One of my favorite meats to have readily available in the fridge or freezer would be pork tenderloin. Indeed, this particular cut of meat is so tender and tasty on its own, you don’t need to do much at all to it to turn it into a delicious meal! A little bit of salt and pepper, a sprinkle of fresh herbs and it’s basically good to go.
Plus, it cooks in minutes, too, making it all the more enjoyable!
With Christmas being just around the corner, though, I was in a bit of a Festive mood this week and suddenly got inspired to make these super quick and easy Cranberry Maple Pork Medallions. While it definitely is a dish that’s well suited for the Holiday Season, it doesn’t taste so “Christmas-ey” that you’d only want to eat it this time of year. In fact, I’d say it’s more of a delicious sweet and savory experience, where the sweetness gets toned down a bit thanks to the hint of tartness that the fresh cranberries contribute to the overall experience.
Even my son, who doesn’t usually care for sweet and savory dishes, or for cooked fruit for that matter, was all over this dish.
The main advantage of making the dish this time of year is the fact that cranberries are widely available and can be found practically everywhere you go. Heck I wouldn’t even be surprised if the convenience store at the gas station carried them…
Of course, I’d already stocked up on the bright ruby fruits myself, with the intent of making my obligatory cranberry sauce for Christmas, you know, and that’s probably what triggered the inspiration… I had to steal from that stash, but I’m sure that the measly little cup that I stole won’t even be missed at all when I go make that sauce.
I’m telling you, if you’re looking for a quick meal to serve to your fam, or even to special guests, and are hoping to keep things festive and Holiday-esque, (or is that Holiday-ish?) you can’t go wrong with this dish.
Serve it with a side of steamed rice and sauteed green vegetables, and you’ll be looking at Christmas on a plate!
The first thing you’ll need to do is slice your pork tenderloin (or tenderloins… you could use more than one if you needed to) into 8 equal sized medallions and then sprinkle each piece of meat generously with salt and pepper. If you would like a visual aid for that, see this post right here.
Next, heat about a tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. Cast iron really is your best friend here, so if you happen to have one of those cast iron skillets, now would be a perfect time to take it out!
When the pan is hot enough, add the pork medallions and cook them for 4 minutes per side, without moving them, until they develop a nice golden crust on each side.
The main key to success with this dish resides in searing the meat nice and good on both sides before you add the sauce to it.
To get that beautiful golden crust, it’s imperative that air be able to circulate around your pieces of meat. If you find that your pan is too small for that, don’t be afraid to work in batches.
If you over-crowded your pan, the meat would most likely end up boiling as opposed to browning and developing that beautiful brown crusty, tasty exterior we desire.
Regardless of whether you cooked all your medallions at once or got the job done in batches, once they’re nicely seared, remove the pieces of meat to a plate to collect all the yummy juices.
Add the chicken broth, maple syrup, cranberries (you can use fresh or frozen here, doesn’t matter) and fresh thyme to the pan; bring that to a simmer and continue cooking until the cranberries start to pop, about 1 minute.
Return the medallions to the pan, along with their cooking juices; continue cooking for about 2 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the meat is cooked all the way through. It should still be slightly pink in the center.
Kill the heat and allow the meat to sit in the sauce for another 5 minutes then serve.
Does that look beautiful or what? So festive, too!
And pssssst… if you’re feeling particularly indulgent (it IS Christmas after all) add a little bit of heavy cream to the sauce at the very end of the cooking process. Just a few tablespoons. It’ll make your sauce so much creamier and silkier, too. And talk about YUMMY!
I promise I won’t look, or tell anyone!
- Slice the pork tenderloin into 8 equal sized medallions and sprinkle generously with the salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) set over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot enough, add the pork medallions and cook them for 4 minutes per side, without moving them, until they develop a nice golden crust on each side. Make sure to leave plenty of room between each medallion, else they'll end up boiling as opposed to browning. Work in batches if you have to. Remove the seared medallions to a plate to collect the juices.
- Add the chicken broth, maple syrup, cranberries and thyme to the pan; bring to the boil and continue cooking until the cranberries start to pop, about 1 minute.
- Add the medallions, along with their cooking juices, back into the pan and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened and the meat is cooked all the way through.
- Kill the heat and allow the meat to sit in the sauce for another 5 minutes then serve.