's pouring down rain here in New York. Bitter, icy sheets of the stuff. It's not pretty, but there is a silver lining. It's perfect roasting weather.
There is something about having a roast in the oven that makes me feel all is right with the world. There’s real victory in that moment when you close the oven door and realize that your work is done and all that’s left to do is wait for the delicious aroma of Sunday Lunch to fill the house.
The thing about roasting is that it takes almost no work on the part of the cook and results in intensified, caramelized flavors that I find immensely comforting. Plus let’s face it, roasting is one-pan cooking, and the less dishes you have to wash, the better. I’ve mentioned how much I like to roast chicken for dinner. Pork tenderloin is a wonderful option to consider at the end of a long day because, unlike said chicken, it only takes 45 minutes to cook.
This is a recipe I grew up eating, prepared by my English mother who is an expert roaster, as was her mother before her. Here I’ve chosen carrots and brussel sprouts to roast with the meat – both because they’re a great seasonal match for the twang of the mustard, and also because they’ll cook in the same amount of time as the pork. If I have more time on my hands, I might add some classic roast potatoes, peeled, parboiled, roughed up to create just the right sort of crisp exterior, and then roasted alone for 45 minutes before the meat joins them in the oven.
Have your butcher trim the fat and silverskin from the tenderloins. It’s not difficult work, but it's still nice when somebody else does it for you.
2 pork tenderloins (approximately 3 – 3½ lbs each), fat and silverskin trimmed
4 tbsp Dijon mustard, plus another teaspoon or so for the pan sauce
9 stems fresh thyme
1 large or 2 small bunches of carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel unless their quite mature), quartered or halved lengthwise depending on width, and cut into lengths
3 cups brussel sprouts, bases trimmed and outer leaves removed
freshly ground black pepper
2 glasses red wine
freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 425 F
Rinse and pat dry the pork. Mix together the mustard, 4 tbsp of olive oil, the leaves from 4 – 5 stems of thyme, and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt. Coat the tenderloins all over with the mustard mixture and set aside.
Put the carrots and brussel sprouts into a medium, stove top safe roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the leaves from 3 – 4 more stems of thyme and toss all the ingredients together to combine. Spread the vegetables out evenly on the bottom of the pan and then arrange the two tenderloins on the bottom of the pan as well. Put the pan on the center rack of the oven and roast for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F and roast for 40 minutes more. When finished, the pork should be firm to the touch and ever so slightly pink in the center, but I never cut into it to check – that’s how meat dries out. Unless the meat was almost frozen when you put it in, or unless your oven runs spectacularly low, 45 minutes will do the trick.
Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the two tenderloins to a plate to rest for 10 minutes before carving and tent loosely with tin foil. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and tent with tinfoil. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove. Add the wine and then turn the heat onto medium. Use a spatula to scrape up any caramelized pieces from the bottom and sides of the pan. You need these to flavor the reduction sauce. If juices accumulate in the plate the pork is resting on, add those too. When the wine has reduced by at least two thirds, remove from the heat and check the seasoning with more salt and pepper. You may whisk in a little more Dijon mustard for flavor if you wish, and I usually like to brighten the sauce with a spritz of lemon juice.
Slice the tenderloin fairly thickly (somewhere between ¼ and ½ inch thickness is what I like). Serve with the roasted vegetables and spoon over the pan sauce.