Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Apricot Jam Plays Well With the Pork

Sometimes in winter the cold weather outside encourages us to be in the kitchen and play, spinning out the hours in the warmth and delicious smells as we try out new recipes or re-visit cherished ones. But what happens when it is warm out and sunny?

Here in Northern California we are praying for rain because this has been a pretty dry 'rainy season' so far. While it can be nice to be able to sit outside at lunch time in the sun, it is unsettling to know that without some rain I may have to curtail what I grow in the garden this spring and my bay area neighbors may run out of drinking water. So the answer is to hope for rain and... we end up needing a quick dinner because there have been 'better' things to do than be in the kitchen.

I found pork tenderloin on sale at the market so I was able to pull together a super quick meal because the whole cooking process takes about 35 minutes and for 20 of that you can be making a salad and/or side dish. It's the apricot jam that makes this dish sing! We were gifted anonymously on Boxing Day with the most lovely jar of home-made apricot jam. It was the perfect thing for this dish, although I would imagine that any apricot jam would be OK. I loved that this one wasn't too sweet and had a wonderful apricot fragrance. Many thanks to the donor...and I hope I find out who it was so I can thank you properly.

I also included some of the lovely roast garlic and a bit of white wine in the sauce for an added depth of flavor. If you don't have those the sauce will be fine without it.

Apricot Pork Tenderloin with Apricot-Roasted Garlic Sauce
based on a recipe in Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/4 lbs, trimmed
Salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup apricot preserves, divided
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 - 2 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
1 tablespoon dry white wine (optional)

Rinse the pork tenderloin and pat it dry with paper towels. Generously season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the olive oil in a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet and heat over medium-high heat until sizzling. Sear the tenderloin until well-browned on all four sides, about 3 minutes per side. Brush 3/4 cup of the apricot preserves over the top and place the pan in the oven to finish cooking the tenderloin, about 15 - 20 minutes. Cook to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees. Mine was at 165 degrees and was still quite pink in the middle.

Transfer the cooked tenderloin to a cutting board with a well. Cover loosely with foil and let the pork rest about 5 minutes.

While the pork is resting pour the pan drippings out of the pan and discard the oil. Add the water to the pan. Over high heat bring the water to a boil. Stir with a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup apricot preserves, the thyme and the roasted garlic (and wine if using). Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Simmer another 2 minutes to melt the preserves into the sauce and meld the flavors.

Thinly slice the tenderloin and serve slices with the sauce spooned over the top.
Serves 4

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