I love cranberries. And that love goes way, way back. Back to the ridged, jiggly, jellied cylinder that slid out of the can at Thanksgiving. Back to the cranberry-cream cheese muffins and cake that my parents consistently sold out of at their bakery. Back to our newly-established Christmas tradition, a cranberry-studded biscotti. And I can’t wait to show you the cranberry margaritas!
But cranberries don’t have to be limited to sweet applications. Or happy hour It’s terrific on grilled chicken or leftover turkey sandwiches and pairs wonderfully with pork. And this Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce has been one of our fall favorites for the last 4 years. It’s our special occasion dinner during the holidays, when our gathering is small. And it’s our “pork tenderloin is on sale this week” dinner during the week.
Fresh cranberries are cooked down into a homemade whole-berry cranberry sauce while the pork tenderloin roasts in the oven. The cranberry sauce is then added to a pan sauce made with balsamic vinegar, garlic, and rosemary. The sauce strikes a tasty balance between sweet, savory, and tart.
And for the sake of the photo, I saved a small handful of the thawed cranberries to toss into the sauce during the last 5 minutes. This allowed them to soften enough to eat (boy are those things tart!) but still retain a pretty red color for photos.
Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce
Juicy pork tenderloin pairs wonderfully with a sweet & sour balsamic-cranberry sauce. You can take a short-cut and use 1 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce instead of making your own from fresh cranberries.
- 1 cup whole cranberries
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp sugar (more to taste, if desired)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup chopped shallot (or onion)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Bring water, sugar, and cranberries to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the berries and most of the water cooks off, leaving a homemade whole-berry cranberry sauce.
- Preheat oven to 400. Add olive oil to an oven-proof saute pan over medium-high heat.
- Pat pork loin with paper towels to dry. Season liberally with with salt and pepper and place in pan.
- Sear pork on all sides and place pan in the oven.
- Roast until thermometer inserted into center registers 155, about 20 minutes.
- Let meat rest in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
- Place pan over medium-high heat and add butter, shallot, and rosemary. Cook until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add broth and scrape up the bits from the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Add cranberry sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil, reducing heat to medium-low and simmering for ~15 minutes, until sauce has thickened.
- Slice tenderloin to desired thickness and serve with sauce.
Yields: 4 servings
Estimated time: 45 minutes