The staple side dish to a summer dinner. With an abundance of seasonal zucchini, this…
Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apples & Pancetta
Happy New Year! What’s your New Year’s Day “good luck” food? Here is a classic pork dish with an exciting twist to bring happiness and lots of luck into 2022!
It seems as if so many different cultures and different regions have New Year’s traditions. Whether it’s eating a plate of Hoppin’ Johns with a penny underneath the dish or for others it’s eating grapes (round fruits). For many, it’s watching something drop as we count down to a new year. As long as I can remember my family shared traditional pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for good luck.
Apparently this is a Pennsylvania/Ohio German tradition that’s affordable and comforting during the cold season. And although I can’t say it has brought me all the luck in the world, I feel good enough to pray in my new year goals over a plate of hot vegetables and hearty meat. At this stage in the game I pray for any kind of luck over whatever dish is in front of me.
Pork and sauerkraut was always an odd traditional combination. When I think of pork chops or tenderloins I usually think of some kind of sweetness to go with it, especially apples or apple sauce. I’m not suggesting nixing the sauerkraut in this recipe, because why take a chance on bad luck in the new year. I’m simply suggesting serving it on the side to this double pork and apple dish.
That’s right, I doubled up the pork for even more good luck. Who can say no to crispy pancetta bits sprinkled on top of a perfectly tender piece of meat? Don’t feel bad, all the meaty goodness sits on a bed of caramelized apples and sweet onions. We knocked out three food groups in one dish and they all blend together so well!
What to pick when it comes to pork and apples?
- I wanted to keep this lean, and pork can be relatively lean if you’re using the loin or tenderloin. There is limited fat on this cut and it still upholds a lot of great flavor that you add. If you don’t overcook it, which is hard to do when cooking it with lots of onions and apples, it remains so juicy and super tender. Other cuts like pork chops would also work, but I would avoid thick and fat-capped cuts as they require a totally different cooking method.
- For the apples, you would think you can just snag whatever apples you see in the store but you shouldn’t. Stay away from tart apples, like Granny Smith or super soft red apples. The best and sweetest for this recipe is an apple that is crisp and really light and sweet. These are usually pink or light red/yellow in color. I would select fuji, pink lady or a honey crisp apple.
If you’re one of those individuals who wanted to eat better in the new year, I can assure you this is a great way to start off that journey. This pork is super lean and full of more protein than fat. Plus, served with apples and onions…you’re good to go! And make sure you find your favorite veggie side to pair with it for a well rounded meal.
This all leads me to my last point. Ringing in the new year is saturated with mindsets that are over committed to unattainable goals. I say that not to discriminate to those eager to take on the newest diet trends but to assure you that Side of Veggies is a great place to start. Here there are no restrictions, no painful meal plans, and no rules! The only thing Side of Veggies is committed to is helping you balance your love for food with leaner options and MORE VEGETABLES!
2022 should not be about giving up what you love, but instead adding more of it into your life! Happy New Year!
- 1½ – 2 pounds pork tenderloin (about 2 small-medium tenderloins)
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning dried
- 1 teaspoon rosemary dried
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2-4 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 4-6 ounces pancetta diced
- 2 medium fuji or pink lady apples chopped
- 1 small-medium sweet onion diced
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup low sugar dried cranberries
- fresh parsley finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- In a large casserole dish or on a large baking sheet, place and season both pork tenderloins with salt. Brush both tenderloins with dijon mustard.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix Italian seasoning, rosemary, oregano, garlic, paprika, pepper and red pepper flakes and sprinkle evenly on both pork tenderloins (all over, top, bottoms, and sides). Allow to rest for about 10 minutes at room temperature.
- In a cast iron skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat until hot, add pancetta. Cook the pancetta for 4-6 minutes until crispy and the fat has rendered out. Remove pancetta but keep the pancetta fat in the cast iron.
- Add another 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, if needed, and sear each side (four sides) of each pork tenderloin for 3-5 minutes on all sides. Remove from the cast iron and set aside.
- Add another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil back to the cast iron and sauté both the onions and apples as the same time for about 6-8 minutes on medium heat. About halfway through the cooking process, add honey and vinegar to deglaze the pan. Once the apples become tender and the onions are slightly translucent, add the dried cranberries and stir into the apples/onions. Remove the cast iron pan from the stove and then spread the onions and apples evenly along the bottom of the pan.
- Add the pork tenderloins back on top of the sautéed apples/onions and place into the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the tenderloin reaches 145°. 155° is acceptable, however, as it rests it may continue to cook. Sprinkle the pancetta on the pork the last 5 minutes of cooking or as you see the pork reach 140° on the meat thermometer.
- Allow the pork to rest for about 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.