Recipe: Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Sauce, Wild Rice, Chard and Toasted Pecans

PORK TENDERLOIN WITH APPLE CIDER SAUCE, WILD RICE, CHARD AND TOASTED PECANS, by Mike MacKinnon

I tend to plan my meals in a fairly random fashion – an urge or craving strikes me, or a particular ingredient catches my eye, and I run with it. Today it was wild rice. I had bought some a while ago, for no real reason, thinking “you hardly ever see wild rice in fine dining dishes. Why not? I bet I could do something with this.” Then it sat in the pantry for a few weeks, until today, when I woke up determined to use it somehow.

so I had pretty much everything on hand except the pork. I had a winner.

So I Googled “wild rice recipes”. At first I wasn’t really finding anything I cared to cook (blah, blah, pilaf, blah, blah, soup . . . cooked wild rice? Really? YAWN.) but then I came across this recipe on Closet Cooking for a pork tenderloin with a roasted apple sauce, wild rice and greens. I’d never read this blog before but the recipe looked like it fit perfectly with what I was in the mood to cook. Plus we had just received our produce box from Organics Delivered.

so I had pretty much everything on hand except the pork. I had a winner.

After a quick trip to the grocery store to fill in the gaps,

Pork Tenderloin

I got to work. While I was prepping, my lovely girlfriend Jenny was taking photos of the raw ingredients. Jenny is a photographer , so we’ve been having fun lately honing her food photography skills and my cooking chops at the same time.

Cooking is all about timing. It’s important to plan ahead and prep your food so everything comes together at the right time. When building a dish you don’t want to have any one component sitting around waiting for too long – nobody likes cold food, and many a dish has been undone by having one or more parts finished before they should have been. So I looked over the recipes to determine which order to tackle them in. I decided to start with the wild rice, since it was going to take the longest to cook. I modified Kevin’s recipes slightly – mainly substituting dried cranberries for raisins, using the boozy kind of cider and using the pecans to finish the whole dish, not just the rice.

APPLE WILD RICE

1 tablespoon oil
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 cup wild rice (I used Lundberg’s Wild Blend)
1 handful dried cranberries
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Chop the garlic, onion, carrot and celery together into a fine dice.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Add the garlic and vegetables, season with salt and pepper and saute until softened.
4. Add the wild rice, cranberries, bay leaf, chicken stock, apple cider and bring to a boil.
5. Simmer covered until the rice is al dente, about 50 minutes. Check at intervals and if it needs more liquid add some.

Next I got to work roasting the apples for the apple sauce. This may get a little confusing as we’re actually making two sauces here – one is an apple sauce to be used in the cider sauce. Make sense?

ROASTED APPLE SAUCE

4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:
1. Toss everything in a bowl.
2. Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the apples are very soft, about 30-50 minutes.
3. Process in a blender or food processor.

Once the apples were in the oven, it was time to get to the pork. I rubbed the tenderloin with oil, seasoned it liberally with salt and pepper and seared it on all sides. Then it went into a roasting dish and into the oven, next to the apples, for about 30 minutes.

Once the pork was out of the oven, I tented it with foil to rest. Now I was reaching the crucial moments – the time when everything comes together. First I had to get the cider sauce reducing.

APPLE CIDER SAUCE

1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup apple sauce (see recipe above)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 handful dried cranberries
1/2 tablespoon sage, chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 pinch cinnamon

Directions:
1. Reheat the pan used to sear the pork tenderloin.
2. Mix all the ingredients together, bring to a boil in the pan.
3. Lower heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced by half.

Lastly, it was time to cook the chard and toast the pecans.

SWISS CHARD

1 bunch Swiss chard
olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Prepare the chard by cutting away and discarding the ribs and slicing the remaining leaves.
2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat
3. Add chard leaves, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until chard is wilted.

For the pecans, I simply tossed a handful onto a baking sheet and placed in the oven at 325F.

Now all the components of the dish were ready and it was time to plate.

To assemble the dish, I packed a ramekin with some wild rice and then turned it upside down onto a plate. Then I topped it with some of the Swiss chard and a thick medallion of the pork tenderloin. I spooned cider sauce on top and around the rice, sprinkled with toasted pecans and garnished with a sprig of rosemary.

We paired the wine with a 2009 Zenato Pinot Grigio. Jenny chose the wine as she felt the dryness and acidity would balance the sweetness and tartness of the apples and cranberries in the pork dish. She was absolutely right. I felt the chard also complemented the wine nicely, bringing out a touch of earthiness to the finish of the wine.

4 comments

  1. Wow! That looks awesome. Nice touch on cooking the rice with apple cider and chicken stock. I usually do mine in just chicken stock, but I bet the apple cider really kicks it up a notch.

    I love the plating too. That’s one thing I’ve got to keep working on. Unfortunately when I’m cooking up my “Not Bad” dinners, the ehem, customers (wife and kid) are usually pissed at me for taking so long.

    Great post, I’ll definitely be giving this one a try!

    Cheers
    Brian
    norcalwingman

    1. Yes the presentation really makes the dish look interesting. Mike,to my knowledge, has never had any formal training or experience in the food industry. -so there is some hope for the rest of us!

      1. Thanks, guys. Tim, I have worked in kitchens before but that was a long time ago and they were all fast food dumps.

        Brian, it’s only been recently that I’ve begun cooking with the presentation in mind. I find that if you take into consideration how the finished dish is going to look from the beginning, it’s fairly easy to make it turn out that way. Working with a photographer helps too – the camera doesn’t lie, so I’m getting a pretty good idea of what looks appealing and what doesn’t.

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