Up until about 10 or 11 years ago, I had never really thought or worried about where my food came from. It came from the grocery store. That’s all I thought I needed to know.
I think that’s why I was so excited when I heard the Old World Butcher Shop was opening inside the market. We don’t eat much meat, but when we do, we pay attention to where it came from. I love that I can come into the market, walk over to the butcher shop and chat with Frody while he trims my pork tenderloin. That’s something rare, and it’s something special. He told me how fresh the pork was saying, “It’s still so tender. It was slaughtered yesterday.” I knew I was in for a treat.
With fall arriving on Saturday morning, I knew I wanted to use fall flavors to go with the tender pork. I went with fresh thyme, fennel seeds, ground peppercorns, sel gris, and fresh garlic for the spice rub.
After the tenderloin was rubbed with the spices and tied with twine (for even cooking), I seared it in my stainless steel skillet, added some diced apples and onions and a sprig of fresh thyme, and then moved it to the oven to roast for about 20-25 minutes.
The result is always magical when you start with such high-quality meat. But I have to say, the spice rub was phenomenal with the pork, apples, and onions.
While the pork rested, I tossed some locally grown, organic purple-skinned potato and rainbow carrot sticks with the rest of the spice rub and quick-roasted them in the still-hot oven.
All in all, I’d say the perfect autumn dinner.
Pork Tenderloin with Thyme-Fennel Spice Rub and Cider Cream Sauce
For spice rub:
1 tsp. whole fennel seeds
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. very coarse sea salt (I used sel gris I got from my friend in France)
4 thyme sprigs, leaves only
1 large garlic clove
For pork and sauce:
One 1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed
a little extra virgin olive oil
1 large honey crisp apple
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh apple cider
a few tablespoons of cream
1-2 large red or purple-skinned potatoes, cut into matchsticks or julienned
6 carrots (I used organic rainbow), cut into matchsticks, or julienned
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
For spice rub:
In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the fennel seeds, black pepper, sea salt, thyme leaves, and garlic clove.
Drizzle a little olive oil on the pork tenderloin and rub about 3/4 of the spice rub all over the meat. Let stand for a few minutes. Tie the pork tenderloin, if desired, for even cooking. (See this article for how-to tips on tying meat.)
Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add a little oil and sear the pork tenderloin on all sides, lowering the heat a bit, if it starts to burn. Add the onion, diced apple, thyme sprig, and a bit of water to prevent burning on the bottom of the pan. Transfer to the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on stove-top. Transfer the pork to a plate and cover with foil. Allow it to rest while preparing the sauce and vegetables.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the vegetables with a little olive oil and the remaining 1/4 of the spice rub. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, or until tender.
While vegetables are roasting and pork is resting, deglaze the skillet with the apple cider, making sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring it to a simmer and add the cream. Allow it to reduce a little bit, but not too much, and transfer to a small bowl and cover it to keep the sauce warm.
When vegetables are finished roasting, transfer them to a serving platter. Cut the pork tenderloin into thin rounds and lay across the vegetables. Serve with the cider cream sauce on the side.
Makes enough for 4.