This cranberry balsamic pork tenderloin is a favourite dish and one I have been making for years! It is one of those perfect trifecta recipes – quick, easy and delicious. It’s solid and reliable. It’s quick and easy enough for weeknights and special enough for company. And for those conscious of these things, it’s also low in fat and calories.
This cranberry balsamic pork tenderloin recipe ticks all the right boxes. Quick, easy and delicious! And a reminder that cranberries aren’t just for Thanksgiving :)
I was inspired to make it this week after finding some left-over cranberry sauce while Spring cleaning my freezer. If you have left-over cranberry sauce (perhaps you froze some too?), this dish is a perfect use for some of it. You can also use canned whole berry cranberry sauce or if you have some frozen cranberries, see the Cook’s notes below for how to quickly turn them in to some cranberry sauce to use for this dish.
I served my pork with oven roasted sweet potatoes and wilted spinach. See the “Cook’s Notes” below the recipe for details on the sides.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, DIVIDED
- 1 medium pork tenderloin
- 1/4 cup finely diced onion
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce (or homemade cranberry sauce - see Cook's Notes for how-to)
- 1 or 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (I prefer 2 Tbsp.)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Melt 1/2 Tbsp. butter in heavy large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat (I love to use my cast iron frying pan for this, as it makes the tastiest drippings!).
- Remove silverskin and any visible fat from pork. Pat dry with a paper towel and sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork in hot skillet, cooking on all sides, about 2 minutes. Place skillet with pork in preheated oven. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into centre registers 150° F, about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your pork.
- Remove skillet from oven. Remove pork to a cutting board and tent in foil to keep warm. Melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in skillet on the stove-top over medium-high heat. Add onion and thyme and sauté, stirring until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add broth, cranberry sauce and balsamic vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes. Boil until sauce is syrupy and has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes (or a bit longer, if you’ve doubled the sauce). Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed.
- Remove foil from pork and add any juice on the cutting board to the cranberry sauce. Slice pork and place on a plate. Spoon sauce down the middle of the pork. If you used fresh thyme, grab a sprig and place it on top. If not, a sprinkling of something green (parsley, or even dried rosemary) will brighten up the dish. Serve any extra sauce on the side.
You can use use fresh rosemary instead of thyme, if you prefer or for a change.
A small centre-cut pork loin roast could also be used for this recipe. Definitely double the sauce and of course, the oven cooking time will increase considerably.
If you have fresh or frozen cranberries on hand, you can make your own cranberry sauce quickly. Simply bring 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup white sugar to a boil in a sauce pan. Add 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until cranberries burst and sauce thickens. Remove to a bowl and refrigerate until needed. To use in this recipe, simply measure out the amount you need and freeze the rest!
I served my pork with roasted sweet potatoes and wilted spinach. For the sweet potatoes, simply peel and cube. Toss in a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter onto a baking sheet and cook in 425° F. oven for about 25-30 minutes, without stirring. I like to use a small baking sheet, so there’s room for my skillet in the oven to cook the pork at the same time. You could also use two racks. For the spinach, I microwave in a bowl, with a splash of water and covered with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 1-1:30 minutes or until wilted, depending on amount of spinach. Drain excess water and season with salt, pepper and a bit of butter, if desired.
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