I’m not sure that I can quite believe it’s already time to start talking about things like cooking with cranberries and holiday entertaining, but seeing that my calendar tells me Christmas Eve is a mere six weeks away, our chat isn’t nearly as premature as I think.
The first seasonal party I’m attending is only three weeks away, and I’ve sent out invitations for my own festive celebration in December. Oh, and last night, when I walked the dog, there were snowflakes swirling around my head as I marched down the street in the dark anxious to return home to the pot of soup I left behind simmering on the stove. I don’t think there is any denying it: winter is on its way and the holidays aren’t too far behind her.
I love cooking in November and December more than any other time of year, and I’ve finally accepted that I’m a fall and winter food fanatic through and through. The flavours of this season are the ones that resonate with me most, leaving me completely smitten with everything from roasted squash and pomegranate arils, to potato-anything and tart cranberries.
I keep a cache of cranberries tucked inside my deep freeze this time of year, and use them in baked goods, beverages, syrups, jams, relishes, and sauces, especially those that are served with and over meat. While a chutney-style condiment is most common, I like to transform these sour, juicy orbs into a thick, sweet sauce that’s ideal for drizzling over pork.
How do you feel about pork tenderloin? I’m a fan. This lean protein is perfect for weeknight family dinners, and not only does it cook up quickly but it also pairs well almost everything that’s currently in season (apples, pears, pomegranates) making it ideal for right now. And while the cranberry and balsamic glaze is optional, it elevates this simple dish just a little, turning it into one that can easily be made for weekend or holiday entertaining; from what I hear, it’s not too early to start thinking about that sort of thing.
Pear and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
This lean protein is perfect for weeknight family dinners. Not only does it cook up quickly, but it also pairs (no pun intended) with almost everything in season. The balsamic glaze is optional, but elevates the dish and turns it into one that can easily be made for weekend or holiday entertaining.
- 2 pork tenderloins (about 3lbs. total)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 oz. goat cheese
- 1 pear, halved, cored, and sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
For the balsamic-cranberry glaze:
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Butterfly the pork tenderloin by making a deep cut to the middle of the loin along the full length of the meat, leaving at least ½” intact at the bottom. Open the meat like a book, cover with plastic wrap, and pound it slightly with a mallet or rolling pin.
Season the inside of the meat liberally with salt and pepper and spread the goat cheese over one half of the meat, close the centre opening. Lay the pear slices on top of the cheese, close up the meat and tie it together with kitchen string, making knots every 2”. Season the outside of the meat with salt and pepper and set aside.
Place a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, seat the meat on all sides until well browned. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the meat for 15-20 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 155-160 degrees.
Remove the meat from the oven and place it on a plate. Cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, set the skillet over medium heat and whisk in the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup, taking care to scrap up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cranberries and rosemary and bring the liquid to a low boil. Cook until the sauce is thick and syrup and the cranberries have burst; season with salt and pepper.
Slice the pork tenderloin into ½” thick pieces and lay them on a platter. Spoon the glaze over the top of the meat and serve.