Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce

Pistachios and prunes make up the filling and the sauce for this simple pork tenderloin roll.
Pistachios and prunes make up the filling and the sauce for this simple pork tenderloin roll.

This is one of those dishes that looks like you slaved over yet is really as simple as it gets.

“Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce” may have only seven ingredients, but it delivers on flavor and presence so much that it’s definitely worthy of being served to company.

This recipe is from the new “Tuscan Women Cook: Nonnas. Memories. Recipes.” (self-published), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Coleen Kirnan with Rhonda Vilardo, who run the aforementioned Tuscan Women Cook, a culinary immersion program in Italy, in which students learn authentic, time-honored dishes during hands-on, week-long classes.

The recipes in the book are inspired by the family recipes and culture of the Val d’Orsia region of Tuscany, just south of Siena.

Recipes such as “Zuppa di Stracci” (“Stracciatella Soup”), “Ravioli di Ricotta ed Erbe Aromatiche” (“Ravioli with Ricotta and Herbs”), and “Melanzane alla Parmigiana” (a lighter version of “Eggplant Parmesan” that forgoes breading and frying) are sure to appeal to any Italian food lover.

“Filetto di Maiale con Prugne e Pistachio” or “Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce” makes use of a mix of pistachios and prunes (yes, dried plums) in two ways.

First, a pork tenderloin is cut and opened up, then stuffed with some of that mixture, before being rolled up around that filling and tied with twine. Second, the rest of the pistachios and prunes are simmered with a little wine and water, then the mixture blitzed in a food processor to create a smooth, thick, slightly chunky sauce to garnish the cooked pork.

Stuffing the pork tenderloin.
Stuffing the pork tenderloin.
Rolled and tied for cooking.
Rolled and tied for cooking.

The pork loin is simmered in a covered pan with a little wine and water. The recipe didn’t specify how much water, so I added about 1/3 cup. The recipe instructed to simmer the pork on low heat for 15 minutes. As I stared at the sizeable 1 1/2-pound log of pork loin, I knew there was no way it was going to cook in only 15 minutes. Sure enough, it took closer to 30 minutes for the pork to reach the requisite 145-degree internal temperature measured on an instant-read thermometer. So, I changed the time in the recipe below.

As the pork loin neared being done, it looked rather unappetizingly pale gray in color. So once the liquid had all but evaporated, I added a smidge more oil to the pan and turned up the heat to sear the exterior of the loin, turning it over so that all sides took on a more attractive golden brown.

After resting, the loin was sliced to reveal its surprise filling.

After those minor tweaks to the recipe, what I was left with was very juicy, very tender pork married with the nuttiness of pistachios and the sweet, sticky, molasses-like taste of prunes that eats fancy.

Delicious and impressive looking yet so easy to make.
Delicious and impressive looking yet so easy to make.

Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce

(Serves 4)

10 large dried prunes, pitted

1 3/4 ounces pistachios, shelled (about 1/3 cup)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

One pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1/2 cup dry white wine or Vin Santo, divided use

1/2 cup water (for sauce)

1/3 cup water (for pan)

Chop half of the prunes and pistachios. Combine them with the salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix well. Cut the pork in half lengthwise, without cutting completely through. Fill the incision with the prune and pistachio mixture. Close up the pork. Tie in 4 or 5 places with butcher’s twine to secure it during cooking.

Combine the remaining prunes and pistachios with 1/4 cup of the wine and 1/2 cup water and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend. Return mixture to the pot and simmer until reduced to a creamy consistency.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining 1/4 cup of wine, and 1/3 cup water to a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pork to the pan, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until internal temperature is close to 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Uncover, and allow to cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and turn up the heat to medium-high. Sear the pork on all sides.

Remove pork to a serving plate, tent with foil, and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Slice and serve with the prune and pistachio mixture.

Adapted from “Tuscan Women Cook” by Coleen Kirnan with Rhonda Vilardo

Another Recipe to Showcase Prunes: Red Wine-Braised Duck Legs with Dried Plums

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