Author Notes: I always felt meh about pork tenderloin because it seemed like such an anemic, pale piece of an animal that is anything but. However, this cure for the pork is simple and transformative, and the cabbage is saucy enough to moisten the whole dish. Be aware that the pork is cured for 4 days before being cooked. If I want it extra salty (perhaps to be sliced and served on toasts with chutney, as an appetizer), sometimes I'll cure it for up to 6. - adoozy
For the pork (4 days in advance)
- 2 pounds pork tenderloin (probably 2 tenderloins)
- 5 bay leaves, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries, smushed with the side of a chef's knife
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, smushed like the juniper
- 5 cups water
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt
For the cabbage
- 2 ounces butter
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2.5 cups hard cider
- 2 heads green, napa or savoy cabbage
- 2 tablespoons salt
- black pepper, to taste
- Bring 2 cups of water with bay leaf, juniper berry and crushed red pepper to boil in a large saucepan.
- When it boils, turn off heat, cover and steep for 20 minutes.
- Add sugar and salt, stir to dissolve and add the remaining 3 cups of water.
- Put the tenderloins in a container just large enough to hold the liquid and the meat, and pour the brine over to cover. Refrigerate for 4 days.
- For the cabbage, melt the butter in a stockpot over medium-high heat. When it starts to bubble and brown a little bit, add the onion and cumin and cook til well browned.
- Add the cider, stir together, bring to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes or so to reduce the liquid.
- Add the cabbage, put a lid on the pot and wilt it, turning with tongs every few minutes. Cook til the volume is reduced by half
- Season with salt and pepper, adjusting as necessary.
- Remove the pork from the fridge about an hour before cooking, dry with a clean towel and rub all over with oil. Preheat the oven to 450˚.
- Heat a large cast-iron pan over high heat and cook the tenderloins til browned on three sides. When you get to the fourth side, put the pan in the oven and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into the fattest part of the meat reaches 140˚ for a medium,
- Wrap the meat in foil and rest for 10 minutes, then slice and plate with the warm cabbage and its sauciness on top. Not a terribly pretty plate, but dang it tastes good.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Pork with Cider