Figgy Piggy with Sweet Spiced Port Sauce
1 large pork tenderloin (about 1¼ pounds)
Fleur de sel
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (½ ounce) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup Reduced Chicken Stock (page 306)
½ cup ruby port
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Pinch of fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 small or 4 medium fresh figs
A sprig of rosemary, broken into pieces
The accent in this pork tenderloin is on "tender." I sear the meat first to give it color, infuse it with flavor overnight, and, just before serving, sear it agair for a nice Maillard crust (see "They Call Me Captain Crunch," page 66), which transforms any cut of meat into something sublime. I use reduced chicken stock in the sauce instead of a more brawny meat stock, so the flavors of port and orange juice ring through, all buoyed by the soft, sweet mushiness of the figs. (Photograph on page 212.)
Trim the ends of the pork and trim off any silverskin or visible fat.
Season with fleur de sel.
In a skillet large enough to hold the tenderloin, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Place the pork in the skillet and, with a pair of tongs, roll the meat back and forth occasionally forabout 5 minutes, or until all the sides are richly browned. Remove to a tray and season on all sides with pepper. Rub the honey and cinnamon all over the pork.
To roll the pork up in plastic wrap: Slightly dampen the work surface to anchor the plastic, and lay out two overlapping pieces of plastic wrap to form an 18-inch square. Lay the meat across the plastic wrap about 6 inches up from the bottom edge. Pull the edge of the plastic wrap closes to you up over the roll and lay it on the plastic on the far side, pressing it tightly against the meat. Using a ruler or the back of a chef's knife, press against the meat to further compact the meat, then slowly roll the meat up in the plastic wrap, pinching in the sides from time to time to compress the meat more. Twist both ends and tie with kitchen twine.
Trim the ends of the plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Fill a large stockpot with water and clip a thermometer to the side of the pot. (Using a large pot of water makes it easier to maintain the temperature of the water once the pork is added.) Bring the water to
140°F. It is important that the water remain between 135°and 140°F as the pork cooks. Keep a bowl of ice cubes next to the stove, and if the temperature climbs, add a few ice cubes to lower the temperature quickly.
Place the pork, still wrapped in plastic, in the water and poach for 1 hour, carefully maintaining the temperature. If the pork does not remain under the surface of the water, wedge a wooden spoon into the pot to keep it submerged. Remove the pork from the water and insert an instant-read thermometer into the meat at one end of the tenderloin, reaching the center of the meat. The temperature should be close to 140°E. If it is below 140°F, seal the wrapped tenderloin in a zip-seal plastic bag and continue to poach it as necessary. When the meat is done, turn off the heat. The pork can be held in the warm water for up to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Remove the zest from half of the orange with a vegetable peeler. Place the zest in a small saucepan. Add the chicken stock, port, vinegar, cinnamon stick, star anise, and prunes to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and segment the orange (see Note, page 314) and set the segments aside for garnish.
Remove the star anise from the sauce and reserve for the garnish.
Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until reduced to ½ cup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm until ready to serve.
While the sauce reduces, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Combine the salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut the figs in half if they are small or into quarters if they are medium, and sprinkle with the salt and cinnamon. Place in a small baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft.
Remove the pork from the plastic wrap. In a skillet large enough to hold the pork, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat and, with a pair of tongs, roll the meat back and forth occasionally for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until richly browned.
Remove from the heat and let rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Rewarm the sauce if necessary, and whisk in the butter.
Slice the tenderloin about ½ to ¾ inch thick. Place the meat on a serving platter. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and black pepper. Drizzle the sauce around the meat. Arrange the figs, orange segments, the reserved star anise, and the rosemary sprig around the meat. Serve any extra sauce on the side.
SERVES 4 AS A MAIN COURSE