Pork tenderloin is a great cut of meat to cook with—it's simple to prepare, inexpensive, and easily sliced into pleasing medallions for serving. It behaves very well and predictably, being a long cylinder of meat with little fat and tendon. The only problem is, just like that other conveniently-shaped protein that makes its way into so many dishes—the boneless, skinless, chicken breast—the pork tenderloin can often lack flavor. Buying one from a nice well-loved heritage pig rather than a commercial hog does add something, but it's never going to have the porkiness of a bone-in chop, much less a belly or shoulder.
Thankfully, the dressing from this Gourmet recipe packs a serious, unexpected punch. Building on the basic red wine vinegar with garlic and olive oil, it's fortified with the caramelized pan drippings of the roasted tenderloin and thickened with warm toasted walnuts. Arugula and sliced endive are the refreshing bitter counterpoint against the warm pork.
About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons water
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- 3 medium Belgian endives, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Dry pork well with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cut in half crosswise into two pieces that are short enough to fit together in an oven-roof skillet (10 or 12 inches).
Heat the vegetable oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown pork well on all sides, about 6 minutes.Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the internal temperature registers 145°F, 15-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts over medium heat in a non-stick skillet until lightly brown and fragrant. In a small food processor, pulse the 3/4 of the walnuts with the garlic, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Remove the pork from the oven and transfer the meat to a plate to rest. Add the vinegar to the skillet and boil, scraping up brown bits, for about 30 seconds. Pour into a heatproof measuring cup, adding the olive oil so that the mixture makes 3/4 cup liquid. Slowly add the mixture to the food processor with the motor running to make the vinaigrette.
Toss the arugula and endive with dressing to coat, top with the pork and additional dressing, then crumble remaining walnuts on top.