This recipe came into my life about 8 years ago in a very strange manner, but sometimes recipes just find you. It was not passed down from relatives, or given to me by a friend, and I didn’t find it in a cookbook or magazine. I was minding my own business in a William Sonoma store, looking at an oval copper sauté pan. It was a beautiful pan, and I found myself unexplainably drawn to it. I didn’t need it. I certainly didn’t have room for any more pots or pans, and it was very expensive. I found myself picking it up, gently stroking the copper sides, and then I would put it down and walk away, convincing myself that I didn’t need it. I did this several times, and then finally just bought the dish towels that I came in for, but went back for one last look. There was a woman there now, conducting the same sort of ceremony. She turned to me and said “isn’t this a gorgeous pan?” “Gorgeous “was the right word. I agreed with her, and told her that I was trying to convince myself I needed the pan, but really didn’t have any particular use in mind. That’s when she pulled this recipe for pork tenderloin out of her purse, and shoved it under my nose. “This is the recipe that their catalog suggests you make in this pan,” she told me. I glanced at it quickly and that was all I needed now to justify my purchase. “Thank you, ” I said, “I’m buying the pan!” She grabbed me by the coat sleeve and whispered, “don’t!” She then proceeded to tell me that she makes it in a cast iron skillet, and it comes out perfect. “Why spend $250 on a pan you don’t need?” She was correct, especially because I had a cast iron skillet and I didn’t have that recipe in my possession anyway. I suppose I looked a little disappointed as I turned to walk out of the store. She quickly came after me and handed me the recipe. “Try it in a cast iron skillet,” she said. “Your family will love it.”
She was right. I went directly to the food store, bought all the ingredients needed and made this dish for dinner that very night…..in my cast iron skillet. It was a big hit, and I’ve been making it ever since….in my cast iron skillet. I still glance longingly at that pan every time I browse through William Sonoma, and still can’t help but wonder if that woman, all those years ago, bought the pan once I had left the store.
RECIPE: serves 6
2 pork tenderloins, 12 ounces, trimmed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP unsalted butter
3 fennel bulbs, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1 shallot sliced
8 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP chopped fresh sage leaves (not totally necessary)
3/4 cup unsalted chicken broth
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Season pork with salt and pepper
3. In an ovenproof fry pan, over medium heat, warm oil and melt butter. When hot, brown pork 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.
4. Add fennel and shallot to pan, and sauté, stirring until tender and golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
5. Add 3 TBSP vinegar and cook, stirring until liquid is nearly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in half the sage.
6. Arrange pork over fennel, sprinkle with remaining sage and transfer to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of meat registers 150 degrees F, about 15 to 20 minutes, or done to your liking.
7. Transfer pork to cutting board and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Transfer fennel to warm platter.
8. Set pan over medium high heat and add the broth and the rest of the vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, 4 to 6 minutes.
9. Slice pork into 1/2 inch thick medallions. Arrange pork over fennel; drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.