Fennel Lavender Pork Tenderloin – 2015 Mélange Rouge

The rub on this dish talks with the flavors in the wine, and brings out the nuances the blend has. This would be a good rub on duck breast and chicken as well. Be sure to use culinary lavender (un-sprayed and NOT English lavender), and go easy with it as too much and the wine will taste acrid and bitter. Better to skip it if you feel unsure about how to use it.

INGREDIENTS

1.25-1.5 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver-skin and pounded to uniform 1-inch thickness

Garlic powder, around ¼ teaspoon, or garlic oil to cover the meat lightly

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 heaping teaspoon, or as needed, sugar or light brown sugar

1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed (not powdered!) in a mortar and pestle or with the bottom of a heavy pan

½ teaspoon culinary lavender, lightly smashed with fingers

½ tablespoon, loose, fresh marjoram, chopped

½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped coarsely

Olive oil as needed

METHOD

Sprinkle pork with garlic, then season gently with salt and pepper. Cover pork liberally sugar all over, the scatter with fennel, lavender, and herbs.

Spray or drizzle with oil, then transfer to receptacle with sides and allow rub to flavor meat for anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Keep cold if not using within 30 minutes of applying rub.

Turn oven on to 400°F 30 minutes before beginning to cook. Remove meat from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to allow meat to come to room temperature.

Place meat into an ovenproof vessel in the upper half of the oven and roast until meat reaches 136-137°F (trichinosis dies at 138°, and there will be carry-over cooking that will take the meat past the kill-zone for trichinosis), and has a nice caramelized outside. Baste the meat periodically while it cooks so it picks up more color. Cooking time should be around 25 minutes or so. If the meat does not seem to be browning, put a little butter on it and that should help.

When the meat is cooked (if you don’t have a thermometer, it should feel springy-not soft, nor really rubbery/bouncy), remove it from the oven and tilt the cooking vessel so the juices move away from the meat to preserve the crust. Allow meat to rest for 5-10 minutes loosely tented with foil so it has a chance to “relax”.

Slice across the grain in ¼-inch diagonal slices and serve. Pour any juices over the meat, or put back into cooking vessel with a little butter and swirl to melt and incorporate butter into juices for a “pan sauce”. Pour over meat and serve.

Chef’s Notes: To really get more flavors from the wine, serve this with grilled Little Gem lettuce with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a little rose sugar if you have it, carrots cooked and sauced with reduced cooking liquid and olive oil with mint threads, and roasted Rose Fir, Purple Peruvian, and French fingerling potatoes. Be sure to take a bite of each element followed with a sip of wine for a fun experience. The wine shows a different nuance with each different item on the plate.

Serves: 4

Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen