What's for Dinner? Pork Tenderloin w/ Apples, Fennel & Date Relish

Pork tenderloin has got to be the easiest and quickest dinner to prepare, however, it is also the easiest to ruin.

Because there is no skin or fat, it tends to dry out and get overcooked.

A sauce is a must when preparing this cut of pork, and though this looks like a major production, it was super easy.

You'd think it was a recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, with all its components, but it's not.

I made my old fashioned roast pork w/ apples, fennel and onions, and to gild the lily, I made this delicious date relish.

You can make the relish the day before, it gets better as it sits. It's so yummy, you can use it on roast chicken, a cheese platter (YES!) or roasted cauliflower, it is my new favorite.

Here's how:

Pork Tenderloin w/ Fennel, Apples & Onions:

2 lb. (usually comes in a 2 pack) pork tenderloin
kosher salt & pepper
1 large onion, sliced thick
1 large fennel bulb (also known as anise), sliced same size as onions
2 apples, sliced
a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary

Date Relish (adapted from Bon Appetit)

2/3 cup Medjool or Deglet Noor dates (about 4 oz.), cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus leaves for serving
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp of grainy French mustard
3 tbsp cider vinegar

Make the date relish: Toss dates, orange juice, (some reserved pan drippings after your pork is done if you can spare some), chopped cilantro, and olive oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper and mix in cilantro. Let sit out at room temperature. Can be made hours ahead.

To cook the pork tenderloins: Season the pork liberally w/ kosher salt & pepper.
In a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven, heat some olive oil. Sear the tenderloins about 3 minutes on each side (it takes about 3 turns, 9 minutes total), until the pork has a nice golden crust. Remove the pork to a plate, so you can cook the vegetables.

In the same skillet as you seared the pork, cook the onions and fennel about 3 minutes until starting to soften. Push the vegetables to the side, and add in the apple slices and the pork back into the skillet (don't cook the apples w/ the fennel and onions, or it will be too mushy). Tuck some fresh thyme sprigs and rosemary sprigs around the pork in the skillet.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast in a 425F oven for 17 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 140F. By letting the pork rest a few minutes before slicing, the temperature should rise another 10 degrees to 150F. You want the pork to be a bit pink and still juicy.

Remove the pork and vegetables to a platter and tent w/ foil to keep warm.

Deglaze the pan with the cider vinegar and whisk in some mustard. Spoon this yummy sauce into a small container.

Slice the pork into slices and surround the fennel and apples around the platter.

Serve w/ the date relish and some mustard sauce.


Delicious cold the next day.
Spread some date relish on the cold slices of pork and make sandwiches for lunch!



Bebe said…
Having dried out several pork tenderloins, I am delighted to find this recipe - and the note that drying out a pork tenderloin is not an unusual occurrance.

I too thought they looked like no-brainers, although removing that "skin" (silver) can be challenging. Maybe I was too zealous? Maybe it doesn't have to be removed?

Perhaps I can teach my DH to like fennel?

Sounds very good...
Stacey Snacks said…
Most recipes say to remove the silver thingy, but I have never done that!
Anonymous said…
Being a carnivore has it's challenges. Here's a case where being vague is a virtue - I don't really want to know WHAT that silver thingy is. It's a thingy - best to leave it at that.
Natalia said…
Mmmm.. this looks yummy and perfect for a fall day. I always wondered what can be done with fennel, a vegetable I once had in a fantastic salad but haven't successfully incorporated into a meal since. Can't wait to try this. I think my husband will even like it!
Bebe said…
I was trying to remember why I removed the silverskin (found that that is what it's called, or just silver):

“Silver skin” is the shiny silvery membrane sometimes left on the pork tenderloin after the fat has been removed. It is very tough and will cause the meat to curl if left on. To remove the silver skin, slip the tip of a sharp knife between the skin and the meat and lift slightly as you slice it off.

It was NOT that easy and some of it sort of worked into the tenderloin. In retrospect I could have left that as it would have had nothing to do with the tenderloin curling.

Here's where I found that quote:


You are such a good cook, Stacey - if it didn't harm your tenderloin, I'll skip removing it the next time.

Katie C. said…
I made this last night but I didn't have the dates that I thought were in the pantry - boo. Even without that, the pork was wonderful and moist. I deglazed the pan with a splash of white wine. My note to myself is: make sure that the guy cuts the veggie wedges small enough...because they were a little large. Some were still a little more al dente than I would have liked, but what can I say - help in the kitchen is always appreciated!