I always forget about pork tenderloin. Do you? It's such an easy protein, so nicely shaped and ready to be seared, sliced, or roasted to whatever whims you might have for dinner. It's lean and healthy, too. Sure, it's not as sexy as a bone-in pork chop or a braised shoulder—nor as flavorful as either of those cuts—but with a little attention the tenderloin can end up as an elegant dinner.
Nothing Jacques Pepin does is ever really inelegant, but after catching this recipe on an episode of Fast Food My Way, I jotted down the ingredients and set off to make it that night. The stuffing of winter greens is ideal this time of year, while the cherry tomatoes are a burst of summer as January drags on. Stuffing a tenderloin sounds more difficult than it actually is; butterflying it is the hardest part. I pulled it off in 10 minutes or so, and still had dinner under the table in an hour. If you need help, watch this video where Pepin's reassuring French accent will guide you. A quick pan sauce with the drippings in the roasting pan was the final flourish to bring it all together.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 pound baby spinach or other cooking green such as Swiss chard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed of fat or silverskin and butterflied
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 box grape tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pints)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook briefly until beginning to soften, about 1 minute, then add spinach or other greens along with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and cook until wilted, 2-10 minutes depending on ingredient, adding water if necessary to keep moist. Remove lid and cook further, if necessary, until all moisture is evaporated.
Arrange half spinach mixture down center of pork tenderloin, top with cheese, and finish again with spinach. Fold in sides and roll tenderloin carefully to distribute filling evenly. Using butcher's twine or 2 1-inch strips of aluminum foil, wrap tenderloin at both ends to secure filling.
Heat remaining oil in ovenproof skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Season pork with remaining salt and pepper and brown pork on all sides, turning carefully, about 5 minutes. If using foil, remove, then transfer to oven and bake 10 minutes, until pork is cooked but slightly pink in center. Remove and transfer pork to plate to rest.
Add tomatoes to skillet along with a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of water and saute over high heat until just softened, 2-3 minutes, and pan drippings are reconstituted. Slice tenderloin and arrange tomatoes around it. Serve immediately.