Pork tenderloin or ‘varkenshaas’ is quite common in Belgium. We house many pig farmers near our coastal plains and the rural Ardennes in the South, and pork makes a frequent appearance in Flemish & Walloon cuisine. Pork is often served alongside a fruity ‘compote’ or warm, chunky fruit stew typically made from apples, rhubarb or apricots. It seems Belgian cuisine tends to favor fruity additions to savory dishes, and to date, I still like the sweetness fruits give to hearty stews or braised meats.
The problem with pork is, is that it often turns out a bit dry and flavorless. It doesn’t help that for years America’s preoccupation with food safety had everyone convinced that you have to cook pork until it’s well-done, and that’s a sad myth. It gave pork a bad reputation. While you shouldn’t eat pork raw, it’s perfectly safe to cook it to medium doneness, so it’s still juicy and a bit rosy on the inside.
Roasted into a tangy, caramelized feast and paired with a fruity sauce, pork is delicious! Below is my take on this Belgian classic.
BALSAMIC BLUEBERRY REDUCTION
(adapted from a recipe by ‘Het Waterhuis’)
– 2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
– ¼ tsp chipotle powder
– ½ cup applesauce
– 2 Tbsp whole-gain mustard
– ½ an orange, zested and juiced
– 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 Tbsp agave syrup
– ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth, more if needed
– ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
In a medium sauté pan, add all of the ingredients and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the meat. If the consistency is too thick, add a little more chicken broth.
MUSTARD-CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN
Mustard-Crusted Pork Tenderloin
– 1 ¼ lbs pork tenderloin
– 1 ½ Tbsp whole-grain mustard
– salt and pepper, to taste
Rub salt and pepper on the tenderloin, then add the whole-grain mustard and coat all sides. On a foil-lined baking sheet, place the pork tenderloin under the broiler and rotate every 3-4 minutes, until the internal temperature reads 135F for a tender medium rare. Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving. Slice into medallions and serve with Balsamic Blueberry Reduction.