Behind the Dish: Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes

Our Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes is yet another adaptation from Julia Child’s cookbook with Jacques Pépin, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. In our version of the dish, we’re using pitted dried plums as the prunes, and instead of the black currant jam called for in the original recipe, we’re substituting blackberry preserves and plum preserves. Otherwise, we’re keeping to Julia and Jacques’ recipe: sautéeing chunks of perfectly trimmed pork tenderloin until they’re seared brown, adding shallots, deglazing the pan with red wine vinegar, then adding brown stock, ketchup, the preserves, the port and the prunes to the developing sauce (the preserves help thicken and add flavor to it). A fresh parsley and basil garnish provides the finish.

We’re serving our pork with an ideal accompaniment: Israeli couscous, which is larger than the tiny and yellow North African couscous you may have enjoyed in many dishes. Israeli couscous pearls are about the size of barley pearls or Italian orzo pasta, and they will absorb the flavor of this sauce beautifully. Which is good, because we don’t want you to miss a drop.

If you try making this kind of dish at home, keep in mind that just as with Beef Bourguignon, browning the meat properly is crucial. That means making sure it’s dry and well trimmed, and that you’re not trying to cook too many chunks at once. Better to cook in batches than to try to cook too much at a time and not get the proper caramelization you want. Also, this is one time when you definitely don’t want a non-stick pan. Ideally, as you remove the pork temporarily from the pan to make the sauce, the meat will stick to the pan a bit, leaving brown bits behind for the deglazing process. Stainless steel and anodized aluminum work well.

Of course, we hope that now that you’ve read about it, you’ll be eager to taste it. We’re happy to oblige!

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