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Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Cranberries

Serves: Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 (12 – to 16- ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1-½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Procedures:

Cooking lean, thin pork tenderloins in a pressure cooker is tricky since they can overcook so quickly. After several tests, we found that even one minute of pressurized cooking followed by a 15-minute natural release turned out tenderloins that were overcooked.

Switching to quick release gave us slightly better control over the meat’s doneness, but the dramatic change in pressure at the time of the release caused the meat to turn tough. In the end, we discovered perfectly cooked, juicy pork tenderloins required removing the pot from the heat as soon as high pressure was reached, then allowing the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes.

Pork and fruit are a natural, classic combination so we included a mix of apples and cranberries in the pot. Seasoning the pork with some herbes de Provence ensured there was a savory flavor to balance the sweetness of the fruit. We cut the apples into quarters to allow them to cook to the proper doneness in the same time as the pork, and it also kept the prep easy. Apple cider, brown sugar and a tablespoon of butter to finish, created the perfect accompanying sauce.


  • Total Time: About 45 minutes, less than 1 minute under pressure
  • Pressure Level: High
  • Release: Natural


Build flavor: Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in pressure-cooker pot over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown tenderloins on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to plate.

Add flour and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty pot and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Whisk in apple cider, smoothing out any lumps. Stir in apples, cranberries and sugar. Using wooden spoon, scrape up all browned bits stuck on bottom of pot. Nestle tenderloins with any accumulated juices into pot.

High pressure then naturally release pressure: Lock pressure cooker lid in place and bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. As soon pot reaches high pressure, remove pot from heat and allow pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure, then carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.

Before serving: Transfer tenderloins to carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while finishing sauce. This will help redistribute the meat’s juices. Next, bring apple mixture to gentle simmer, stir in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice pork and serve with apple mixture.

Troubleshooting:

How do I know the tenderloin is cooked through?: We’ve never encountered underdone pork when preparing this recipe, but the center of the tenderloin should register 140 to 145°F before resting. If it is underdone, simmer it gently in the sauce over medium-low heat until it registers 140 to 145 degrees, adding water if the sauce becomes too thick.

Can I use other types of apples?: Yes, but the flavor of the sauce and the texture of the cooked apples will vary depending on the apples you choose. Apples that turn very soft when cooked, such as Red Delicious and McIntosh, may turn into applesauce.

Do I need to alter the recipe for a 6-quart electric pressure cooker? Yes, bring the pot to low pressure (not high), then immediately turn the cooker off and let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes; do not let the cooker switch to the warm setting. Use the browning (not the simmer) setting to simmer the apple mixture.

Tips: The only prep the tenderloin requires before cooking is to remove the sinewy silverskin, which turns unpleasantly chewy once cooked. To remove it, slip a boning knife underneath the silverskin, angle the blade slightly upward, and use gentle back-and-forth motion to remove it from the tenderloin.

Since this cut of meat is so small and lean, it doesn’t cook for even a minute but we still add a full cup of liquid to the pot for cooking. The apple cider ensures the meat stays juicy and is infused with flavor. It also forms the foundation for the sauce.

Recipe developed for Fagor, by America’s TEST KITCHEN

 
 
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