Rather than gleefully imagine the WORST wine pairing in the world (after much drunken discussion, Muscat and spaghetti with red sauce took the prize), honestly, I can’t think of a wine that wouldn’t work with this dish.
Leave it to the magical animal that is the pig to have borne such a blessed thing unto the world. The pork tenderloin is quite simply the Swiss Army knife of wine pairing: I dare you to find a wine which will not work with it. The humble pork tenderloin is always there for you. It’s easy to cook and affordable, rendering it an even better friend.
Finding good, fresh pork tenderloin can be a challenge, however. As one might expect, Trader Joe’s is hit or miss, and I suspect this may have to do with their cold chain (often their expiration dates seem the stuff of fantasy, and a sour greenish odor awaits you upon opening the CryoVac well before the best by date). Any other number of stores’ CryoVac’d tenderloins similarly seem to sit for too long. Out here in NYC, Citarella seems to be a worthwhile step up.
Here’s the base recipe along with two different embellishments which allow you to “determine” the dish aromatically, adding layers that will act as bridge elements to a red or white. In a nutshell, it’s pork tenderloin with grain mustard and panko crust = red, or, pork tenderloin with marmalade, ginger, honey sauce = white. Honestly, though, if you’re in a rush, you could just brown and then roast the tenderloin, skip the embellishments, and you’d still be just fine. But it wouldn’t be as magical — 80% less oohs and ahs at the dinner table.
If you’d rather just print a one-page handy PDF of these recipes, click here:
Here’s the recipe inline, with a couple photos below.
Gargantua’s Roast Pork Tenderloin (with Honey-Mustard Sauce, or with Mustard Panko)
Prep Time: 15 min if white, 5 min if red Total cook: 20-30 min Yield: 4 servings
Tools: long tongs, large skillet, baking sheet, wire rack (optional), aluminum foil, instant-read thermometer, scraper spatula (red)
- 1 big ol’ 1 1/2-pound pork tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
RED WINE PAIRING:
- Panko (Japanese dried bread crumbs)
- 4 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
WHITE WINE PAIRING:
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
- 1 1/3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
- 2 tablespoon marmalade (optional)
- hint of nutmeg (optional)
Heat oven to 425°F. Place wire metal rack in roasting pan, lightly coat with cooking spray, and place in oven. Remove excess fat or silverskin from tenderloins, season with salt and pepper. Brown tenderloin: heat vegetable oil in a large enough skillet over medium-high heat. Sear meat 5-10 minutes, turning, until golden brown on all sides.
RED WINE? MAKE A MUSTARD CRUST. Pour some panko onto a plate. Set the slightly cooled tenderloin on top. Using plastic kitchen gloves if you have them, rub the tenderloin on all sides with grain mustard, using the mustard as an adhesive to then apply the panko. Next:
BOTH RECIPES: Remove tenderloin and place on rack in roasting pan. Roast 15–20 minutes to 165°F internal temp for well done or 155° for slightly pink. I often undercook to 140° because I fear overcooking, then wrap the meat in foil for 5 minutes straight out of the oven for juices to reabsorb and slightly further cooking.
WHITE WINE? MAKE A SAUCE. Meanwhile, in pan used to brown tenderloin, add garlic and shallots, cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, scrape up browned bits from pan. Sauté until tomato paste has slightly browned. Add mustard, honey, vinegar, thyme, salt, pepper, and broth. Bring to boil, then add ginger, marmalade, nutmeg, and simmer until mixture reduces to a sauce consistency, about 10 minutes. Keep warm.
You’ll note how both recipes leverage mustard. Mustard and pork are meant for each other. Here’s what the panko crusted tenderloin looks like after sitting in foil for around 5-8 min:
Here’s a closeup the finished product, properly sliced into thin “medallions”, served with a mix of reconstituted porcini and fresh cremini mushrooms, and let’s never underestimate my favorite spice of all: thyme …
And if you can think of a wine these recipes wouldn’t work with, let me know in the comments; similarly, if you can concoct a worse wine and food pairing than Muscat and spaghetti with red sauce — hint: toy with Zinfandel, Gewurztraminer, Amarone, and TBAs — I’d just love to hear about it in the comments as well.