By now you’ve probably figured out that 90% of my marinades use orange juice. What can I say? I’m a Cuban from Florida. Orange juice runs through my veins. It also makes the most delicious meat. For today’s recipe, I marinated a pork tenderloin in orange juice and soy sauce using one my favorite time-saving tricks. As soon as you bring your tenderloin home, place it in a seal-able plastic bag with soy sauce and juice and peel of a navel orange. Poof! Perfectly marinated meat as soon as it thaws. Works great with chicken, beef and pork. I’ve also poured a half a beer in when marinating skirt steak – delicious!
I cooked up the tenderloin in the usual way – seared then finished in a very hot oven. Meanwhile, I made a fennel agrodolce sauce to go with it. Agrodolce means “sour and sweet” and is an Italian sauce usually made by cooking onions with vinegar and sugar. I had some farm-fresh fennel that I knew would be great with the pork, so that went in, too. The onions and fennel are sauteed in butter and reduced with balsamic vinegar and sugar.
Agrodolce sauce is a great way to dress up pork tenderloin. If you’ve never tried it, I think you should. It’s sweet and tangy and adds just the right amount of flavor to an otherwise dull tenderloin.
2 lb. pork tenderloin
1 navel orange
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small)
1 large red onion (or 2 small)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. sugar
At least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours (or see freezing method*) before you want to eat, marinate your pork. Place it in a bowl with the juice and peel of the navel orange and the soy sauce.
While your meat is marinating, make the agrodolce sauce. Remove the bottom end and stalks of the fennel bulb, reserving the fronds for garnish and the stalks for homemade stock (they also freeze well). Thinly slice the fennel. Peel the onion and thinly slice it.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onions and fennel and cook for about 15 minutes, or until they soften. Add the balsamic and sugar and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Set aside.
About 30 minutes before you want to eat, set a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and preheat the oven to 400°. When it’s good and hot, heat the canola oil, then pull the tenderloin out of the marinade and sear it for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, or until it develops a golden-brown crust.
Tent the pork with some aluminum foil and place the skillet in the oven. Cooke for 10 – 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160°. The thickest part should be pale pink in the middle. Remove from the pan and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Slice and serve with a big spoonful or two of the agrodolce sauce. Garnish with fennel fronds.
*As soon as you buy your pork tenderloin, place it in a seal-able bag with the orange juice and peel and soy sauce. Zip the bag tightly, removing most of the air and freeze for up to a month. Thaw and proceed to cooking.
Makes about 6 servings. Serve with your favorite starch (rice, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, etc…)