I am so ready for fall after such a blistering summer. Sweaters, fire pits, warm drinks, hot soups. I am jumping the gun here, because the weather has not at all turned, but here’s a fabulously autumnal dish to make when the time is right. In season apples with the pleasing pucker of pickling and a nice hint of spice are paired with tender pork in a sweet and savory sauce with the tang of mustard. It’s a multi-dimensional dish, pretty to present but not at all complicated to prepare. You can even get a head start a day or two ahead.
I love a honeycrisp apple for this, but any red apple will do. Slice the apples very thinly so they pickle quickly and evenly. I add pre-prepared pickling spice, but if you don’t keep it on hand, just use a few cloves, a bay leaf, some coriander seeds, a piece of star anise – whatever sounds good. The mustard seed in the pickled apples is perfect with this pork and its sauce. A simple mixture makes a marinade and a sauce and can all be done a day ahead. A bite of pork tenderloin with the sweet and tangy mustard sauce and a kiss of pickled apple is an amazing combination. Get a nice brown sear on the tenderloin before it finishes in the oven. You could also do this with a larger pork roast if you prefer, but I think the small medallions of pork with slice of apple on top and a swipe of sauce are the perfect balance. Any leftover pickled apples are fabulous on a cheese board or a sandwich. You could serve this with some roasted sweet potatoes or root vegetables for a real fall feast.
Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pickled Apples
- For the Apples
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons pickling spice
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 large honey crisp apple, or two medium, cored but not peeled
- For the Pork
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup grainy mustard
½ cup white vermouth or white wine
1 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 ½ pound pork tenderloin (1 piece or 2)
Salt and pepper
4 Tablespoons butter, cold
- For the Apples
- Put all the ingredients except the apple into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Slice the cored apple very thinly on a mandoline or slicer, then layer them in a pint jar. Slowly pour the hot pickling liquid over the apples in the jar, stopping occasionally to let the liquid travel to the bottom of the jar. Push a thin knife, spatula or skewer down the side of the jar to let the liquid permeate. You may not use all the liquid, but make sure the apples are covered. Cool slightly, then screw the cap on the jar and refrigerate overnight, or up to a week.
- For the Pork
- Mix the sugar, mustard, white wine and chopped sage in small bowl, whisking well until the sugar is dissolved. Add a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Put the pork tenderloin in a ziptop bag or an airtight container and pour over ½ cup of the mustard mix. Seal the bag and squeeze to cover the tenderloin in marinade. Put the bag on a plate and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Cover the bowl with the rest of the sauce and refrigerate as well.
- When ready to cook, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large, deep cast iron or oven safe skillet that fits the pork and heat over medium high heat until very hot. Shake off any excess marinade from the pork and put it in the skillet. Brown on one side then turn and brown on the other. Turn the pork with tongs and it should lift up easy and not stick to the pan when it is browned. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the center reaches 140 degrees. When the pork is cooked, remove it from the oven and place on a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
- While the pork is cooking, pour the remining sauce ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until reduced by half, stirring frequently so it doesn’t scorch. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter, a tablespoon piece at a time, waiting until one piece is melted before adding the next. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- To serve, pour the pickled apples into a bowl. Slice the pork tenderloin and serve with the sauce and the apple slices on the side. (I pour the apples into a bowl so I can use a fork to lift out the slices. Any leftover apples go back in the jar with the liquid poured back over. Store in the fridge for up to a week. Add to sandwiches or salads or a cheese plate).