Everyone needs an easy and elegant option for a special occasion dinner – this gorgeous Pork Tenderloin with a peppery crust and simple pan sauce is one of the most requested for birthdays and celebrations at our house.
Adapted from a much longer and complicated recipe from Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, this recipe tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen when in reality it can easily be done in 30 to 35 minutes. If you’re responsible for whipping up a special occasion meal on a weeknight, this is the recipe to use.
Serve it with a lovely puree of root vegetables or a simple mashed potato and you have a classic pairing. An elegant salad or steamed cauliflower easily completes the meal. There’s something about Cauliflower alongside a peppery dish; they always seem to complement each other. I’ve been known to serve this with Cauliflower Puree or Cauliflower Rice from time to time when I wish to keep the starchier vegetables at bay.
While this gorgeous meal doesn’t cut it as one of my $5.00 more or less Bargain Meals of the Week at $5.16, pair it with budget sides to keep it reasonable. Left overs could be thinly sliced and used the next day as Hot Broiled Open Faced Sandwich, in a Bahn Mi or Cuban. Eaking a second meal out of a first, more expensive one is one of my strategies to stay in budget. Make sure to check my strategies, below, on how to buy a pork tenderloin at a decent price. Watch carefully when buying pork tenderloin – Hormel and others have started cutting plain old pork loin down to tenderloin size and selling it at the premium pork tenderloin price.
Pork Tenderloin with Sauce Poivrade, serves 4 – 5
- 1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/4 pounds
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chicken broth or one cup beef and one cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons Black Currant Jelly
- 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of corn starch dissolved in about a tablespoon of water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season tenderloin with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and sear in hot pan with olive oil. When browned on all sides, remove to a small oven proof dish and bake until a thermometer reaches 155 to 160 degrees in the thickest part, about 25 minutes or so. Remove and tent with foil.
After the tenderloin is in the oven for about 15 minutes, in the pan you seared the tenderloin in, add 2 cups of chicken broth, the jelly, and the red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce to about one cup.Taste, stir in cracked pepper as desired. If serving children, keep the heat level in mind. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and simmer a few minutes to thicken. Keep warm.
Slice tenderloin thinly on the diagonal. Mix any accumulated juices into the sauce. When serving, serve three to four slices per person, drizzle a bit of sauce over each portion and pass the rest.
Notes: The best results will come from using a home-made or really good quality chicken stock and the Currant Jelly, which is not as sweet as most jams/jellys. Substitutions can be made, but try to stay with a good quality dark jelly or the sauce will really be sweet.
Kitchen & Cooking Hacks:
Four easy methods come to mind for crushing peppercorns:
- Use a blender and pulse several times on grind
- Use a mortar and pestle
- Place peppercorns inside a skillet and crush with a smaller pan, twisting and grinding
- Use a spice grinder (this is one of the hardest to control to get larger, cracked pieces)
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
- Believe it or not, I’ve already reduced this recipe to bare bones – well maybe not, because the original sauce recipe from the French Laundry called for getting real bones – riblets from the butcher, roasting them till brown, then extracting the goodness with 1/3 cup of water, simmering till nearly gone, then doing two more reductions, each with 2 cups of demi-glace – the first to about 1/2 cup, the 2nd to one cup. My cut back recipe is still really good, and quick enough to cook for dinner without making a hobby of it, but sometimes I trim my pork chops and save the bones just so I can have the bones to make this sauce.
- Pork Tenderloin: This is another item that is often on sale during the fall season; in our area I look for specials that are 2 for 1, often I find these on the cryovac Hormel tenderloins (we prefer to buy them NOT marinated and marinate our own, but that’s personal preference. I don’t really care for the strong tastes of some of the marinades they use.) Because Hormel often has coupons for their products for $1.00 off or $1.00 off two, I use those at the same time as the specials to maximize my savings. Be sure to buy two roughly the same size if you’re taking advantage of a BOGO offer. In this case, I had no coupons, it was $3.50 a pound. Cost: $4.38.
- Olive Oil: I have a little strategy for buying olive oil – using coupons and sales to lower the price, so click on the link. I think it’s important to use olive oil as opposed to many others – the health benefits outweigh a bit more extra cost, and it can be had at a very reasonable price. I also like the fact that Olive oil contains no hidden trans fats like Canola or Vegetable oil. Cost for this recipe: 16 cents.
- Chicken Stock: If you read me regularly, I make my own with scraps of vegetables and bones – here’s the basic recipe I use for Best Turkey or Chicken Stock - it’s not particular and though it simmers for a long time, the burner is barely on – I just count it as free.
- Jelly: Always try to use a coupon and buy on sale. I’ve noticed the currant jams and jellys are getting harder to find and are more expensive, they’re my preferred – not usually as sweet as the others, so that’s what I used here. My cost for 2 tablespoons is 49 cents. You could lower the cost by substituting regular old grape.
- Red Wine Vinegar: Every so often they’ll have coupons for vinegar, making name brand lower than store price. Best time to buy is generally around Easter for the basic White or Apple Cider. Summer is usually when you’ll find the good cooking vinegar on sale. Stock up on the best prices because they keep forever. Now and then you may see vinegar bloom – this is what they call “the Mother.” Not very attractive, but it does not affect the quality of the vinegar. My last bottle was around $1.00, so the cost is 3 cents.
- Pepper: Since this is a lot of pepper, I’m going to have to guess – 10 cents?
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 229 Calories; 10g Fat (39.7% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 74mg Cholesterol; 366mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
Put Your Own Spin on It:
The original recipe called for pork chops, so I often make this recipe with them. Sometimes I serve this dish with braised red cabbage, baked apple compote and potatoes, and it is also wonderful with cauliflower.
My Pay Off:
In the past, we often went out for special dinners. It’s hard to justify the cost when you can put a delicious and not too complicated dinner on the table like this that certainly looks restaurant quality and was easy to make. Consider that it was all for much less than the cost of a plate at an inexpensive restaurant, and to me, it becomes all the more attractive. This complete dinner for four to five isn’t much more than the cost of one of the premium meals at McDonalds.
Discussion: What are your easy, elegant meals bought in at a budget?