A moist and juicy pork tenderloin becomes sublime when stuffed with fresh spruce tips, raisins, and zesty orange, then glazed with the flavourful roasting liquid. (Skip to recipe.)
I waited and waited for the spruce trees to start forming their soft new growing tips, walking out almost daily to check for those thickening buds. Then, somehow I blinked and missed a day or two, and *k*a*p*o*w!#! --- spruce tip explosion! The tips of all the branches were loaded with fat feathery brushes bursting out of their papery husks.
Isn't that how life is? We wait and wait for something to happen, and then before we know it, it's almost over. I'm feeling quite nostalgic and dealing with the bittersweetness of children growing up, so you'll have to bear with me if I sound a little sappy and sad. Today is my baby's (big, muscular, sometimes smelly, teenage boy baby, but still . . . forever my baby) last day of classes for high school. Just exams left. This morning I packed my last school lunch. (Yes, I still packed his lunches. It was my labour of love. I am a big suckie.)
I'm sure every parent has lamented at some time in their life Where did the time go? Yesterday I was watching them take their teetering first steps on the kitchen floor, and today I'm watching them take their confident first steps into the wide world of adulthood.
The short season of fresh spruce tips to add flavour to spring dishes is almost over. You can still use the them, even when they are opened but still tender and lighter green than the rest of the branches, like the photos in this post about baked rhubarb with spruce tips - yes, spruce tips are divine when roasted with rhubarb. They are also amazing when quickly sauteed with juicy mushrooms or asparagus, and absolutely divine with new potatoes and cream. You can even use spruce tips to make flavoured salt or vinegars. Think of them as a unique, exotic herb (which is only as far away as your back yard - or maybe that little patch of forest outside of town).
In addition to being full of vitamin C, spruce tips add a unique herbal, citrus-y, rosemary-ish, flavour to foods. If they are new to you, try them and have some fun with them.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: I've also used this same stuffing mixture, doubled, to stuff a pork loin roast - wonderful. Cut and tie the roast the same way, bake a little longer.
Make sure not to overcook this lean cut of pork. Cooking temperature for pork has been lowered and it is now considered safe to cook it so it is still slightly pink inside, like beef. When in Europe last year we ate a type of pork tartare which is common in Germany, and absolutely delicious.
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Spruce Tips, Raisins, and Orange Glaze
- 1 pork tenderloin, 1 to 1¼ lbs (450-550gms)
- ¼ cup spruce tips
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- zest of half an orange (preferably organic)
- juice of 1 orange, divided
- fine sea salt
- ¼ cup white wine
- 5 twelve-inch (30cm) pieces of cotton kitchen twine
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove and discard the silverskin from the pork tenderloin. It's the silvery sheath of tendon attached to the top third of one end of the tenderloin. Slide a thin sharp knife underneath it and slice it off, taking as little meat off as possible.
Make a cut lengthwise down the center of the tenderloin, being careful not to cut all the way through (leave about ¼ inch uncut).
Then cut horizontally down the center of each cut side, again being careful not to cut all the way through.
Open up the cut tenderloin and lay it flat. You should have four ridges running lengthwise down the length of it. Using a meat hammer or other heavy object, pound the ridges to even out the thickness and produce one large flattish cutlet.
Chop the spruce tips, place them in a bowl. Chop the raisins, and add them to the spruce tips. Add the grated orange zest, honey, one tablespoon of the olive oil, one tablespoon of the orange juice, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Spread this stuffing mixture over the flattened tenderloin to within ½ inch (1cm) of the edges.
Roll up the tenderloin starting at the long edge. Tie evenly with the kitchen twine, then trim the ends of the twine.
Place the rolled and tied bundle in a roasting tin or baking pan just slightly shorter than the meat, about 10 inches (26cm) long.
Squeeze the rest of the orange juice over the tenderloin, then pour over the wine. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Place the roasting pan, uncovered, into the preheated oven.
Roast for about 35 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the middle reads 150°F. It will continue to cook as it rests. Don't let it overcook, or it will dry out.
Remove the pan from the oven and set the tenderloin on a plate. Tent it with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until they are syrupy and reduced to about 2 or 3 tablespoons, watching carefully that they don't go too far and burn.
Slice the meat, arrange the slices on a platter and pour over the reduced pan juices. Decorate with orange wedges, spruce tips, and raisins, if desired.
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You might also like:
Honey Mustard and Three Seed Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
Herb Stuffed Barbecued Pork Chops
Pork Chops with Saskatoon Chutney
Buttery Sauteed Mushrooms with Spruce Tips and Chives
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My little cooking buddy Meredith helped me pick the spruce tips:
I have a spruce I will go out & see how it is doing in the morning. I would never thought of using such an item?
It's fun to have your own source of 'herb' growing in your yard, isn't it? Since I've been playing around with spruce tips' great flavour, I can't wait to try them in new dishes each spring - their season is so short, but you can still use them even when they're quite long and feathery - as long as they're still lighter green than the rest of the tree and tender. The flavour intense, but wonderful in small amounts. Hope you can still find a few tips to try out!