I love pork tenderloin, but primarily brine it and cook it on the grill. Wanting an indoor cooking method and a fancier dish, I decided to go with sautéed medallions with a flambéed pan sauce. The pan sauce was inspired by a desire to use a beautiful Kirschwasser from Clear Creek Distillery. This led me to dried cherries and Syrah port. I added bacon, shallots, and garlic for some savory notes. Thyme and French four spice (a blend of white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves) rounded out the flavors. Cooking time for this dish is less than 30 minutes, so even with prep you can get this dish on the table in under an hour. (Photo courtesy of my brother) -hardlikearmour —hardlikearmour
Test Kitchen Notes
My taster, rubbing her hands together, said “Pork and cherries: A perfect match.” Hardlikearmour’s recipe adds explosive twists to this natural pairing; booze, fire and French four spice. The port plumps the cherries and adds a deep tone to the sauce while the extinguished Kirschwasser doubles the cherries’ voice. The fire is just cool, even if I was not very collected about the whole flaming process (my taster had to set the thing alight and hold me back as it burned long enough to caramelize the cherries). Finally, just the wee bit of French four spice in here gave a distinct savory tingle to the finished dish. - cheese1227 —cheese1227
- Serves 3 to 4
½ cup dried sweet cherries
½ cup Syrah port
1 pork tenderloin (approx. 1.25 lbs)
freshly ground pepper
grapeseed oil, avocado, or other high heat neutral oil, plus more if needed
bacon, diced into 1/8- to ¼-inch pieces
2 medium to large shallots, thinly sliced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup chicken stock
3 T kirschwasser
¼ to 1/2 teaspoons
french four spice
1 & ½ teaspoons
minced thyme leaves, divided
- Place cherries and port in a 2 cup glass measure or large coffee mug. Heat in microwave for 1 minute to start plumping the cherries. Set aside.
- Remove silver skin from pork tenderloin. Cut the tenderloin crosswise into 1-inch thick slices. Use the side of your knife to smash the slices so they are an even thickness of about 5/8- to ¾-inch. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 T grapeseed oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Do not use a nonstick skillet. Once oil is shimmering, add half of the tenderloin medallions and sear each side. Use a tongs to turn medallions. This will take 1 & ½ to 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate, and sear the second half of the medallions, adding another splash of grapeseed oil if needed. Reduce heat to medium. Add a cup of water to the pan and scrape the bottom to deglaze the fond, which at this point is probably black and yucky. Rinse the pan out in the sink. The bottom should be pretty clean. Wipe the pan out with paper towel (or set on hot burner) to dry.
- Heat remaining 1 T oil in the now clean pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and bacon. Cook scraping bottom frequently, until most of fat has rendered from the bacon, and the shallots and bacon are becoming golden brown (about 5 to 6 minutes.) Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Add the cherries and port. Scrape bottom of pan to deglaze, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken stock, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Once the cherries have nicely plumped (about 3 to 5 minutes), remove the pan from the burner.
- Add the kirschwasser. Replace the plan on the burner, and wait 5 to 10 seconds for the kirschwasser to warm, then using a multi-purpose lighter or a fireplace match carefully light the alcohol vapor. Once the flames have subsided stir in the four spice and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme. Nestle the pork medallions in the sauce, and pour in accumulated juices. Heat pork medallions for 2 minutes on one side, then turn them and heat to an internal temperature of 145 to 150º F.
- Plate out 3 to 4 slices per person, taste pan sauce and add more four spice or salt if needed. Thin with more chicken stock or water if needed. Spoon the cherry pan sauce evenly over the portions, and sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves. Enjoy!