Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin With Red Wine Balsamic Cherry Sauce

Cherries and goat cheese and pork, Oh My! Flavour, texture and color all pop in this dish. Sweet, dark cherries against the rosy pork, contrasting with the bright white goat’s cheese. It’s lovely to look at, sweet, sour and savory to taste. If fresh cherries aren’t available you can easily use frozen. Just thaw them out and drain them ahead of time.
Serves 6, level of difficulty - moderate

2 Pork tenderloins, center cut, approximately 6 inches (152 mm) each in length with silver skin removed
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup (180ml) goat cheese, crumbled
Zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 Tablespoons (22.5ml) fresh basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil (15ml) + 1 Tablespoon (15 ml)
1 teaspoon (5ml) cracked pepper
Butcher twine
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup (125ml) red wine
1/2 cup (125ml) fresh cherries, pits removed and chopped
1/2 Tablespoon (7.5ml) balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C).

2. Use a sharp knife to "butterfly" the pork tenderloin. This is done by making an incision mid way through the length of the tenderloin (so it opens like a butterfly). Be sure to leave the loin with at least 1/2 inch (12 mm) uncut at the base. Do the same with the other loin.

3. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and using a rolling pin (or a meat tenderizer), gently pound on the meat until the surface is flat.

4. In a medium-sized bowl mix together the goat cheese, lemon zest and basil with 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil and the pepper.

5. Pull the plastic wrap off the meat and spoon the goat cheese mixture evenly over the center leaving a 3/4 inch border. Roll up to make a nice compact even loin. Do the same with the other tenderloin.

6. Use butcher string to make even ties on every inch of the loin, to keep the roll intact.

7. Rub 1 Tablespoon (15ml) of the olive oil all over the pork loins. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Set a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat, add the remaining olive oil and allow to it to heat up for about 30 seconds. The pan should be hot but not smoking.

9. Put the pork loins in the skillet and cook until a deep golden brown caramelized crust forms. Place the skillet in the preheated oven and allow them to cook for another 12 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 145F.

10. Pull the pork out of the oven, place the loins on a plate and cover loosely with foil.

11. Put the empty skillet back on the heat and turn up the stove top to medium-high. Add the red wine and with a wooden spoon, scrape up all the porky caramel bits from the bottom of the pan.

12. Add half the cherries and the balsamic vinegar and allow the mixture to continue to cook for 5 minutes.

13. Add the rest of the cherries and cook for another minute. Once the sauce is slightly reduced and the cherries are all warmed up, season with salt and pepper.

14. To serve slice the tenderloin using a sharp knife. Divide the pork on to six plates and drizzle with the cherry sauce. Serve immediately.

Wine Match – Primitivo

This is one of those pairings that really can’t get any better. First off, use the same wine you’re serving in the recipe itself – it’s a great way to seal the deal on a perfect pairing because the flavors of the wine are right on the plate. Primitivo is not so full-bodied that it overpowers the delicate meat, but it’s got enough body and flavor to balance the rich goat’s cheese filling. The cherry flavor of the wine mirrors the cherry sauce, and the wine cleanses your palate after each bite with its refreshing acidity. If you can’t find Primitivo, try Merlot or Sangiovese instead.

This recipe and wine pairing is from the book: This Food That Wine, a cookbook and wine guide available in stores across Canada.

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