Pork Medallions with Red Wine Juniper Sauce
If you like gin, you will love juniper. Its crisp, piney, peppery taste has a hint of citrus and this bold red-wine juniper sauce smothered over simple juicy cumin-spiced pork is an impressive dish.
Pork tenderloin is amazingly versatile and super easy to cook, yet I find is often overlooked. This inexpensive prime cut is tender, lean, mildly flavoured, requires no marinating and can be cooked in 10 minutes. You could call it the “poor man’s filet mignon,” but that would discount its tremendous flavour. Tenderloins vary in size and are sometimes sold two in a package. One 1 1/2lb (700 g) tenderloin is enough to feed a family of four but, by all means, double this recipe, because the leftovers are amazing.
MAKES: 4 servings
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 15 minutes
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED: large ovenproof sauté pan, digital thermometer
1.5 lb (700 g) pork tenderloin
Salt & Pepper to taste
1–2 tsp (10 mL) ground cumin (or to taste)
1–2 Tbsp (30 mL) neutral flavoured oil
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 Tbsp (45 mL) butter divided
1/2 cup (125 mL) red wine
10 juniper berries, lightly crushed
1 cup (250 mL) beef or chicken stock
1. Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C).
2. Cut tenderloin into medallions (or small steaks) on the diagonal, about 1. inches (4 cm) thick. You should get at least 4 medallions and 2 smaller end pieces. Season with salt, lots of pepper and ground cumin.
3. Heat an ovenproof pan over high heat. Once hot, add the oil and sear the medallions, about 3 minutes per side. Once turned over, add thyme sprigs, garlic, and 1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter. Transfer to the oven for 6–10 minutes or until an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C) is reached. Smaller end pieces will cook more quickly, so remove ahead of time.
4. Remove pan from the oven, transfer pork onto a plate and let rest while making the pan sauce.
5. In the same pan over medium heat, add the wine, juniper berries, and stock. Liquids will immediately start bubbling and reduce. Add in 2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter to finish the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over the medallions and serve.
Pork tenderloin, being so lean, is easily overcooked.
This, again, is where I stress the value of a digital thermometer,
which makes it so easy to cook meat properly.
Take the pork out of the oven once it registers 140°F
(60°C) in the middle of the thickest part and let it rest
for 5 minutes. The result will be juicy pork with the
slightest blush of pink.
COOL FACT: JUNIPER BERRIES AREN’T REALLY BERRIES
Juniper berries are used to make gin, so we know they
must be good for us. The berry, which is actually a seed
cone of the juniper tree, is typically sold whole in the spice
section of your grocery store. They look like big dark purple
peppercorns and are easily crushed, which should be
done just before using them. This helps to release the berry’s