Apples are officially in season and I'm excited to get cooking and baking with them. Fall is one of the best seasons for food, just because there's finally an opportunity to make hearty meals that all appeal to our comfort zone. Apples, more than any other fruit, best represent the season. They're combination of sweet and tart flavors, contradictory as well as complementary traits, seem to fit the unpredictability of autumn just perfectly.
Apples also have the trait of being able to go well in sweet and savory recipes. The pairing of apples and pork were almost made to go together. (Just think of how many times as a kid you've had pork chops with apple sauce.) So for a recipe that's perfect for fall, here's a dish of roasted pork tenderloin with sweet apples and aromatic fennel. This recipe is quick for dinner any night and it's even elegant enough for a dinner party.
The secret to a good roast loin is getting it seared as brown as you can get it—the darker, the better it looks and tastes. So to help that along, I spread the loin with an herb butter, which serves two purposes: First, it helps brown the meat and second, it imparts wonderful flavor. Just make sure not to overcook the pork—a bit of blushing pink while cutting in is just what you're looking for.
Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Fennel
Note: Don't throw away the fennel stalks and extra fronds. Use the vegetable scraps to make stock. You save money and gain flavor at the same time.
1 large bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced, 1/4 cup fronds reserved
2 Fuji apples, sliced
6 garlic cloves
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 pound pork tenderloin
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss fennel, apples, and garlic with a good drizzling of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven.
Combine thyme and butter in a small bowl to form an herb butter.
Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high to high heat.
Liberally season pork with salt and pepper. Spread outside with herb butter.
Add a good drizzling of canola oil to the hot pan. Sear pork all over until golden brown, about 10 minutes total.
After 10 minutes, toss the fennel and apples. Push them toward the edges of the pan to make room for the loin. Add the seared pork loin to the pan and roast for 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 degrees F. Remove pork to a carving board and let rest, tented with aluminum foil. Cut pork diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices. Add apples and fennel to a serving platter. Discard garlic if desired. Top vegetables with sliced pork. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.