Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
When it comes to choosing a wine for a dish, pork tenderloin—a totally doable-on-a-weeknight type of cut—doesn’t give you much direction. It’s one of those agreeable leads, waiting for some direction from the supporting cast. Want something white? Add caramelized onions and cabbage and pick up an Alsatian or German Riesling. A light red? Think earthy mushrooms. A bold and spicy red? Make a sauce out of dried chili peppers.
For this week’s recipe, I initially wanted to make something with pork tenderloin and olives, a combination common in Spain or Portugal. But when I found this rosé from Tavel in my local wine store for $17, the geography of the recipe shifted in my head to Southern France, where olive-studded pissaladiéres and tapenades go hand in hand with fruity and bold rosés.
In the first trial, I stuffed a pork tenderloin with a mix of caramelized onions, niçoise olives, minced garlic and fresh oregano. The combination worked well: Seasoned with just salt, the plain pork seemed to create watermelon bubblegum notes in the wine, but when anchored by the stuffing, a more attractive berry flavor emerged in the glass.
Still, I wondered if I couldn’t make the match tighter. I zeroed in on the “cassis” descriptor in the tasting note. I’m not much for using fruits in savory cooking (too many bad memories of mango salsa and raspberry coulis from the '90s), but I thought the addition of black currants or a berry jam glaze might help fine-tune the dish to the wine.
In the second trial, I brushed the top of the stuffed pork tenderloin with a raspberry jam just before putting the seared meat in the oven. The result wasn’t so much of a strikeout as a whiff. The jam glaze did help to refine the berry flavors in the rosé, but I couldn’t really abide the super-sweet composition of the dish as a whole.
In trial #3, I found a good balance by adding minced currants to the olive stuffing mixture and reserving just enough of the combination for a light garnish over the cooked and sliced meat. The dish itself was nicely balanced between salty and sweet, and the pairing brought out a savory depth in the rosé I hadn’t noticed before.
Some notes on the preparation: I find that two tenderloins of around a pound each make a hearty meal for four, with some leftovers to spare. If you aren’t up to stuffing the tenderloin, you can use the olive mixture as a garnish and cook the meat with a seasoning of salt alone.
Pair with a Rhône rosé such as Les Vignerons de Tavel Tavel Le Chant du Soleil 2011 (90 points, $19)
Total time: 45 minutes
Approximate food cost: $35
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium-sized sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion, season with salt, turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook until the onions have browned and softened, around 10 minutes.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the minced olives, currants, garlic, oregano and browned onions.
3. Using a sharp knife, make a lengthwise cut halfway through the tenderloins. Season the cavity with salt, then stuff with the olive mixture (you should use just over half of the mixture). Using cooking string, tie the tenderloins to form a roast and seal the cavity. Season the outside of the roasts with salt.
4. In a large, oven-safe sauté pan, heat two tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Sear the tenderloin on the top and two sides first. Then, using tongs, position them with the cut side down and put into the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, or until a thermometer stuck into the middle of the tenderloin reads 145° F. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing and garnish with the remainder of the olive mixture. Serves 4.