Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

This Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin recipe is from “Second Helpings From Union Square Café” by Michael Romano. It’s a great fall recipe for the adventurous cook.

Michael is the executive chef/owner of Union Square Cafe, voted Number One Most Popular Restaurant for the past five years in a row by the New York City Zagat Survey. This is Romano’s second cookbook, written in conjunction with his partner Danny Meyer and is published by Harper Collins. They recommend serving this with their recipes for Indian-Spiced Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash Polenta or Roasted Root Vegetables.


2 pork tenderloins (about 1-3/4 pounds total) trimmed of fat

1/2 tsp while cardamom pods

1/2 tsp black cumin seeds

1/2 tsp dried pomegranate seeds, available at Middle-Eastern Markets

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

11/2 tsp coriander seeds

2 star anise

4 cloves

1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

1/8 tsp ground ginger

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 large onion, sliced

3 1/2 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced, stems reserved

1/2 tbsp sliced fresh sage, stems reserved

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1/2 cups verjus, sour liquid made from unripe grapes. Substitute lemon or vinegar

2 cups brown veal or chicken stock, or store bought veal stock (or demi-glace)

Kosher salt

1 Red Delicious apple

1/2 cups yogurt, whisked until smooth

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut off about 2 inches of the thin "tail" end of each pork tenderloin, as well as any unevenness at the head of the fillets to make 2 fairly even cylinders.
  3. Cut each tenderloin in half crosswise. Reserve the scraps for the sauce.
  4. Combine the cardamom, black cumin, dried pomegranate seeds, peppercorns, coriander, star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the ground ginger.
  5. Set aside one-third of the ground spice mixture for the sauce, and season the pork tenderloins all over with the remaining two-thirds.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the reserved pork scraps and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add half of the sliced onion, the reserved shiitake and sage stems, and the paprika and cook until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and the verjus.
  8. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve any brown bits, and cook until reduced and very thick.
  9. Add the stock and simmer until the sauce has thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
  10. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in an ovenproof, 11-inch skillet until hot, but not smoking (so as not to burn the spices). Sprinkle the pork with 1 teaspoon of salt, place it in the skillet, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over.
  11. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 8 minutes for a medium-rare, 10 minutes for medium. Meanwhile, peel, core and cut the apple into 1/2 inch dice.
  12. When the pork is cooked, transfer it to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while you finish the sauce.
  13. Discard the fat from the pan. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the reserved spice mixture and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  14. Toss in the remaining sliced onion and the sliced shiitakes, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
  15. Add the diced apple and 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  16. Strain the reserved sauce into the pan through a fine meshed strainer, pressing with a ladle to extract all of the juices. Pour in any pork juices that have accumulated on the plate and bring to a simmer.
  17. Whisk in the yogurt and sliced sage, and taste for seasoning. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  18. Cut the pork on a slight angle into 1/2-inch slices and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the pork and serve.

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