I came up with this recipe on my way home from my writing group while I was still doing my cleanse—nothing like 6 glasses of lemonade in your system to really appreciate other flavors. No doubt this lunch will undo any cleanliness I achieved, but it was worth it. Oh my goodness was it worth it. The fennel and pork work well together like some sort of deconstructed sausage. And then the mustard and gorgonzola complement it perfectly. I made the whole dish for around $20, so it’s perfect for a fancy at home dinner if your kids are willing, or even a double date (and it has no garlic, another plus for the date idea).

Pork Tenderloin Medallions With Cider Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

for the pork:

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pork

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder

1 pound pork tenderloin

1 tablespoon olive oil

for the cream sauce:

1/2 cup cider (I just used Martinelli’s)

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1-2 ounces gorgonzola cheese

braised fennel (recipe follows)

fennel fronds for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees celsius). Mix salt and pepper and spices together in a small bowl. Sprinkle tenderloin with kosher salt. Rub the entire outside with the spice mixture. In a large oven-proof skillet set over high heat, pour in the olive oil and sear the tenderloin on all sides. Transfer to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees or no longer pink. Transfer to a cutting board to rest while you prepare the sauce.

2. Scrape out any fully burnt bits from pan and discard. Deglaze the pan with the cider, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in cream and mustard and bring to a rapid boil and continue to boil for a minute or two until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and crumble in gorgonzola. Whisk until smooth.

3. Slice pork into 1/2 inch pieces. Arrange braised fennel on plates, place sliced pork on top, and drizzle with gorgonzola sauce. Garnish with fennel fronds.

Braised Fennel

1 or 2 large fennel bulbs

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup good chicken stock

1/4 cup cider

2 teaspoons ground mustard

1. Remove hard core of fennel and chop bulbs into 1 inch pieces. Saute in butter and sprinkle with salt. Saute for about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and cider. Bring to a slow simmer, cover and braise for 20-25 minutes, or until tender. Uncover, stir in dried mustard, and simmer until the liquid reduces and thickens.

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