Pork Medallions with Dried Cranberries & Cider Sauce

Pork tenderloins vary in size from as little as 8 ounces each to as large as 16 ounces. Either way, figure 5 to 6 ounces per person. Dried cherries or apricots also make a good substitution for the cranberries. Serves six.

1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Calvados or brandy
1 cup fresh unfiltered apple cider
1 cup chicken or beef stock, preferably homemade or low-salt
2 to 3 pork tenderloins, depending on their size (see headnote), 2 to 2 1/2 lb. total
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Pinch cayenne
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 oz. pancetta or good quality bacon, diced fine
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the cranberries in the Calvados for about 30 min. Trim any fat and silverskin from the pork tenderloins. Cut the tenderloins on the bias (to get a bigger slice) into 3/4-inch medallions. Combine the cider and stock in a small saucepan and boil until reduced by about half. Set aside.

Combine the spices and flour in a shallow bowl. Season the medallions with salt and pepper and then roll them in the flour-spice mixture.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until just crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and add the butter. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the pork to the pan in a single layer (do this in batches if necessary) Sear the medallions until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side, until the meat is just lightly pink on the inside. (NOTE: If you want to prepare the pork dish ahead and just reheat it before serving, see the instructions at the end of the recipe.) You can check the internal temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer; it should read about 140°F. Transfer the pork to a warm plate, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.

If the pan looks dry, add another tablespoon of butter and then add the shallot. Cook over medium heat until softened, about 1 min. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in the Calvados and cranberries; deglaze the pan by scraping up all the brown bits to dissolve them. Add the cider-stock mixture to the pan, bring to a boil, and boil until the sauce is slightly thickened—you should have about 1 cup of sauce. Add the bacon to the sauce, and then taste for salt and pepper. Arrange them on dinner plates and spoon the sauce over and serve immediately.

Note: If you want a thicker sauce, dissolve 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of cold water and whisk it into the sauce before returning the pork to the pan. Let the sauce return to a simmer and then proceed as directed above.

To Do Ahead: Follow the recipe as written, but only sear the pork medallions for about 1 minute per side, transfer to a baking sheet, cover, and, if you're doing this more than about a half-hour ahead, refrigerate. Finish the sauce as directed, reserve it, in the fridge or on the counter, depending again on how far ahead you're working.

Source of recipe: Martha Holmberg