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Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Balsamic Sauce

Appetito contributor Chef Deborah Dal Fovo shares her sweet and savory pork tenderloin recipe that celebrates the sweetness of September

Pork tenderloin with figs and Balsamic sauce.

Pork tenderloin with figs and Balsamic sauce.

As much as I love summer and hate to see it go, I have to admit that September is my favorite month of the year. The last, lingering days of the season bring a special sweetness to our table with intense, sun-soaked flavors of late summer fruits, like vine-ripened tomatoes, plums, and…figs. I especially love figs and relish the fleeting moment in September when they are ready to pick and eat as is or with little embellishment. Figs’ luscious, honey-like sweetness and unique texture makes them a precious culinary delicacy worth savoring in season. In addition to enjoying for dessert, fresh figs’ complex flavor and consistency lend to exciting pairings with savory ingredients for unforgettable dishes. Each year in Italy, generous platters of picture-perfect figs and translucent slices of prosciutto grace tables in the beloved classic prosciutto e fichi—an indulgence worth waiting all summer long for.

My signature dish of Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Balsamic Sauce is inspired by this magical gastronomic pairing, where candy-sweet figs compliment the salty earthiness of pork. The surprising marriage of savory and sweet is a heavenly combination worthy of divinity. In fact, in Italy, the fig tree has long been considered a sacred plant and symbol of abundance with its large, fan-like leaves depicted as the first garments worn by Adam and Eve and succulent, meaty figs the divine food of the gods. The small, pear-shaped fruit has smooth skin that opens to reveal inviting flesh woven with tiny edible seeds that tickle the palate and heighten pleasure. Depending on the variety and location, fresh figs that range in color (inside and out) and subtlety of sweetness and texture are available for a brief period from August through late September.

In my recipe, pork tenderloin is roasted until juicy and pink-centered then bejeweled in a glossy, fig-studded sauce featuring balsamic vinegar from Modena that adds a rich seductive note. Fresh figs are warmed in the sauce just enough to bring out their natural ripeness and coat them with a nectar-like sheen (I use plump Black Mission figs with edible bluish-purple skin and pink pulp that are sugar-sweet yet firm enough to hold their shape). It’s a luxurious dish fit for a king in both presentation and complexity of flavors yet surprisingly simple to prepare. I hope you enjoy making it each September when the sweetness of fresh figs beckons.

Chef Deborah Dal Fovo with September figs
Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Balsamic Sauce

Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Balsamic Sauce

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Deborah Dal Favo
Servings

4-5

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

35

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds 1.5 pork tenderloin, at room temperature

  • 8 8 firm, ripe Black Mission figs

  • 2 tablespoons 2 extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons 3 cold unsalted butter, cut into dice

  • 1 small 1 shallot, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 dry Marsala wine or dry white wine

  • 2 tablespoons 2 Balsamic Vinegar from Modena

  • Kosher or sea salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.
  • Place the pork tenderloin on a cutting board and trim away excess fat then remove any silver skin (greyish sheath of connective tissue covering the meat) by sliding a thin, sharp knife blade under the skin to loosen and pulling or cutting off in strips.
  • Fold the tail of the tenderloin under if it is long and thin, then tie the pork at 1½-inch intervals with kitchen string to maintain its round shape and insure uniform cooking.
  • Wipe the figs clean with a damp paper towel then cut lengthwise into quarters.
  • Heat a large, heavy skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  • Dry the surface of the pork with paper towels then season generously on all sides with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the olive oil into the hot pan and when it shimmers, add the pork and sear on all four sides, turning once per side, until a golden crust has formed, about 8 to 10 minutes total.
  • Remove from heat and transfer the pork to a baking sheet, setting the skillet aside for the sauce. Place the baking sheet in the center of hot oven and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest part of the meat registers 135-140°F/57-60°C, about
  • 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the pork to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
  • Spoon off any excess grease from the skillet and place pan over medium heat.
  • Add 2 tablespoons butter (keep remaining butter cold until needed), shallots, 1 tablespoon water and season lightly with salt.
  • Cook shallots for 2 to 3 minutes until soft and water has evaporated, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any bits of caramelized residue, then boil until alcohol fumes evaporate completely, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and add any meat juices that have accumulated on the carving board.
  • Cook at a gentle simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens to a medium consistency.
  • Turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar then whisk in the remaining tablespoon cold butter to create a smooth, shiny sauce that coats the back of a spoon.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Add the quartered figs to the pan and gently toss in the sauce until glazed and just warmed through.
  • Remove the string from the pork and slice crosswise into 3/4-inch thick medallions.
  • Arrange the pork medallions in a neat row on a serving platter and spoon the fig sauce over top.
  • Buon appetito!

Notes

  • Special equipment: Kitchen string, meat thermometer

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