Despite the tree + twinkly lights, Christmas ornament making, and nonstop holiday music playing, the lack of snow on the ground, plus 50 degree days in our forecast, have me longing for that last piece of Christmas sparkle.
Since the weather isn’t going to cooperate I’m taking matters into my own hands and creating a festive dish that just screams “HOLIDAYS!” Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry-Pear Sauce is a bright and beautiful recipe to spark some holiday spirit!
Cranberries are of course thought of as a Thanksgiving side dish staple, but they’re abundantly available at the grocery store all holiday season long – so much so that after the 10th time I passed by the display in the produce section, I decided to snag a bag and give this dish a go. I’d never cooked with fresh cranberries and was eager to not only give them a starring roll in the luscious sauce enveloping juicy roast pork slices, but actually taste one to see how tart they really are.
Whelp, everyone is not wrong – fresh cranberries are ta-ART! So tart! I can definitely see why they’re usually doused in sugar to the tune of 6 teaspoons, or 2 Tablespoons, per 1/4 cup serving in the leading canned cranberry sauce. I embraced and highlighted the fact that cranberries are uniquely tart by using less than 1/4 cup sweetener in the entire recipe for the Cranberry-Pear Sauce that’s draped over with pork tenderloin, plus used naturally sweet foods like honey, fresh oranges, and ripe pears in place of white sugar.
Let’s talk about the aforementioned roasted pork tenderloin! Honestly my Mom overcooked pork chops so often when I was growing up that I didn’t eat them or any other non-bacon pork products for decades. It wasn’t her fault though! Pork used to have to be cooked to a tough 165 degrees but can now be safely cooked to just 140 degrees which leaves pork tenderloin, especially, juicy and ridiculously tender.
Pork tenderloin is also an incredibly economical cut of meat. They are on sale for $3.99/lb all the time at my grocery store, so I usually stock the freezer whenever I get a chance. Did I mention it’s quick cooking? Let’s slap a beard on pork tenderloin and give it a sleigh because it truly delivers, just like Santa.
Start by rinsing then adding 6oz fresh cranberries (you could use frozen,) to a saucepan. Don’t you love their festive, ruby-red color? I wanted to string then hang them on our Christmas tree the way Jo and Amy would have done in Little Women, alas, my child would probably try and eat them. Well, just the first one. Did I mention how tart fresh cranberries are?
Next add the juice of 1/2 orange, 3 Tablespoons honey, a peeled then chopped Bartlett pear, dash of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup water then place the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down to medium-low then simmer until the cranberries have burst and are tender, and the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes. Pour into a bowl then chill completely.
You can make this sauce several days ahead of time and the leftovers taste great on everything from turkey sandwiches to ice cream. I love the balance of sweet and tart – plus again, it’s just so gosh darn beautiful. Oh, and your house will smell incredible while it cooks!
Onto the main event – a 1-1/2lb pork tenderloin (not pork LOIN.) Like I said, this is an extremely economical cut of meat and is often on sale at the grocery store. The meat stays really juicy and tender using the sear >> roast method – you’ll love it!
First trim the tenderloin of any extra fat or tissue, then season all sides liberally with salt, coarse ground black pepper (the spiciness contrasts so well with the sweetness of the sauce!) onion powder, and dried thyme leaves.
Heat a thin layer of your favorite high-heat cooking oil – vegetable, almond, etc – in the bottom of an oven proof skillet (I love my Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet!) over medium-high heat then sear the tenderloin on four sides until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side. Stick the whole skillet inside a 450 degree oven then roast anywhere from 8-15 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the center of the tenderloin reads 140 degrees.
Transfer the tenderloin to a cutting board then let it rest for 10 minutes before carving into fat slices, and serving with the Cranberry-Pear Sauce. Feast with your eyes, then with your fork!
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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry-Pear Sauce
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry-Pear Sauce is easy and filling, and features a delicious sweet-tart sauce sweetened without refined sugar!
- 1-1/2lb pork tenderloin (not pork loin,) trimmed of any silver skin
- salt and pepper
- onion powder
- dried thyme leaves
- High heat cooking oil like almond oil or vegetable oil
- For the Cranberry-Pear Sauce:
- 6oz fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 ripe Bartlett pear, peeled then chopped
- juice of 1/2 orange
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- dash of cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- For the Cranberry-Pear Sauce: add ingredients to a saucepan then bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low then simmer until cranberries are tender and sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce into a bowl then chill (can be done several days ahead of time.)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season entire tenderloin generously with salt, pepper, onion powder, and dried thyme. Add enough oil to a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat to thinly coat the bottom then add the seasoned tenderloin and sear on four sides until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side. Place skillet into oven then roast for 8-15 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin reads 140 degrees.
- Transfer tenderloin to a cutting board then let rest for a minimum of 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with Cranberry-Pear Sauce.
- For an easy side dish, turn oven down to 425 degrees after removing pork tenderloin, then roast green beans tossed with extra virgin olive oil and seasonings for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
- I love my Le Creuset Cast Iron Enameled Skillet for this dish.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
If you like the combo of sweet and savory, you’ll go nuts for this easy and economical dish. Leftovers are absolutely killer straight out of the fridge, too! I hope you enjoy!