Quick-cooking roast pork tenderloin gets a flavor boost from sage, shallots, garlic and roasted grapes. Recipe below.
There’s more than a hint of autumn in the air lately, and I say bring it on. The no-cook dinner salads and quick-grilled everythings of summer are all well and good, but I like heartier fare. Roasts, stews, serious soups… These are the foods that excite me on a primal, lizard brain level, both in the kitchen and at the dinner table.
Pork tenderloin is the perfect way to transition back into serious cooking season. It’s leaner and lighter than a lot of roasting fare. It also requires as little as 15 to 20 minutes in the oven, so you’re not overheating the kitchen in the cool-but-not-yet-cold fall weather.
This recipe takes advantage of how well pork plays with fruit flavors. The idea for it just kind of assembled itself in my head after I saw an article in an Italian food magazine about roasting grapes. In the magazine, they served the roasted grapes with ricotta cheese on mini focaccias, but I immediately made the leap to creating a savory roasted meat dish. Sage also teams well with pork, adding a slightly peppery flavor—and it’s often used in Italian cuisine. (Conveniently enough, it’s also growing in our yard.) Within moments, I had pretty much settled on the ingredients and techniques that became the recipe below.
As a quick side note, I think adding grapes to a pan of roasting chicken legs and shallots about halfway through the cooking time might also be quite good. Be sure to toss the grapes with olive oil first, to avoid scorching them.
Pork Tenderloin with Sage and Roasted Grapes
Serves 4 to 6
4 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 to 2-pound pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus 3 whole leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2-1/2 cups assorted seedless grapes (I used red and green)
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place shallot halves in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, pat tenderloin dry and arrange 3 sage leaves along the top. Truss tenderloin with kitchen string in four places along its length, tying the sage leaves to it as you do. Rub the tenderloin with olive oil, making sure to coat the sage leaves too. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.
Heat a large ovenproof lidded skillet over a medium-high flame. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the tenderloin on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes total. While tenderloin is browning, place grapes in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Transfer the tenderloin to a plate. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and chopped sage to pan. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add broth to pan and remove from heat.
Return tenderloin to pan. Using a slotted spoon, gently arrange shallots around meat—they will want to fall apart, so handle them gently to minimize their collapse. Add grapes to pan, cover and roast for about 10 minutes. Uncover pan and continue roasting until an instant read thermometer registers 150ºF when inserted in the thickest part of the tenderloin, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the tenderloin. It will still be slightly pinkish inside, but that’s perfectly okay—and it beats the heck out of tough, dry and overcooked.
Transfer tenderloin to a cutting board, tent with foil and let it rest 5 minutes or so. Slice into 1/2-inch medallions and plate. Top with grapes, shallots and pan juices.