Balsamic Cherry Pork Tenderloin with Crispy Asparagus
Balsamic vinegar adds a heady hit of sweet-and-sour flavor to the cherries and keeps this sauce on the savory side. Pork tenderloin has a thin end that cooks faster than the rest of the roast; to keep it from overcooking, simply tuck it under so that the tenderloin is the same thickness throughout.
1¼ cups frozen sour cherries, thawed but not drained; add juices to bowl along with cherries (TIP:Or substitute with fresh pitted cherries.)
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp ground black
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 slice whole-grain crusty bread (about 1½ oz), torn into pieces
1/4 cup blanched unsalted slivered almonds
1 tbsp packed chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus additional sprigs for garnish, optional
2 large eggs
1 lb thick asparagus spears, trimmed
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line half of a large rimmed baking sheet with enough foil to leave a 2-inch overhang on sides. Bring edges of foil up, then fold over to create a 1-inch-tall border around half of sheet. (NOTE: You can also use a smaller baking sheet and create foil border around the entire tray.)
In a medium bowl, toss cherries with vinegar. Spoon into center of foil. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp salt and allspice; rub over pork. Arrange pork over top of cherry mixture, tucking in thin end of tenderloin. Bake until just a hint of pink remains in pork and temperature reaches 145°F when tested in thickest part, 25 to 30 minutes. (TIP: If cherry juices begin to burn, fold sides of foil over to partially enclose pork.)
Meanwhile, in a small food processor, pulse bread, almonds, thyme and remaining 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper into coarse crumbs. Line a second large baking sheet with foil. In a large shallow bowl, beat eggs. Sprinkle 2 tbsp crumb mixture on a plate. Working 1 at a time, dip asparagus into egg, then dredge in crumb mixture, turning to coat lightly. When crumbs become too wet, wipe off plate and add 2 more tbsp of crumbs. (NOTE: Wet crumbs will not stick to asparagus.) Arrange in a single layer on prepared sheet. In last 5 minutes of pork baking time, add asparagus to oven.
Remove pork from oven and let pork rest on sheet for 5 minutes; keep asparagus in oven for 5 minutes more (for a total of10 minutes
Cooking pork tenderloin in a moist heat makes it fork-tender. Additionally, the bulgur, which replaces the more traditional rice in this revamped risotto, lends a slightly nutty flavor that complements earthy mushrooms.