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Congress Gives Pork a Bad Rap

September 29, 2009

Sage and Rosemary Crusted Roast Pork Tenderloin with Pear Ginger Compote

Sage and Rosemary Crusted Roast Pork Tenderloin with Pear Ginger Compote and Slow Baked Tomatoes

Sage and Rosemary Crusted Roast Pork Tenderloin with Pear Ginger Compote and Slow Baked Tomatoes

If you listen, read or watch the news all you’ll hear about pork is the wheeling and dealing that goes on in Washington to get legislation passed. For me The Food Chanel, cookbooks and cooking magazines are preferable. Here you’ll find the real thing – pork as a flavorful protein.

Pork has frequently been a controversial food. Various religions forbid the consumption of pork products and there was a time when pork carried dangerous parasites and required thorough cooking. Most controversy today centers around the pork fat. Most will agree that pork fat delivers a wallop of flavor, especially if the pork is smoked. There’s a reason so many dishes call for some bacon or salt pork; a pot of beans gently simmered along with a smoked ham hock is undeniably delicious and who among us hasn’t awakened to the aroma of frying bacon?

Like butter, the line is drawn on the use of pork fat such as lard. Proponents say that moderate use is fine with a sensible diet combined with exercise. They also advise locating a good source or rendering your own since most commercial products are partially hydrogenated. I actually did render my own lard last year. I asked my butcher to locate a reputable source from an organic farm and set to it.  It was only about a month later that I was undergoing an angiogram and my cardiologist implanted two stents in my heart.  Nothing like staring in the face of mortality to help you re-evaluate your choices in life. If rendering lard interests you, you can read about it from The Nourishing Gourmet.

The high quality pork available to us today is much leaner and better fed than that our grandparents could buy. Among the leanest is the tenderloin cut and it’s so versatile too. It can be cut into medallions, stuffed or merely marinated with a rub and grilled or roasted. For this post I have chosen the latter.

Sage and Rosemary Crusted Roast Pork Tenderloin with Pear Ginger Compote

Sage and Rosemary Rub – Adapted from a David Lebovitz Recipe

  1. You will need about 2-3 parts sage leave to 1 part rosemary leaves
  2. 8 cloves of garlic
  3. 1 heaping tablespoon of sea or kosher salt
  • Remove the sage leaves from the stems and likewise the rosemary. Place on a cutting board with the garlic and chop until very fine. Mix in the salt.
  • David recommends spreading it out on parchment paper to dry for several days away from any drafts that could blow it away. I dried mine in a warm oven overnight. You could also use a food dehydrator if you have one.

This rub is also great added to some nice olive oil for dipping. Be generous with your herbs and make enough to last through the winter. It keeps well if thoroughly dry and stored in an airtight container.

For the pork:

  • Most tenderloins come packaged in pairs. Shop carefully as some meats from mass producers are “enhanced” as in salt, water and other ingredients are added to create a “brined” quality. If this is so, do not brine your tenderloin.  If you have a natural product then brining is good. Here is a good guide for brining various meats from Cooks Illustrated.
  • My tenderloin did come as a pair and I chose to roast them together as one. I washed and dried both then coated them with a liberal amount of olive oil. I then spread some of the rub in the center and placed them together and tied.
  • Using some cotton kitchen twine, tie the two halves together at 1 1/2 inch intervals. Then coat the outside of the two halves with more of the rub.  Place in a container large enough to hold it and let the tenderloin marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 350º F and place one of the shelves in the middle of the oven. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in an oven proof skillet large enough to accommodate the tenderloin over a medium hot flame and brown the tenderloin on all sides. Place in the oven and roast until the center of the meat reaches about
    155º F. Remove and place on a warm platter and tent with some aluminum foil for about 10-15 minutes.

Pear and Ginger Compote

Adapted from:

You can prepare this the day before you begin preparing the tenderloin.

  1. 1 1/2 pounds (720 g) Comice pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  2. 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  3. 1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
  4. 1/4 cup (5 g) sugar (in lieu of the sugar, I used about the same amount of finely chopped crystallized ginger and a generous pinch of sugar.)
  5. 1/2 tablespoon (7.5 ml) grated fresh ginger
  6. 1 tablespoon (12 g) butter
  • Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring frequently. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until pears are tender.
  • Using a potato masher or fork, partially mash pears. Continue cooking the compote at a gentle boil while stirring constantly until most of liquid is evaporated.
  • Remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Slow Baked Tomatoes

Adapted from a recipe in Mediterranean Light by Martha Rose Shulman

This is a ridiculously simple dish to make. I first read about this in the Mediterranean Light Cookbook where Martha attributed her source as Lulu Peyraud at Domaine Tempier in Bandol, France. Lulu’s secret is baking for a very long time at a very low temperature.  Martha suggests a baking temperature of 325º F. I like to bake mine lower at 300º F for as long as it takes for them to relax and are almost caramelized.

  1. 4 – 6 ripe tomatoes, halved horizontally
  2. 4 – tablespoons olive oil
  3. salt and fresh ground pepper
  4. garlic to taste finely minced or put through a press (2 – 3 cloves)
  5. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil.
  • Place the tomatoes on a lightly oiled oven pan and drizzle with the olive oil. (I find it easy to spray them with oil mister)
  • Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper and place in the preheated oven for about 2 – 3 hours or until the tomatoes begin to collapse.
  • Add the garlic in the last hour or so. You can hold the garlic submersed in olive oil while the tomatoes cook and spoon on spreading evenly.
  • Add the fresh basil just before serving.

This recipe is very helpful for coaxing whatever flavor lurks in out of season tomatoes. I love to bake cherry or grape tomatoes this way too to add to salads, pizza or skewer on picks with small balls of mozzarella and brush with basil olive oil.

We enjoyed this meal accompanied by a 2006 Vintage Pinot Noir from Trinity Vineyards.

Intense aromas of black cherries are prominent on the nose with hints of mocha and vanilla. A full and rich mouth feel with ample amounts of fruit are complemented with dark Chocolate and a slight fennel spice on the mid-palate providing a juicy yet layered and interesting pinot that is both structured and supple at the same time.

Oregon State Fair Wine Competition
Bronze – 2009

Bon Appetit!

Charles Price

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenny permalink
    October 5, 2009 7:23 am

    Oh, darlings, this blog of yours is sooooooooooooooooooo lovely! I have been forwarding it to all and sundry. You know I’m not a cook, but I cannot resist your delicious blog articles. While it’s unlikely that I’ll ever prepare a thing you talk about, I get such pleasure from reading your posts.

    If, after reading your blog, Martha Shulman doesn’t give you a ticket to attend her classes, I’ll eat my hat.

    Much love,

  2. Shop Boy permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:13 am

    Re: blogroll tit for tat

    And so it is done.

    Much love back at you both.

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