Apricot Pork Tenderloin is a great last-minute dinner. The pork tenderloin cooks quickly, and the apricot preserves add the perfect touch of sweetness.
Roasting is a no-fuss cooking technique that is perfect for quickly cooking cuts of meat like pork tenderloin. Just by cranking up the oven to high heat, you get a lot of flavor with little effort. The beauty of roasting, as opposed to braising with a liquid, is that the dry heat causes the surface of the meat to caramelize, turning it a golden brown. As the meat browns, the process of roasting actually helps to lock in the juices, keeping the interior of the meat moist. I like to sear my meat on the stove top before putting it in the hot oven to add an extra caramelization and flavor to the crust.
The apricot preserves create a sweet and glistening glaze on the roast pork and a flavorful sauce. Blackberry preserves, orange marmalade and lemon-ginger marmalade would make delicious substitutes.
The sauce is a simple pan gravy. The browned bits left behind in the pan after roasting are full of flavor. By adding liquid, you "deglaze" the pan and melt the brown bits into the water, creating a delectable sauce. Pan gravy is good on its own, but in this recipe, I like to add a little preserves and fresh thyme for an added dimension.
Jennifer Chandler is the author of "Simply Salads" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99) and "Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99). She lives in East Memphis with her husband and two daughters. For more recipes and dinner time solutions, visit cookwithjennifer.com.
Apricot Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin (about 11/4 lbs.), trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
11/2 cups water
1 cup apricot preserves, divided
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Preheat the oven to 395 degrees.
Rinse the pork tenderloin and pat it dry with paper towels. Generously season with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron or oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the skillet. Sear the tenderloin until well-browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Brush 3/4 -cup of apricot preserves over the top and place the tenderloin in the oven to finish cooking, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the tenderloin to a cutting board with a well. Cover loosely with foil and let the pork rest about 5 minutes.
Pour the pan drippings out of the pan. Add the water to the pan. Over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 -cup apricot preserves and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer just until the apricot preserves have melted into the sauce, about 2 minutes.
Thinly slice the tenderloin and serve with the sauce spooned over the top.
Cooking tip: To ensure your pork (or any other meat) is fully cooked, use a meat thermometer. Pork is safe to eat when it is cooked to an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees.