Friday, June 23, 2017

Pork Tenderloin with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce

A few years ago my daughter introduced me to pulled pork, which quickly became a staple in our household. And we’ve always eaten pork chops, with or without bones. But somehow I missed the tenderloin phenomenon (despite a wealth of delicious recipes presented here on MLK)—which is kind of like the pork chop with all the outsides removed. It’s small, so it cooks quickly, and it’s a good size for two people.

I went hunting for recipes (I do that a lot), and as usual didn’t find one that was quite right. So I improvised—again. (My husband hates that. If he likes a dish, he wants a recipe, and he’s not happy when I tell him I made it up.) I did need a bit of guidance on timing, because overcooked pork tastes and chews kind of like an eraser. Don’t worry—you can cook pork to just past pink without worrying about trichinosis or whatever. If you’re worried, used a meat thermometer (but ignore the old cookbooks that tell you to cook it to 165 degrees, because by then it’s too late. The USDA recommends 145 degrees these days.)

Pork Tenderloin with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce
Ingredients: The Pork

one 1-1/2 pound pork tenderloin

1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup whole-grain mustard (brands differ—some are coarser than others, so use your favorite)
2 Tblsp olive oil

Dry the pork tenderloin and season with salt and pepper. Whisk together the mustard and olive oil. Using your hands (latex gloves in the kitchen are wonderful!) rub the mixture all over the pork. Let it sit until the pork reaches room temperature, about half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the pork on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Place it in the oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes (if you have a thermometer, test the internal temperature). Remove it from the oven, set it aside, and cover it loosely with aluminum foil.

Ingredients: The Sauce

4 Tblsp unsalted butter
3 Tblsp minced shallot
1/2 cup chicken broth
2-3 Tblsp Dijon mustard
1 cup heavy cream
2-3 Tblsp chopped fresh tarragon
   (or use dried if you can’t find fresh,
   but reduce the amount)

In a saute pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook slowly until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Whisk in the mustard and the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tarragon and taste for seasoning, adding salt and/or pepper as needed. 

To serve, slice the pork tenderloin into pieces (you can choose how thick you want it), place on a warm plate, and spoon the sauce over it. (Don’t feel guilty about all that heavy cream—the pork itself has very little fat.)

I'm between books right now. I'm working on four series (and one from each should appear in 2018), including one that's entirely new. I'm plotting/researching/writing all of them at once (it's sooo easy to get sidetracked on Google!), but you've all seen the only cover I have for any of them at the moment (A Late Frost, Orchard Mystery #11, coming November 2017).

So I'll give you a treat that I discovered while hunting for something else entirely. This is an image from a trade journal from 1889: it's my great-great-grandfather Silas A. Barton. (I have only one photograph of him, but I recognized him immediately when I opened the page.)

But there's more! My research on municipal electrification (for a coming book) revealed the interesting fact that the company for which Silas was treasurer and manager founded the gas and electric company in my current home town--and I've been writing checks to great-great-grandpa's company ever since I moved here. Small world, isn't it?

Have you readers found happy surprises when you weren't even looking? Writers, has a chance discovery changed the course of one of your books?


  1. I love inventing recipes but I usually can't recreate them like you did. I have tarragon in the garden so I'll try this. You are one of my favorite authors. I appreciate your hard work.

    1. Thank you so much! Especially because I love writing, and I hope that shows.

      As for recipes, I rarely start from scratch. I find one in a cookbook (old or new) or on line or in the Boston paper that sort of matches what I had in mind and improvise from there.

  2. Thought that was so neat about your g-g-g granddad. Love when things like that happen. Here's one for a mystery book. For mystery lovers to 'solve'. After my Dad died and we were sorting through things Mom had told us to be fair about the pictures. We had all (4 of us) mentioned we'd like to take a picture or two of Dad. As we went through the boxes we decided we would get them organized. The hundreds of slides were. But not the older style and Polaroids. As we were sorting and organizing a puzzle emerged. There were only two pictures of Dad. One on a slide with Mom by a Studebaker. One with my eldest (3 at the time) sitting on his lap. And neither showed his full face. There were exclamations of "I remember that, he was right there. Why isn't he in the picture?" "He was right there, how did he not end up in the picture." etc. Now I have been a mystery buff and horror buff since I can remember. I said "Maybe he's a vampire" (3 pairs of rolled eyes and a snicker and a droll, "Yeah, right. In broad daylight?") But then, I don't remember him making any moves to avoid being in any pictures, casual or otherwise. What about you guys. We were pretty much agreed that no. He never appeared to try avoid being in a picture, so why wasn't he there? He rarely took a picture. Mom or one of us or another relative took the pictures. We had the negatives to almost all the pictures and we checked. No pictures were missing. We talked to our extended family. No one had any pictures with Dad in them. None remembered he making any move that would take him out of view of the lens. And most all remembered he rarely touched a camera. Other than he was the one who would buy the cameras and he always bought the top of the line at that time. We traveled extensively every year and we had pictures of everywhere and everything we did. So. Where is he? As for the cooking? I have "adjusted" so many recipes and I have kicked myself so often because I would not remember afterwards what I did. And there were a couple in particular that were really good sauces that would work on just about anything. And I so love a good savory sauce. Della. Will have to try this recipe. It looks super! Thanks.

    1. Wow, what a great story! You'd done all the right things in searching (even checking the negative sequence!) with no explanation, and you've all put your heads together. How very strange. My father was the camera person in our family, but he did manage to teach my mother to point and shoot so at least there are some pictures of him, early on. Maybe your father was an alien? The closest I can come is my uncle by marriage (who was real, as far as I could tell), who seemed to be an ordinary local car dealer most of his adult life, until he ended up in a hospital in the same room as a former war buddy, who informed the family visitors that they'd known each other in the OSS, the precursor to the CIA. Uncle Bud had never revealed that to his family. I wonder if he tried to disappear from pictures too? Maybe if you do some online searching, you'll find that your Dad had a secret life.

  3. Good stories and lovely recipe.