Pork tenderloin, acorn squash, and poached pears

A few weeks ago I was hankering to get out our China and have a fancy dinner. It seemed appropriate to do this a few weeks after we got back from our California vacation. Patrick had been working really hard since then to get caught up with his work tasks and for some reason there was a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge. This provided us with just the relaxing night we needed!
I planned the meal backwards - dessert first and then molding the dinner around CSA produce. Poached pears had caught my eye recently and I thought they would be fun to try for the dessert! The recipe I found served them with a mascarpone cream. The entree featured a succulent pork tenderloin with a melt in your mouth sauce, roasted acorn squash wedges, and an arugula side salad. This was worth the effort! Everything was wonderful... except I don't think Patrick was too excited about the idea of just pears as the dessert.

   Serves 4 (we cut in half)
3 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Two 12-ounce pork tenderloins, tied with twine
1/2 C breadcrumbs
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
4 large (or 8 medium) shallots, ends trimmed, peeled, and quartered
1 small fennel bulb, greens trimmed, cut into thin slices
1 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock
12 dried apricots
1/4 cup cognac (we substituted brandy)
1 tsp fresh thyme, plus more for garnish

   Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine mustards. Salt and pepper the pork; rub with mustards; sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Pat coating. Set aside.
   Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Sear pork, turning, until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan; set aside. Add remaining oil and butter to pan. Add shallots and fennel. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock; cook until liquid evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes.
   Return pork to pan; add apricots, 1/2 cup stock, and cognac. Roast in oven, stirring vegetables, until pork registers 160 degrees, about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board; place pan over medium-low heat. Add remaining stock and thyme; stir, loosening brown bits from bottom. Simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; slice pork. Serve with vegetables and sauce. Garnish with thyme.

   Serves 4 (we cut in half)
2 acorn squash
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

   Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half through the stem end, and remove seeds. Cut each half into three wedges, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. Place wedges in a large roasting pan.
   In a small bowl, combine melted butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Toss squash with honey mixture. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until tender and golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes.
   Serves 4 (we cut in half)
2 firm but ripe large Bosc pears, peeled, halved, cored
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 C water
1/2 C dry white wine
6 tbsp honey
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 C mascarpone cheese
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp brandy or dark rum

   Toss pears with lemon juice in large bowl. Set aside. Combine 1 cup water, wine and honey in medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Stir over medium heat until honey dissolves. Add pears. Cover mixture with round piece of parchment paper. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pears are just tender when pierced, turning when half-way through cooking, about 15 minutes.
   Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to large bowl. Boil poaching liquid until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Cool syrup. Pour syrup over pears. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 8 hours or overnight. Remove vanilla bean.
   Whisk mascarpone cheese, sugar and brandy in large bowl until smooth. Add 1/4 cup chilled poaching syrup and whisk until soft peaks form.
   Thinly slice each pear half lengthwise, leaving slices attached at stem end. Using metal spatula, transfer pears to plates. Gently press on pears to fan slightly. Spoon some syrup over pears. Spoon mascarpone cream alongside each pear half and serve.

1 comment:

  1. You need your own cooking show - like Vivian Howard!