Wine-poached plums give pork tenderloin a spicy lift. (Kate Lawson / The Detroit News)
A conversation with my 13-year-old grandson got me thinking about plums. I was astonished to learn that he had never tasted one, at least that’s what he told me. When he asked about what plums tasted like, I didn’t have any hand so I had to describe them. Hmmm, how to do that?
“They have a texture similar to a grape,” I told him, but describing taste is another matter. “Similar to a peach,” was the best I could do. “Some are tart and some taste tropical, and some of them have a hint of vanilla.”
The fact is that there are so many varieties of plums that range from the slightly bitter prune plum to the very sweet and juicy red Santa Rosa plum that it’s hard to describe. I prefer the latter, enjoying them for a snack, but sometimes I get a pint of plums that are too tart to eat out of hand so I turn them into a sauce to dress pork or chicken.
I know I didn’t exactly address my grandson’s question, but his query did get me thinking about making a nice plum sauce for pork tenderloin. And then I bought him a few varieties so he could decide for himself.
Pork Tenderloin with Wine-Poached Plums
Star anise can be found in most spice aisles and Asian markets. Use the whole pods for this recipe. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
6 firm red or black plums, quartered, pitted
2 cups medium dry white wine such as Pinot Gris or Viognier
1 cup dry red wine
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup plus 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar, divided
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
5 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme, divided
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
2 (1 ¼)-pound pork tenderloins
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
Combine first 5 ingredients and ¼ cup sugar in heavy large saucepan; bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat; simmer until plums are tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer plums to platter. Strain wine mixture.
Return strained liquid to same saucepan. Add broth, thyme sprigs and shallot. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes. Strain sauce; stir in 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar and chopped thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover plums and sauce separately; chill. Bring plums to room temperature; rewarm sauce over medium heat.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush pork with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until brown on all sides, turning often, about 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven, and roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and let pork stand 10 minutes. Cut pork crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices. Serve with poached plums and sauce. Serves 6.
Per serving: 421 calories; 15 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 32 percent calories from fat); 20 g carbohydrates; 14 g sugar; 114 mg cholesterol; 130 mg sodium; 42 g protein; 1 g fiber.