Okay. I'm ready to jump headfirst into fall foods. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. No other season inspires me as much to get in the kitchen and create things. This is actually one of my favorite savory meals to celebrate the season. I can't get enough of the cider reduction--it smells like everything that makes autumn special. It's sweet, spicy, aromatic and complex. I've made it three times and I'm thrilled to share the recipe with you.
And as often as I've made it, you would think I could get the reducing part right. It really should have a little more body to it than this, but the flavor is still incredible. I love that this is a relatively light autumn recipe, too. It bridges the gap between end-of-summer cook-outs and hibernation fare. Plenty of time for those baked pastas and hearty braises in the months to come. This recipe lets us use our grill one last time and it lets the light jus accompany the pork instead of a heavy, fruity compote.
Here we have the key players in the jus; bay leaves, cinnamon, allspice, thyme and star anise. Just a handful of spices and aromatics make all the difference in the world. All you do is toss these into simmering cider, along with some chicken broth, some cider vinegar and some chopped onion. Everything gets strained out at the end and some butter is swirled in. So easy. So delicious!
The other star of this meal was the cauliflower puree. I didn't even follow an exact recipe for this. I knew I wanted a side (and not the rutabaga the original recipe called for; just as well--the store didn't have any anyway). I love roasted cauliflower and I've made a cauliflower puree before that was delicious....I wondered what would happen if I combined those two elements. And instead of just melting the butter in the cream...why not brown the butter first? It worked very well indeed.
In addition to browning the butter, I also threw in a halved clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. Everything gets blended in the food processor and out comes pillowy roasted cauliflower puree. I think I just created a recipe. Another first for me, the one who follows the letter of the recipe down to measuring the salt and pepper.
The end result was a buttery, nutty, creamy addition to the meal and I loved every bite. I hope you enjoy the meal as much as we did and I look forward to sharing more fall discoveries with you soon. It might be time to break into my pumpkin stash...
Pork Tenderloin with Cider Jus
2 c. apple cider
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 c. chopped onion
6 whole allspice
3 whole star anise
3 large thyme sprigs
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 Turkish bay leaf
5 T. unsalted butter, in 1/2" cubes
2 12 oz. pork tenderloins, well trimmed
Mix first 9 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1 1/2 c., about 20 minutes. Strain, pressing on solids to extract liquid. Discard solids. Return liquid to saucepan and boil until reduced to 1/2 c., about 3 minutes. Whisk in butter a few pieces at a time. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, prepare barbecue to medium-high heat. Brush pork with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Grill until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145 degrees, turning frequently, about 20 minutes. Let pork rest 5 minutes (temperature will rise to 150 degrees). Thinly slice pork crosswise.
Divide pork slices among 6 plates. Drizzle sauce over pork and serve.
Roasted Cauliflower Puree with Browned Butter
1 head cauliflower, in small florets
1 c. cream
1 sprig rosemary
1 clove garlic, halved
6 T. butter
salt to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. In a bowl, combine cauliflower, enough olive oil to coat lightly and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Spread in even layer on prepared sheet and roast about 25 minutes, until browned in spots and tender. Let cool. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt butter over med-low heat until browned and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Watch butter closely and stir occasionally. Move to bowl and let cool slightly. In another small saucepan, bring cream to simmer. Add rosemary and garlic and simmer over medium heat 10 minutes. Discard solids. Place cauliflower, butter and cream in food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Reheat in microwaveable bowl until warm.