Pork Medallions with Cherry SauceCourse: Featured, Main Course, Pork
Every single person in my household loves sweet and savory, myself included. Some meats are just made to be combined with sweet ingredients, especially rich meats. Duck for example, works beautifully with orange. Lamb goes amazingly well with mint jelly, and turkey and cranberry sauce is a marriage made in heaven. There’s one meat however, that just works unbelievably well with sweet, sharp, and fruity ingredients, and that meat is pork.
I must admit, I was apprehensive about creating this recipe as I always thought that nothing would top the incredible sweet and savory combo that is pork and apple. After being inspired by an old episode of the classic British TV sitcom ‘Fawlty Towers’ however, I decided to go with pork and cherries, and I’m so glad that I did. In the episode in question, hapless hotel owner Basil Fawlty is hosting a dinner party to try to impress some big wigs from the area. After a mishap involving a drunken French chef, he is forced to change the menu to duck. One of the options was ‘duck with cherries’ and it was this that gave me the inspiration for my pork medallions with cherry sauce.
After doing a little research, it turns out that my idea of combining pork with cherries was not so unique after all. I discovered that back in Italy in Medieval times, pork roasted with cherries was actually a very popular dish, and I can see why. Pork is a naturally rich and fatty meat, and the sweetness of the cherries and honey, and the tartness of the cherries just cuts through the richness of the meat beautifully.
The tartness from the cherries, red wine, and orange zest is complimented perfectly by the sweetness from the honey, and the aromatics from the whole spices. In fact, containing cinnamon, cloves, orange, red wine, sugar, and other herbs and spices, this is a surprisingly festive dish as it has flavors very similar to those of a mulled wine.
When preparing this dish, I strongly recommend that you get your pork coated in honey, the spices, the orange zest, and the red onions as quick as you can, and that you leave them for as long as possible, ideally overnight. The longer you leave the meat to marinate, the better the flavor will be. I also recommend you use fresh thyme rather than dried, and most importantly, that you use a good quality red wine. If you wouldn’t drink and enjoy a certain wine, don’t cook with it.
As for the sauce, because I like spice and to give it a bit of a savory kick, I like to add half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, though you can leave that out if you like. You can use fresh, frozen, or canned cherries for the sauce, though I recommend canned if you want the sauce a little sweeter.
Once the meat is fried off and your sauce has been thickened, go ahead and pour the cherry sauce generously over the pork fillet medallions, serve with fresh basil leaves and enjoy with crispy roasted potatoes, or creamy mashed potatoes. Delish!
Pork fillet 400 g (14.3 oz)
300 ml (10 fl oz) red wine
300 g (11 oz) frozen or fresh cherries
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
Half a red onion, coarsely chopped
Bunch of fresh thyme
Fresh red basil leaves
25 g (0.9 oz) butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Half teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Half tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove stick
Salt to taste
- Cut the pork into thick medallions. Pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Cover the pork with honey and sprinkle with spices and salt.
- Put the medallions in a container, add 1/2 of the wine, orange zest and onion, and marinate overnight or an hour if you don’t have time.
- Remove from the container and pat dry with paper towels.
- Saute medallions in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
- Then add thyme and bay leaf to the pan. Cook until golden brown, for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
- Cherry Sauce
- Meanwhile, in another skillet, combine the rest of the wine with the cherries and sugar. Also add a cinnamon stick, cloves, and if you want a more savory taste, add half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- Sauté the cherries for about 3-4 minutes. Then remove the cinnamon and cloves.
- Add the basil and butter to the cherry sauce and cook for another minute.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of water with starch
- Pour the starch mixture into the cherry sauce and cook the mixture for a couple more minutes until it thickens. Stir the mixture occasionally with a spatula to avoid burning.
- Cool the mixture a little then grind with an immersion blender.
- Assembling the final dish
- Put the meat on a plate, pour cherry sauce on top and garnish with basil leaves.