Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

For a good chunk of my childhood, my mom was a you’re-not-going-anywhere-until-your-plate-is-clean kind of mom. As a picky eater, this meant that I spent a grand majority of my evenings sitting solo in a rapidly darkening kitchen, wishing that Santa would get bored during his off-season and bring us a broccoli-loving dog.

My older brothers would quickly pinch their noses and wash down the “objectionables” with a few glugs of milk, but even my six year old self knew it was a long time before I caught on to what the three of them already knew: the trick was to eat what you didn’t like first, before your milk got too warm, and to save the good stuff for last.

If I had been served this pork tenderloin back then, I would’ve asked my dad [our resident “milk man”] for an EXTRA tall glass of milk, please. I would have gotten up to get myself a side of ice, and then there would have been a succession of [mostly] silent grievances – starting with this doesn’t look white enough to be chicken and did she say coriander.

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Upon closer inspection, there definitely would have been a dismayed oh my god it’s been smeared in mustard. Just in case you need your memory jogged: the hold-your-nose trick doesn’t WORK with mustard. For this very reason, for a decade straight, mustard topped my list of Top 10 Most Objectionable Foods.

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My twenty two year old self has to laugh, because these days I’m more excited about fancy jars of mustard than I am about racks of designer jeans on clearance.

Anyway, it would have only been under extreme duress [and after having seen my siblings scoot off to play] that I would have choked down each medallion. I would have done everything in my power to avoid the taste: the first pan-seared and then oven-roasted tenderloin, the crackly coriander and peppercorn crust, and the tangy finish of Dijon.

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These days, it takes all my willpower not to make a mid-meal trip back to the counter to scrape all the browned pieces out of the cast-iron pan. They, in particular, have all the citrusy notes from the coriander and the unmistakable kick from the peppercorns.

This coriander-crusted pork tenderloin isn’t so much a recipe as it is a strategy. It’s a dinner for a night when you have defrosted tenderloin in the fridge and would really like to make bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with balsamic strawberries, but it feels like way too much work.

This dish really only involves coating a trimmed [1 lb.] tenderloin with a thick [and I mean thick] layer of high-quality Dijon mustard and whacking a good amount of whole coriander seeds [about a tablespoon] and whole peppercorns [about two teaspoons] with a hammer to create an all-over topping. Then you just pre-heat the oven [to 425 degrees F] while you briefly brown the pork in an oiled cast-iron skillet over very high heat. After it’s been seared on both sides, transfer the pan to the oven and let the tenderloin cook until it’s just slightly blush in the center [or until a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees F].

Inspired by Cooking On The Ranch

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